Great decisions and wicked regrets

2 minute read
College dinner at Pembroke College

Sitting in my ergonomically incorrect office chair, reading my Strategic Mindset coursework, a crushing sense of regret pressed in on me.

I did not regret returning to school after a decade and a half away. Nor for choosing to do so with one of the most reputable, globally diverse programmes. Both of those decisions had already proven two of my better life choices. The regret stemmed from the focal point of strategy and its intersection with economics – the first subject in high school to which I gravitated.

I love market analysis, theorising on competitive landscapes, and the predictive challenges of value creation. Whenever my husband and I find ourselves on an extended road trip, we make a game of observing the local businesses and debating the factors that have contributed to successes and failures.

Despite this interest in business strategy and having studied economics at two universities, my career, to date, had one defining characteristic: I had never worked in strategy.
From operations to leadership and development to communications and beyond; from stealth-mode startups to global conglomerates; from cybersecurity to life sciences to many other industries; even a few early years in entertainment and television, I had always pursued the next opportunity that offered a challenge – a chance to expand my expertise and to utilise my strengths. Now, for the first time, I found myself wondering if this approach lacked…strategy.

One of the many benefits of the Oxford Executive Diploma in Organisational Leadership at Oxford Saïd is the space and structure to consider questions, like mine, regarding individual purpose and direction. It is a place of profound learning and dynamic relationships. It is also a place where we can apply the same commitment and problem-solving that we have dedicated to the success of an organisation to our own individual evolution.

I started my Strategic Mindset session knowing I had the freedom to explore these questions, even if I remained apprehensive of what I might discover. During the professor’s discussion of scenario planning, it hit me that I had my answer in the course title itself. By applying a strategic mindset to communications, change management, executive coaching, organisational leadership, and every role I had ever undertaken, I had integrated my first area of fascination and study into everything I had done.

After all, it is this strategic mindset that drew me to the diploma programme in the first place — that desire to stretch and redefine the parameters of context, embrace more perspectives, and challenge myself to consider my own biases and decisions.