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Admissions Director Q&A: Oxford Saïd Business School’s Ian Rogan and Anna Farrus

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Ian Rogan is the MBA program director at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. He joined Saïd in October 2016. Rogan had previously worked at the Yale School of Management as the assistant dean for the EMBA program, leading its expansion and restructuring. Prior to that, he was based in Geneva, Switzerland, where he served as the associate director of North America at the World Economic Forum.

Anna Farrus is the head of admissions and financial aid at Oxford Saïd, where she has been a member of the admissions team for more than a decade. Prior to joining Saïd, Farrus served as the MBA admissions area coordinator for the IESE Business School from 2001-2006.

We were able to hear insights from both Rogan and Farrus about the MBA program and admissions process at Oxford Saïd. The information they shared with us covered everything from career development to writing an admissions essay. Read on to learn more.

Clear Admit: What’s the single most exciting development, change or event happening at Oxford Saïd this coming year?

Oxford Saïd MBA Program Director Ian Rogan

Ian Rogan: I am particularly excited about the growth of our Career Development team as well as our enhanced Talent Development Programme.

We have grown our careers team from seven to 20 since the summer of 2016. This was in response to a greater demand for conversations around career direction, as well as the increasing diversity of careers available to our students.

We now have established teams focused on career coaching and employer engagement across four key areas: consulting, finance, global industries, and social impact. They are supported by a strong operational team who help organize a range of careers sessions each week—from employer presentations and recruitment events to conversations with alumni in key sectors and individual development sessions.

We have also enhanced the focus on individual career and personal development—reshaping our MBA induction process, known as MBA Launch, to build in more time for reflection on career direction and the development of career-related skills such as interviewing and personal development. This has enabled the team to offer a vastly increased number of one-on-one sessions, supporting students to effectively plan and prepare for their preferred career pathway.

Our MBA Talent Development Programme kicked off with a session that encouraged students to reflect on their strengths and development areas and to build a personal development plan. This included a self-reflection tool to help students think about their own approach in relation to our new Talent Development Framework, based on four leadership themes that our employers need from day one. Our approach enables students to focus on the leadership or ‘soft skills’ we know are important to their long-term success.

MBA students are then able to choose from a range of developmental options to suit their personal needs, including a range of workshops around presentation skills, coaching others, and mindfulness.

CA: What is the one area of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

IR: I wish more applicants knew about our 1+1 MBA programme. It provides an opportunity to combine a master’s degree from one of several Oxford University departments with our one-year MBA.

1+1 MBAs spend the first year completing a master’s in their chosen subject. This year, for example, we have students combining their MBAs with Obstetrics and Gynecology, Computer Science, Public Policy and Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy, to name just a few. They bring this focused and in-depth knowledge with them into the MBA in the second year, where it is combined with a world-class business education.

1+1 MBAs leave Oxford University with the ability to use management practice to leverage subject-specific knowledge in real-world business scenarios. It’s a truly unique offering, and one that I would recommend our applicants consider.

CA: Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.).

Ian Rogan
Oxford Saïd Head of Admissions and Financial Aid Anna Farrus

Anna Farrus: Applications have to be submitted by one of our four application deadlines. The admissions advisors will then ensure that the application is complete before we start the review.

Applications are reviewed in the first instance by at least two admissions and recruitment officers to decide on interviews. A member of the faculty or a senior member of staff conducts interviews on a one-to-one basis. After the interview, all applications will be reviewed again by the Admissions Committee to make final decisions.

CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? One key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write them?

AF: Essays are a very important part of the application, and candidates should spend a significant amount of time writing them. The essays give us insight into the candidate’s personality, motivations, and goals. Essays are also a great place to discuss weaknesses or gaps in your CV, academic background, or professional career. A big mistake would be using another school’s essay to apply to us.

CA: Is there anything else you’d like to share about Oxford Saïd or the application process?

AF: We recommend candidates to apply early, as we can’t guarantee that places will still be available in the final stages. Also, if you want to apply for University of Oxford scholarships, applications have to be submitted by our stage 2 deadline.

Do not hesitate to contact the admissions team. We are here to help you with anything we can. Learn how to apply today!

Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.