One year on | Female scholars reflect on their EMBA experiences

Pamela Walker and Elena MariottiAfter completing a year on the world-class Oxford Executive MBA at Saïd Business School, two female scholarship winners reflect on their first year together at Oxford and look forward to the final few months ahead.

The programme is designed to help business leaders to realise their potential whilst continuing to thrive in their careers.

Dr Pamela Walker, Head of Health and a Director at Incite, was awarded the Forté Foundation scholarship for women. After completing her Doctorate in Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience at Oxford, Pamela forged a career in the pharmaceutical sector working first in clinical trials followed by research and consulting. In 2013, she joined Incite to develop its health practice and establish the business as a key player in the pharmaceutical space. Delivering significant year on year growth for the business, she works with clients across the globe to commercialise emerging assets and unlock opportunity for their products, portfolios and franchises.  She is also a mentor as part of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, supporting the next generation of female leaders in their careers.

Elena Mariotti was a recipient of the Oxford Executive MBA Scholarship for Women in association with the 30% Club. Elena is the EALA Leader of Accenture’s Digital Corrosion Management across the UK, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa. As Manager, Elena has been working in multimillion digital transformation programmes for major energy companies, leading multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural teams and helping senior clients optimise operational efficiency and reduce costs. Elena is also the Leader of Accenture’s Partnerships and External Events for Accent on Gender initiatives in Resources for the UK and Ireland, supporting women’s growth in the Energy & Utilities Sector. For her relentless passion to make a positive impact in the Energy Sector and fostering inclusion & diversity, she featured in Management Today and The Sunday Times as one of the 35 Under 35 Business Women in the UK.

Pamela: I cannot believe it has already been a year. It seems endlessly long and incredibly short at the same time. What are the top three things you will be taking from the past 12 months?

Elena: From a personal development standpoint my top three learnings from the past 12 months are: boosted self-awareness, increased resilience, and drive to constantly learn something new from each and every person around me.

The new input I got through lectures and interactions with our cohort helped me further boost my self-awareness, which strengthened my emotional intelligence. I noticed how this has helped me to build stronger relationships with my clients, team members and colleagues, to lead projects and push forward new ideas. It has been an incremental journey, and now looking backward at the past 12 months, I realise how much I have changed this key aspect of myself.

Resilience has been important to power through these very intense months, balancing a full-time job, with a busy life and a demanding EMBA. This helped me avoid getting stuck with day to day problems, and always seeing the bigger picture of this EMBA as much as at work and in my personal life.

Among the biggest learnings I take with me from the EMBA are the insights I have gleaned from everybody in our cohort. I have found it incredibly powerful and eye-opening to learn from senior executives from all over the world and from so many different backgrounds and sectors. This has pushed me to think outside of the box.

From an academic standpoint what has been most relevant for you?

Pamela: There are elements of a number of the core courses that have piqued my interest. I would say, however, that Firms and Markets as well as Strategy were my great passions this past year. With F&M I looked at a specific part of the pharmaceutical industry through a new lens that challenged and broadened my business acumen on the topic. With Strategy, albeit this is also my day to day, exploring the academic underpinnings and translating them into refining my current approaches with clients was brilliant.

Elena: And from a Business standpoint – have you been surprised at the relevance of any course in particular?

Pamela: Absolutely. My fascination with Technology and Operations Management completely blindsided me. I had never considered this to be a keen area of interest for me, but when challenged to apply the principles learnt in class to an assignment directly relevant to my business, I was able to critically assess, improve and redesign a process integral to my day to day.

But the first year hasn’t been all business – has it Elena?! What has been your most fun experience to date? Surely your birthday party that the whole class celebrated in style?

Elena: Indeed, I loved celebrating my birthday party in Emoji and Superhero themed dress with our cohort. This was one of the most fun experiences in the EMBA to date. I am a true believer that the social part is key. In business as in life, it is important to have fun to stimulate creativity and foster deep bonds with our teams, colleagues, clients. I apply this concept in my daily job where I see it brings positive results, so I wanted to bring this part of myself in the EMBA S17 class too.

Pamela: On a final note, looking ahead to our remaining time together, what are you most looking forward to?

Elena: I really look forward to the Strategic Leader module, I see this as a great opportunity for me to focus on my own role as leader and how I can make an impact in my future career, exploring the sociological, psychological and political factors which influence leadership and performance in the work environment.

I also look forward to the Inclusive Business Module in Cape Town, to learn more about how businesses and investors can use disruptive innovation and inclusivity to do business in emerging markets.

Above all, I look forward to seeing how each of us in our cohort will be transformed leaders by the end of this EMBA in April 2019.

Pamela: I completely agree.

For more information about joining the next class of the Oxford Executive MBA, visit the Saïd Business School website.

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