Tanja Ohlson


DPhil Programme in Management Studies




Corporate Communications


Started in 2015

By Tanja Ohlson

Being a Rep: up, close and personal with the Business School

As DPhil students, we are in a position that is somewhat in between everyone at the Saïd Business School. We are not just students, not yet faculty. We work next to the MBA or executive students in the library or sit with them in the cafeteria on a daily basis. At the same time, several of us DPhils are busy preparing tutorials or classes for younger students and sometimes even the MBAs.

Not a student yet not an academic

Most of us learn pretty quickly how to balance these different roles and there are many ways to do so. When it comes to the other students, for example the MBAs or MFEs, we know them from the colleges and other student events. It is very interesting to listen to their experience and fun to party with them.

Interaction with world class scholars

While it is important to get to know the other students and to make friends, it is probably even more important for us to build our academic network. It is fairly easy to get in touch with the professors and other researchers here at Oxford Saïd. Most of them have an open door policy and as long as we are proactive, we can approach them and talk to them very easily.

In addition, we can meet them during different seminars and listen to their talks, discussions or opinions. Since many seminars are held by world class academics from other universities around the world, we not only get to interact with the amazing faculty at Oxford Saïd, but also with those professors whose papers we read.

Being a Rep

For some of us, there is another, and, in my opinion, extremely beneficial way of balancing these roles. For the past year, I have had the honour to represent the DPhil cohort towards the school as one of the DPhil representatives or ‘reps’. I have participated in meetings on behalf of my fellow DPhil students, communicated our problems, concerns or simply views towards the school, and fed back important messages and changes from the school to the cohort.

I share the position with two other reps and the experience has been very gratifying. In the meetings we not only got to interact with some very senior professors, we also learned a lot about Oxford Saïd and our programme. By listening to their point of view on how they are educating us as well as on other issues within the school, we got a deeper understanding of why things work in a certain way.

This does not mean that they shared any secrets with us, but just the regular interaction and discussion of different issues or concerns has put us in a better position. I feel that we are now more aware of how to plan our progress over the next years, that we have a deeper understanding of what is expected of us and what to focus on in order to ultimately be in a good position for the job market.

Making a difference

In addition, we now know much better how Oxford Saïd “ticks”- and we actually got to make a difference. We got to vote on some important changes that will potentially affect many future DPhil students as well as some of us. For example, we were able to redesign the conference funding for all DPhil students. This will allow us to attend more conferences and thus get better acquainted with a wider academic community.

Parties and dinners

Last but not least, as DPhil reps we were responsible for planning and organizing some social activities for the entire cohort. This leads us back to making friends: while the MBAs or MFEs leave the school after only one year, the DPhils stay for four years- and are all in the ‘same boat’. Thus, organizing dinners, birthday celebrations or other social events for our cohort, with the support of the business school, was just as important and gratifying as getting to be up, close and personal with the business school!


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