A New Adventure

Bags packed for LondonTomorrow morning I hop on a flight to the UK and officially begin the next step in my journey. I’ve spent months getting ready. From pre-class assignments & readings, to packing up my entire life into just 3 bags. As I get finish my preparations I am struck with the question I’ve been asked a lot as I have gone through this process. “What do you want to do with your degree.”

As I look at all the options I have following my MBA I am at first struck with choice paralysis. I could continue in consulting but at a higher level, learning a lot about new industries as I go along. I could dive into finance and help a VC fund invest in start-ups that could change the world. I can focus on marketing and help companies use the power of their brand to improve the lives of their customers. I could shift more into tech and work as a product manager developing a tool to make someone’s live just a little bit easier.

As I look at my options and even how I describe them to others, there is a common thread. I want my work to have a positive impact on others. And in talking with almost a third of my class, this seems to be a reason why most of us picked Oxford. The school’s focus on Social Entrepreneurship is a key driver of our choice for Oxford; this holds true even for those of us who don’t want to be entrepreneurs ourselves.

While I love marketing and will likely end up down that path, if a role opened up in consulting for non-profits, or running finance for a charitable trust, or a product manager role for an AirBnB for homeless youth who have been failed by the foster-care system, I would probably take it in a heart-beat. Why? Because I care more about having a positive impact on the world than on fulfilling a specific job function.

To some, this may appear that I lack focus and to an extent they are right. I am open to any function that I am qualified for. However, what they miss is that my industry is very focused. It isn’t Healthcare or Energy; Manufacturing or High Tech. My industry is Social Impact. I hope that over the course of my Oxford MBA I can find the perfect function within that industry to enable me to have a positive impact on the world around me.

To that aim, my goals for the year, my MBA resolutions, my OKR’s (to borrow a term from my time at Google) are as follows:

  1. Societal
    1. Volunteer with a local Oxford charity at least one weekend per month
    2. Attend religious services at at least two different congregations each month
    3. Cook for my classmates at least once per month
  2. Physical
    1. Join an Oxford University Team (Crew for Lincoln or Fencing for the University)
    2. Workout at least 3 times per week with my classmates (Running for beginners anyone?)
    3. Yoga at least once per week to stretch my body and calm my mind
  3. Academic
    1. Achieve top 10% of my class in Marketing classes
    2. Achieve top 25% of my class in Finance classes
    3. Take at least 1 elective unrelated to my core focus in Marketing
  4. Professional
    1. Attend at least 5 networking conferences per term
    2. Have information interviews with 25 firms on my target job-list
    3. Speak on a public panel at least once per term
  5. Travel
    1. Travel to a new country at least once per month
    2. Explore other parts of England, Scotland, and Wales at least twice per term
    3. Discover a hidden gem of Oxford once per term
  6. Relationships
    1. Date several british men.
    2. Share a meal and a detailed conversation with every person in my section by end of Michaelmas term
    3. Meet with leaders of Oxford University’s broader network of LGBT and other University organizations by end of Hillary term

These may seem ambitious, but that is the point, to stretch myself. If I achieve 70% of these I will have done amazing. Join me next week as I talk about the pain points of being an international student, the Visa process, and actually flying over (assuming my flight tomorrow goes well).Not All Who Wander Are Lost