Fridays from the Frontline: Oxford MBAs Build Back Better
Get a glimpse of what Oxford MBA students have been doing to support struggling businesses during the pandemic in this edition of Fridays from the Frontline.
Oxford MBAs Build Back Better
By Ros Pacey
Oxford MBA students have been assisting small businesses and non-governmental organisations as they respond to the unprecedented challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has presented.
At a time when planned internships have been disrupted and the job market is uncertain, the Oxford Saïd Service Corps provides paid internships for MBA students helping organisations respond to the crisis. MBAs in the Service Corps receive a living wage stipend from the Dean’s Response Fund whilst gaining experience responding to the world crisis.
The Dean’s Response Fund finances three initiatives: the Service Corps, support for student entrepreneurs and scholarships. They all contribute to the school’s collective focus on building a better global economy and society.
The first Service Corps MBA placements started in July and there are close to 50 opportunities available, mainly working for organisations in the social impact, sustainability, and environmental sectors. Vera Argyle, Omar El Enna and Jack Hanna are the MBA student leaders of the programme.
Management of the students in the Service Corps is administered by Argyle. Her team have been working hard to match students with Service Corps opportunities that will allow them to maximise the impact of their skills and expertise while at the same time allowing them to answer the inevitable future interview question “What did you do during Covid-19?”
Fellow MBA Omar El Enna manages the contracts for the initiative as well as working with Big Issue Invest, the impact investing arm of The Big Issue. Big Issue Invest aims to deliver impact through supporting sustainable social enterprises with capital and expertise. As social enterprises struggle in the pandemic, El Enna has been working with Big Issue Invest’s management, speaking with funders and looking at ways to ensure that capital continues to flow to social enterprises that are tackling some of the UK’s most challenging problems.
Sourcing and management of Service Corps internship opportunities is done by MBA Jack Hanna alongside his Service Corps role as Research Fellow at ReGenerate, a UK think tank researching mechanisms to encourage businesses to be more purpose-driven.
All the MBAs are undertaking this work from home alongside other challenges, not least completing MBA coursework.
Whilst the current circumstances MBA students find themselves in could not have been predicted, their focus remains clear: “We always knew this was going to be a year where we came and we worked hard. People have been really engaged and motivated by this project. We can’t wait to see what the Service Corps achieve,” Hanna said.
“The Service Corps provides an opportunity for students to receive financial support not only as they tackle the real challenges of COVID-19 personally, but also as they take up the opportunity of giving back to a global community trying to build back better.” added John Lindsay, Corporate Partnerships Executive at Saïd Business School. “The non-profit organisations and small businesses that host members from the Service Corps are able not only to benefit from the unique expertise the Oxford MBAs can provide technically, but also the passion of the students to improve their society and support these groups through the crisis.”