Oxford diary - The final countdown

As Danielle Esterhuysen completes her year at Oxford, the workload is still heavy but her experience has been worth it.

Once the last-minute rush of everyone handing their Finance 2 assignments was over we were all looking forward to an enjoyable last week at Oxford. The final question of our assignment asked us to develop a novel test regarding shareholder activism. We were given the opportunity to research and come up with our own ideas, which further strengthened the idea that Oxford wants students to push new boundaries and not merely learn from text books.

Last lectures

Our last lectures finished on 17 November with the Management Control Systems Module. It was very interactive and real-world based, with many case studies and much class interaction. By this stage the class knew each other quite well and so there were often debates both in and out of the classroom.

Computers are such a big part of both our work and personal lives these days, and it was rather scary yet informative to see how a badly run implementation of a new IT system, or an unwillingness to move with the times in the correct manner, can spell disaster and even bankruptcy for a company.

Amid all of the doom and gloom of badly implemented ERP systems and the like, we did manage to fit in the 'Oxy awards' which were given out by one of the more charismatic class members for non-academic attributes. These ranged from late-night leadership to the person most likely to fall asleep at the dinner table, and it was wonderful to look back on the year with so many memories and laughs.

We had a wonderful dinner at Green College on the final night and were lucky enough to climb to the top of the spires from which you can see across Oxford.

The business school was also fairly busy with various business conferences held on site, as well as the excitement and preparation for the Silicon Valley expo.

Our next hurdle is the final assignment and then the 10,000 word dissertation that is due in the early part of next year. This is a great opportunity not only to bounce ideas off the mentors we have been assigned, but also to use the libraries and wide information network that Oxford has. The dissertation is around a problem experienced (most likely within your sector and company), and how you plan to overcome it. Hopefully these will be of value to the various employers once handed in.

Charitable ambitions

I currently work in leveraged finance at Credit Suisse but am looking to start an HIV charity in South Africa next year and so I will be researching through the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford and will hopefully come up with a sustainable proposal.

Having finished lectures we are now also included in the Oxford Business Alumni which allows us to attend various events. The first one is already booked - the 1 February New Year's dinner at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London.

I've certainly made some great friends in the class and look forward to finishing up the final assignment and dissertation in the lead-up to the course end.

Danielle Esterhuysen won the second Accountancy scholarship to study Diploma in Financial Strategy at Oxford's Said Business School. Her original winning essay, on risk in business, was published in the May 2007 issue, p56. For more details about the Diploma, visit www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/diploma, or call 01865 422574.

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