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After a week of chopping, changing and testing different electives, most if not all of Oxford’s MBA class have now finalised their timetables for Trinity Term and are starting to knuckle down again for another 10 week term.

Such is the breadth of electives offered by Oxford in this penultimate stage of the MBA that many of us are trying to find time to “audit” one or more subjects that we couldn’t fit into our formal timetables. The term really kicked off with a cultural bang in the first week with the second annual India Night.

Following on from the highly successful Chinese New Year celebration, this event allowed us all the opportunity to let our hair down and celebrate with Bollywood performances, music, dancing and even a mock wedding ceremony. With most of the Oxford MBA class from outside the UK, these types of events allow for an authentic and very entertaining look at one’s classmates’ culture, traditions, beliefs and of course food and drink.

In spite of the somewhat relaxed attitude, there are a couple of key issues facing the MBA class at present. We are all eagerly awaiting our Hilary term exam results as well as that for the New Business Development project submitted on the first day of this term.

As one fundamental is completed another one starts, with activity building among the students in finalising their selections for the Strategic Consulting Project. This concluding phase, and a critical aspect of the MBA Degree at Oxford, is an eight week “consulting assignment” that takes place during July and August in which teams of four students undertake projects with external clients.

The projects on offer hold exciting prospects, offering not only the opportunity to utilise our expertise with companies in a broad range of industries but also, in some cases, to travel to various destinations around the world. I will be taking a team of my classmates to Sydney to work on a very interesting and challenging project - a great opportunity for all of us to demonstrate our learning in the real world.

Further to all of this, one word seems to be becoming more and more prevalent in the daily discussions among Oxford’s MBA students: “job”. For most, this will be the other big time commitment of this term. I must admit that I do feel that I am at an advantage to be here on sabbatical leave, returning as a partner to my firm in Australia and not having to invest the time and carry the stress that seems to be building for many.

Nonetheless, the market for MBAs appears stronger than in recent years and I believe that those who have already actively pursued employment have been encouraged by the reception they are receiving in the marketplace.

It would be remiss of me not to emphasise that it has been an absolute privilege to have shared this year with an amazing group of people, and the past few weeks have again proven the calibre of this class.

MBA students organised and hosted the First Annual Private Equity Forum, an event that brought together more than 300 high level individuals from the broad sphere of the private equity industry to discuss and debate issues, opportunities and trends.

An interesting point was the significant number of students attending from other business schools. The 2005 Oxford Business Forum, to be held this week, will be the flagship event of the MBA class, with an outstanding panel of speakers and topics, facilitating a series of discussions on emerging markets such as India and China.

On the social side, now that the weather is warmer, many of us are throwing ourselves into sport in a big way. Rowing, cricket, basketball and hockey are just some of the sports that have attracted large numbers of MBAs this term. In addition, many of the class will be travelling to France at the end of May to compete in the high prestige MBA Tournament.

It may be that we have all been inspired by our classmate Jason Flickinger who, after training twice a day for six months, won his seat in the heaviest Blue boat in history and comprehensively defeated the crew from “that other place” in the 151st University Boat Race.

Whatever the reason, it certainly makes for a pleasant break from the workload and a real chance to enjoy one of the great benefits of a collegiate university.

From a personal perspective, the last few months have been tremendous for the whole family, with many visitors from home - a trend that is set to continue for the next month or so. The most amazing thing, however, is the fact that we are now starting to talk about going home.

Admittedly this has all been brought forward a little by the fact that my strategic consulting project is largely Sydney based and one can’t help feel a little jealous of those who will spend their summer in Oxford, the UK or other parts of the northern hemisphere, particularly when it is winter down under.

Nonetheless, it is a great project and it does present an efficient opportunity to relocate the family and for Deb, my wife, and Michael, my son, particularly to re-establish themselves in Sydney life. I expect that serious planning for the “garage sale” will commence within the next few weeks, but ideally families in the incoming MBA class will want much of our stuff. Including the Rover 25 sitting in the driveway.

However, I must stop there as I am clearly getting far too far ahead of myself with so much for all of us to do and enjoy in Oxford, both academic and otherwise, in the next 10 weeks.

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