After MBA in UK, Oxford Grad Sees More To Business Than Banking!
Andrei Stephens moved from the West coast to Oxford to study an MBA. Visa laws made it difficult to stay in Britain, but after an MBA in the UK, he sees more to business than consulting and banking!
Andrei Stephens has just graduated from The University of Oxford: Saïd Business School – a top-ten MBA in the UK's MBA Rankings. Living in Portland, Oregon, he was attracted by the lure of international exposure and favoured the one-year MBA model akin to international programs.
While there are a wide-range of top US b-schools on the West coast, Andrei was attracted to Oxford because of the school’s focus on entrepreneurship and their famous educational rigor.
Andrei is passionate about MBAs and thinks there are more career paths than just banking and consulting. He joined the BusinessBecause team as Director of Marketing in September and believes that technology can improve the recruitment process for companies that want to hire MBAs, but don’t engage in mass on-campus recruitment drives.
Although from Portland – a city famed for its “hipster” culture of fixed-gear bicycles, independent coffee and indie music scene – Andrei does too little bloging to be classified in that elite social group. He was interested in a career in England, but the UK’s visa laws made it immensely difficult to stay on in the country post-MBA.
Find out how Andrei is hoping to use an MBA to help b-schools, their students and employers achieve their goals!
The majority of top-ten b-schools are in the US - why did you want to study across the Atlantic?
I saw the one-year international business school model as more attractive. My purpose in doing an MBA was to expand my skills and develop my international network and brand. I wasn't trying to get a job at a big investment bank or consultancy, so the two-year summer internship model wasn't appropriate to my goals.
I think that international study is a good way to expand your horizons, open up to new professional possibilities, and create a much wider and more diverse network. I'd already seen the positive effect of doing my undergraduate degree across the country from where I grew up, and was interested in enriching my global perspective.
What attracted you to Oxford Said Business School?
Since my reason for going to an international school was to develop my brand, network and exposure, I thought that I really couldn't improve on the Oxford brand or network. I appreciated the school's focus on social entrepreneurship through the Skoll Centre, and I wanted to experience the famous Oxford educational rigor.
While Reed College has a great history and reputation in certain circles, I was sick of people saying "where?" when I told them where I went to school.
Did you find it difficult getting a Visa to work in the UK?
Well I actually found it nearly impossible. It's a very interesting thing - a bit of a culture shock, actually - to graduate from the country's premier educational institution and be told you have three months to secure permanent sponsorship.
I can't imagine that happening in the US, where it is a well-understood political consensus that we subsidize universities significantly and should encourage their brightest graduates to stay in the country to work.
That contrasts with the UK, where even though I graduated from a UK university and am working with a UK company, it would have been incredibly expensive and difficult to even be considered for a visa.
I think the UK should probably try to improve their ability to distinguish high-skill immigration, and bring in more talent.
You are also Lead Editor - Case Studies with Africa IQ. How did you get that job?
I met the organization's Chief Innovation Officer at the Oxford Africa Business Conference - which I helped plan and execute as a steering committee member of the Oxford Business Network for Africa - and our discussions eventually led to my joining the group.
I've been interested and engaged in African business and innovation for years, most recently working with the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Accra, which teaches entrepreneurs-to-be the finer points of programming and business and helps them launch companies.
I think that there is essentially unlimited opportunity in Africa at this point, and my work with Africa IQ has grown organically from passionate advocacy and extensive collaboration.
What inspired you to join BusinessBecause as a Director of Marketing?
I like the idea of an elite global network - just for MBAs - that serves as a meeting place and source of information, and allows people to target their recruits, schools, and employers more intelligently.
I believe in the power of technology to improve historically problematic outcomes. The MBA is a professional degree, but a general degree. The well-known career plan for MBAs has to do with extensive on-campus recruiting at top business schools, which limits the ability of any one company to search widely, and limits the ability of companies that need specific skills to compete for attention
Why do you think MBAs are a great demographic to hire?
The MBA can be a versatile degree. It certainly teaches graduates how to do the things that MBAs have historically been called on to do: banking and consulting. But it really can teach students to work in teams, solve difficult problems, and see things from global and diverse perspectives.
There will be no shortage of difficult problems requiring cross-discipline teamwork in the future, and MBAs can be trained to be flexible and thorough above all else. Top MBAs are ideally suited to rapidly-changing business climates and will be valuable to any number of industries for the foreseeable future.
What are you hoping to achieve out of your Directorship with BusinessBecause?
I'm hoping to help create value for our partners, our owners, and of course our users. We make sure to develop extensive, user-oriented content and provide a platform that helps all stakeholders achieve their goals. If I communicate that value effectively to students, schools and employers, I will have done my job.
You're based in Portland, Oregon - does that make you a "hipster"?
Portland offers a wonderful quality of life, and thriving indie music, craft beer, and fixed-gear bicycle culture. While I do like to enjoy the finer coffees, ride my bike, and there is an arts school down the street from my apartment, I think I probably work too hard and blog too little to count as a hipster.