The Cam-bridge to possibility

By Jacs. Bucket List Number: 7 – Attend a world class university (Part Two) Cambridge MBA


What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of an awesome dream? My bucket-list is by large focussed on extraordinary experiences, usually limited to a particular moment. But what if your awesome dream lasted a year, or perhaps even a lifetime? Would you want to wake up? Or would you hope that you could snuggle in and sleep a little longer? I’m coming into my fifth week at Cambridge, and believe me, I am snuggling in and adding as many characters and events to this dream as I possibly can. Luckily for me, the props and resources that I can draw on to tell the story of my dream have excellent foundations, beautiful craftsmanship, and extremely good taste – and that’s just the people – wait ’til you see the architecture!


The foundations:


One of my reasons for wishing to attend a world-class university was to understand what that really meant. We hear the aspirational terms of “best in class”, “world class”, “globally minded” all the time, but without context those words are really meaningless. I find that to be authentic, the best thing to do is to actually live the experience. “Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” extends beyond understanding perspectives, but also into understanding fundamental roots.  So here I am studying at the same university as 89 Nobel Prize winners, living in the same college as Emma Thompson and Sylvia Plath, quite possibly the luckiest girl in the world, and all I can think is … when on earth are they going to realise they let me in by mistake? It is an absurd and humbling notion to think that I have the opportunity stand on the shoulders of the intellectual giants that have studied here, when I am just me. But I wouldn’t give this chance up for anything, as these people are giants, and let me tell you, the view from their shoulders is great!Cambridge MBA Cambridge University is absolutely a place of opportunity. The biggest problem I am having is not in finding extraordinary things to do, but rather in deciding which dream I want to pursue. The concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) is a key issue when the opportunity cost of not taking that chance could mean missing out on discovering the next google, meeting President Clinton and founding a social enterprise, or playing in an 800 year old traditional sporting match against Oxford with the Royal Family in attendance. On our first day, a speaker said to us that she had had to bring the following philosophy into her life in order to keep balance and perspective… either she said “Oh hell yes” to a chance, or it was a no. There was no room (or time) in her life for mediocre maybes. So I have taken this sage advice and have applied it to my time here…. and I think I might be losing my voice, because I am saying “Oh Hell Yeah” to everything!!




My days at the moment are starting at 5am and ending at 11:30pm (this includes Sundays). The MBA programme is rigorous and fast moving. Single lectures cover whole years worth of undergraduate courses, forcing us to prepare deeply and also to play as a team in calling on our strengths; plus they end with applause. Cold-calling in class had me up the front of class answering a “portfolio investment and CAPM” question, something that I was able to do having been tutored earlier that morning by a friend who has 8 years experience in econometrics as part of a Prime Ministerial team. They say you should learn from the best, well it turns out that means not only my lecturers but also my classmates. I have found the Cambridge MBA student to be humble, authentic, driven and good fun. Every week in MBA-land equates to about a month in real-time as the demand for excellence and volume of work could only be achieved through reliance on each other, and a level of respect and trust, formed rapidly and under a large amount of pressure. To achieve this level of trust and respect, there also has been a decent volume of socialising. It is an awesome thing to be able to hear of an event and have 140 people to call on to bring the party. And let me tell you, outside of the textbooks, these people are equally high achievers in having fun. We already are in teams working on our first consulting project for real-world clients. In my group we have a successful property entrepreneur, a banker, a private equity ninja and an e-commerce leader. We are working on a social enterprise, which is really exciting, and the result of this project could have a real impact on the future direction of this organisation. It comes back to the authentic nature of the Cambridge MBA. They really are invested in setting us up to be leaders in business; the practical format of the programme combined with the mentoring and development investment is authentic and therefore impactful.

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Cambridge MBA

Good Taste

The traditions at Cambridge are also part of the magic. I’m particularly fond of the college legends. For example the poet Lord Byron was forbidden by college regulations to keep a dog at Trinity College… so Byron kept a bear (which was not explicitly forbidden in the college charters). He wrote to his Southwell friend Elizabeth Pigot on October 26th 1807: “I have got a new friend, the finest in the world, a tame Bear, when I bought him here, they asked me what I meant to do with him, and my reply was “he should sit for a fellowship” [become a professor here]. And so his bear had the sole use of the apartment in the turret and used to follow him around college.


Unfortunately there are no bears at my college, however there is great beauty and history. My favourite Cambridge college experience has been attending our College formal dinner (held weekly) where we were welcomed in by a choir from the balcony above the hall, then dined by candle light under the watchful portraits of past College Principals. It may sound old-fashioned and stuffy, but if you embrace the magic of it all, and then realise just how lovely the people around you are, it very quickly shifts from intimidating to wondrous. Cambridge MB

Futhermore, last Wednesday I found myself having dinner with an executive team member from one of the worlds largest consumer goods corporations. Being a fan of authentic conversations  I was curious to know if I had much in common with one of the worlds top businessmen (beyond the usual MBA-type questions). Turns out, he is a huge fan of Rugby, has a wonderful family and is very interested in the next generation of women in business. His authentic interest has resulted in an exchange of emails and an incredible mentor in this next part of my journey. Standing on the shoulders of giants is one thing, but sharing dinner with them – well that’s a new twist on Jacks climb up the beanstalk! Cambridge MBA   bridge MBA  C


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ridge MBA












So as the leaves turn golden I have realised that I’m about to head into my second winter in a row. That presents challenges in itself. Perhaps the reason Cambridge helps you live your dreams is because they don’t allow you any time to sleep! With rowing and sport conditioning training every morning combined with the full course load and post-class commitments there isn’t much sleep happening… but figuratively, I’ll be hitting that snooze button to extend this dream just as long as I can. Cambridge MBA 


Read part one of my journey  

To read accounts of the programme check out this link:

Some of my classmates blogs can be found at:

Elesse Eddy

Vignesh Chandran

Rob Hall

Andrew Quan

Gopal Rao

Rushil Vallabh

George Thomas



One response to “The Cam-bridge to possibility”

  1. sam parr says:

    What an amazing opportunity!

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