The past year has been an outstanding one for the School, even as macro forces in the world have proven more complex. And, while this review highlights some of our recent achievements, we must place our work in the broader context of the issues of the day and what lies ahead:
1 Our faculty is using evidence to advance important agendas.
As political leaders wantonly ignore facts, we must produce objective, independent, rigorous work and share our findings with leaders to advance thoughtful action. In the past year, our colleagues have done seminal work on financial regulation, tax policy, application of behavioural theory to administrative systems, the efficacy (or lack) of infrastructure projects, impact and ESG investing, new views of strategy, the effectiveness of digital and sensory marketing, and more.
2 Our embeddedness with Oxford enhances our facility for problem solving and critical thinking.
Thinking in silos is dangerous, especially when we are increasingly interdependent – both globally and across time. Our work at the School humbly acknowledges that we can do better work by engaging with colleagues across a range of disciplines. For example, our colleagues in the humanities help us hone our critical thinking skills, while our colleagues in the sciences help us enhance our entrepreneurial ventures and vice versa, as demonstrated by the successful launch of a new undergraduate entrepreneurship offering with engineering.
Our students recognise the benefits of engaging with a wide range of ideas and disciplines too: applications to our Oxford 1+1 MBA programme – where individuals combine a master’s degree from one of several Oxford University departments with our one-year MBA – have risen by more have risen by more
3 We can be both embedded in Oxford and deeply connected with global business practice.
Some try to portray our world as “either/or“, but we see it more as “both/and“. We can be both “academic“ and “practical“. Indeed, the pieces by Mike Devereux and Andrew Stephen highlight how we are co-producing insights with leaders in tax and digital marketing.
4 Our orientation towards “world-scale challenges” and leading with purpose is ever more important in the world in which we live.
A recent Edelman Trust Barometer survey found that 75% of the population demand that business not only earn profits, but contribute to society more broadly. If political systems are dysfunctional, it is ever more important that business leaders act with purpose.
From our work at the Skoll Centre, to our research on callings and purpose, to our Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford (GOTO) programme (focused on The Future of Work in 2016/17), to our work on happiness, we endeavour to deliver on our promise to lead with purpose. Our students and alumni are role models in this regard, as exemplified by Avery Bang and those highlighted in our #BeBoldforChange initiative.
So too are our staff, for example those working with the UN in Iraq or joining the Royal Family staff. Our new Global Leadership Council is also a role model for our community.
And through our Executive Education offerings, we are helping some of the most important organisations in the UK and across the world to become more effective.
5 Our message and good work are drawing wonderful people to join our global community.
Political appeals to nationalism are trying to pull us apart, but we must remain a role model for bringing the world together. We do this every day by recruiting truly global classes – more than half of our MBA students hail from the developing world – or by joining the Global Network for Advanced Management, a consortium of 29 leading business schools. Leading the way for MBA programmes, for a second year we have recruited 10% of our class from Africa.
Amazing people are choosing to study and work at Oxford Saïd. Applications to the MBA programme have risen over 67% in the last three years and the School has benefited recently from visits by numerous leaders including: tri-sector leader Michael R Bloomberg, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, Chairman Ajay Piramal and CEO Sergio Ermotti.
6 We must hold ourselves to account.
In the current climate, loud bluster can be used to mask the absence of results. Not so here. At Oxford, our research and teaching must measurably improve the careers and lives of our students and participants, change the way leaders think and, in so doing, make business more effective and principled. We have some markers of success, as our work is positively affecting business and government approaches to financial services, regulation and organisational effectiveness. From conversations with students and alumni, I have personally witnessed the transformational impact we have had on individuals.
Despite the limitations of published rankings, we are also increasingly and consistently successful in traditional measures, ranking in or near the top ten globally for our Open Programmes (Financial Times, 4th), Executive Education (FT, 9th), Executive MBA (FT, 9th), MBA programmes in Finance (FT, 8th), Master’s in Financial Economics (FT, 11th), MBA programmes in Entrepreneurship (FT, 9th), and International Business Schools (Bloomberg Business Week, 3rd) in 2017.
Our Economics and Management undergraduates are not only in the most selective programme in Oxbridge, but also earn the highest salaries of any programme in the UK. Oxford has been ranked the number one University in the world, and we are demonstrating that our School is worthy of carrying the Oxford banner.
7 With eight centuries of history, Oxford appreciates the past, but we look forward.
The year ahead will be exciting, as we welcome new students and faculty, including holders of two new joint posts with other departments and a new Skoll Centre Director, open The Oxford Foundry, launch two major new digital initiatives, dive into the Future of Healthcare in our GOTO programme, and press forward with many new research initiatives.
In this past year, we paused to celebrate the lives of two of our extraordinary colleagues who passed away far too young, Dame Helen Alexander and Professor David Upton.