Through the generous support of the Industry Leaders Fund I was able to attend the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Program at the Saïd Business School throughout Oct-2019.
I had considered attending courses at Harvard, Stamford and Cambridge but after speaking each program faculty as well as discussing what I wanted to achieve with the ILF team (which the ILF application process really assisted with), I arrived at the Oxford course as my first choice.
The three-week onsite residency program comprised a cohort limited to 39 participants spanning more than 20 nationalities with diverse background spanning military generals from Australia and Nigeria, venture capitalists, generational family business owners (from Turkey, UAE and Australia), heads of strategic change and digital innovation from global banking and automotive giants, top level bureaucrats, and Executive Directors from global NGOs and Government Departments.
Simply put it was a truly life changing experience and something that has resulted in real, tangible value being realised within our organisation.
The program drew from some of Saïd’s top Academics and hand-selected industry leaders (from Oxford Business Alumni) whilst threading relevant global leading case studies with current-leadership theory to deep-dive program concepts. The result enabled more complex exploration of topics and sparked discussions and debate from the participant whom themselves drew on their own [extensive] professional and lived experience with their own organisations. This formula served to provoke greater thought about the topics, greatly extending learnings in the process.
Key concepts that transformed my understanding of business and my role as a leader in my organisation extended to include:
• the concept of equifinality and importance of selecting the best available strategy an organisation can implement,
• the power and peril of anchor points and a ‘fort mentality’ in framing organisational strategy,
• effective leaders mastering complexity and orchestrating purposeful impact
• innovation to achieve salvation
• thinking big, learning fast and starting small as an equation for scaling success
• our organisation’s vision being a perpetual shining light, and its strategic direction as its north star
• the art of reframing problems to obtain greater clarity in solving wicked problems
• tough decisions are often the right decisions and need to be addressed with dignity and compassion
• the best leaders do not try to be perfect – they concentrate on honing their strengths and build teams around them to make up for their limitations
• the power of the narrative, and effective storytelling for maximum impact
Supplementing program subject matter was the reward of venturing out into Oxford proper, attending formal dinners at some of Oxfords oldest Colleges, experiencing (and participating in the Oxford Debate), and learning leadership Lessons from Shakespeare’s Henry V.
The immersive 21-day course helped me extend my understanding of myself, honed my skills as a leader (learning ways to improve my style and approach from my amazing course colleagues), and experienced some of best that Oxford had to offer.
The program gave me a renewed sense of clarity regarding my role within our organisation, and helped to reframe our mid-term organisational strategy. Indeed since returning to Adelaide post-program, we have embarked upon three new change management projects that will realise significant value to our organisation and re-scoped our goals which we forecast will result in significant job and value creation within our Group.
I would like to sincerely thank the ILF Board and Executive for their generous advice and support which gave me the courage to undertake the course, and would highly recommend anyone considering the merits of participating in the ILF program to have the confidence to take the plunge and do it!