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Oxford's Said Business School

#1 Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 10:35


Hi Folks,

What's the general opinion here on Oxford's MBA programme as an entry point into Strat Consulting?

I have an offer from INSEAD and one from Oxford. INSEAD is the better ranked school by far, but since the big recruiters come to both I'm not sure if that makes much difference.

Oxford have also offered me a partial scholarship and I think I just liked the feel of the place better. Not sure if I should just pick the rational choice of INSEAD or the "gut" choice of Oxford.

Any thoughts?

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#2 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 10:50

Mr Said to Tango (#1)

Well... I'd go for Said. The problem with INSEAD is that it's in France - quite inconvenient really.

I don't know why you want to do an MBA anyway, you'll probably not get your money back on it for years or at least not without lots of hard work. Business schools are basically businesses themselves, they're just in the business of selling MBAs for as much as they can.

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#3 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 10:52

Mr Said to Mr Said (#2)

I forgot to mention, the 'partial scholarship' offer made me laugh. Talk about first degree price discrimination to mop up all the consumer surplus - at least they practice what they preach.

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#4 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 11:16

rb to Mr Said (#3)

I would definitely go for insead.

You will have a much more multi-cultural experience if you study outside your own country.

In fact that may be why you felt more comfortable with Oxford.......could be better to step outside your comfort zone and get familiar with an unfamiliar culture.

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#5 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 11:53

rb to rb (#4)

Why would he want a multicultural experience?? He's after an MBA, right? - Not a foreign languages degree.

Doing an MBA is hard enough without having cultural issues to contend with and team mates who don't speak proper English (no disrespect intended, their English will be far better than my german/french/italian etc).

And besides, Oxford is pretty diverse anyway.

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#6 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 11:58

Tango to rb (#4)

Well, both intakes are pretty international (over 90% of Oxford's intake is from outside the UK).

I've got plenty of international experience already, so broadening my CV on that front isn't a huge concern, but I would certainly agree the "comfort factor" is drawing me to Oxford.

It's just that every INSEAD alumni I've spoken to thinks I would be nuts to pick Oxford over INSEAD.

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#7 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 12:08

John Curtis-Oliver to Tango (#6)

I am an International Head-Hunter based in Dubai. I recruit into the strategy consulting market. I am reliably informed that the Oxford (and indeed Cambridge) MBA's are gaining an ever stronger reputation. I know many candidates who do not speak French and gained their MBA's from INSEAD. Many spent a semester in Singapore. If you are seeing the MBA as a route into strategy consulting, INSEAD will score far more points than Said. If you want to tell me a little more about your background, I may be able to offer more constructive advice. In my experience, an INSEAD candidate will win the vote over a Said candidate in the real world every time. Bear in mind that your qualification stays with you for life - you have to think beyond the first job application. Your INSEAD MBA will stand tall in 10 years time but we do not yet know how the Said MBA will be viewed in the future. It depends how confident you are. If your discomfort with INSEAD means that you may be unhappy and not actually pass the MBA, clearly you should go to Said!!

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#8 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 13:18

Tango to John Curtis-Oliver (#7)

Hi John,

My background is a 1st class degree from a top UK uni, been working in IT consulting for the past 5 years. Time for a change now, and strategy consulting seems a good fit and an MBA from a top school the best route in.

INSEAD actually require 2 languages to get in, and I will need to study like crazy over the next three months or so to get my 2nd lang up to scratch. I think if I have to, I can do this - but it will be v.stressful.

As you mentioned, INSEAD has a campus in singapore, and were I to take up the offer I would certainly take advantage of this.

So really, the "hard" factors are:

1. INSEAD is a better brand (higher ranked)

2. Oxford is cheaper

3. INSEAD has this language hurdle

The "soft" factors are

1. Oxford is part of a university so better mix of people, facilities etc. INSEAD is only a business school (stuck with those crazy MBA types all the time!)

2. Oxford seems to offer better balance in terms of extra-curricular activities (both courses are intense, but INSEAD more so)

3. Oxford is in a city, whereas INSEAD is in the middle of nowhere (Fontainebleau)

So on the hard factors it's just a question of "Is INSEAD so much better than Oxford that it's worth the extra time, cost, and worry?"

On the soft "lifestyle" factors Oxford come out ahead, but I really don't know how much weight I should give this. I've no doubt I have the intellectual horsepower to succeed at both places (750+ GMAT etc).

I'd appreciate any input you have on the matter.

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#9 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 15:28

re to Tango (#8)

How much spare time do you think you have on the MBA?

Forget the extra-curricular. MBA is heavily weighted to the work end of the work life balance - albeit it is interesting so does not have to feel like work.

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#10 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
21/02/2007 16:36

Tango to re (#9)

Spoke to a couple of students at the open day about whether they do actually get time outside of work, and they said they do (though obviously there are crunch times), and the school tries to encourage students to have a life in the university outside of the MBA.

Plus the course is a bit longer than INSEAD and follows the Oxford terms so is not quite so intense as INSEAD's 10months.

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#11 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
22/02/2007 05:48

John Curtis-Oliver to Tango (#8)

I would say that good prospects within strat consulting if you have the IT consulting experience from a known company and good academics all round (+ the MBA hopefully). They do look at the GMAT scores as well when you apply so you should score well there and be well suited to some of the more numerical case study exercises. You clearly have the intellectual ability to pass well wherever you go. Overall, the Oxford University brand should hold up. You may have to work a bit harder to market yourself at the end but if you think you will be happier at Oxford, you should probably go there. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow - no point in being miserable. Although some other UK schools are better known, the Oxford MBA is ranked behind only London in the UK so it should stand up. Again, all this means is that you may have to make the high ranking very clear in any applications you make when you are looking for work at then end. It sounds like you are having doubts about the whole thing - perhaps there is a 3rd way you have not thought of yet! You should check the Financial Times rankings for MBA schools.

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#12 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
22/02/2007 10:41

Tango to John Curtis-Oliver (#11)

Thanks for your comments John. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say I'd be "miserable" at INSEAD - I'm sure both would offer great experiences, it's just I think I'd enjoy Oxford more.

I've spent lots of time poring over the various rankings...I guess part of my thinking is that I wouldn't have bothered applying to INSEAD if it wasn't the best ranked 1yr course in Europe. Now I'm wondering whether that rank alone is enough to justify going there. Everyone seems to think "brand matters" when it comes to MBAs, but if both Oxford and INSEAD will get your CV in front of somebody, does it matter much beyond that?

I'm pretty sure I want to do this - I know most people probably do the MBA just as a ticket to their next job, but I'm genuinely keen to learn and for this year to be a valuable experience.

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#13 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
22/02/2007 13:56

Dave to Tango (#12)

I hope you do realise that all 'employment' roads lead to an 'Oxbridge degree' . Who cares even if a potential candidate took Basket weaving course at Oxbridge..NOBODY cares about an indivisual deptartmental ranking- its really all about OXBRIDGE- yes I am screaming- I have been through it and I know it!!!!

Enough said.. ( and BTW I would be stumped if you still chose INSEAD over Oxbridge- wake up and smell the coffee)


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#14 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
22/02/2007 15:00

Tango to Dave (#13)

Oh I wish it were that simple. Everyone in strat consulting I've spoken to, without exception, says INSEAD is by far the more respected brand.

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#15 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
28/09/2008 12:14

anon to Tango (#14)

Hi Tango - are you still there?

It's MBA season again, and I'd be interested to know which you chose: Insead or Oxford?

How did things work out re. entry to strategy consulting?

Just in case you still browse this board...

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#16 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
28/09/2008 12:47

Cynic to anon (#15)

MBA is probably a waste of money anyway. A lot of seasoned managers now see an MBA as a mark of somebody who thinks a certificate and 12 months of playing smartarse with a bunch of foreigners is a ticket to the top. I actually heard one guy say "an MBA usually indicates a lack of common sense, someone who believes the hype to the extent that they'll invest £50K and lose 2 years' of earnings just to learn stuff that will probably just land them in a pressure cooker environment for mediocre pay and little job security anyway".

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#17 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
28/09/2008 18:32

Ace to Cynic (#16)

Insead is definitely much more prestigious. Said business school hasn't been around as long, and so it hasn't been able to build up its repuatation as much.

The Oxbridge brand does give it some credance, but Insead is respected as much as Harvard.

Over time Said business school may achieve the same level of prestige but not quite yet.

That being said, the best thing to do is find out what ex-Said students are doing now.

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#18 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
29/09/2008 09:14

Evil Consultant to Tango (#1)

Hi Tango,

I faced a similar choice a couple of years ago; a top-10 MBA programme vs. a top-5 MBA programme under virtually identical circumstances. After a great deal of thought, I picked the lesser ranked programme on the basis that it felt right for me. Not a terribly rational basis, I agree, but it worked out well for me in the end.

INSEAD is a very big brand as far as Euro MBAs go and is very well respected. Said is not bad and has the Oxford brand behind it, but does not carry quite the same clout. Those things said, either will get you Associate interviews at McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Oliver Wyman, ATK, Booz etc... which is all that really matters to be honest. Once your foot is across that threshold for interviews, they couldn't give a dangnabbit where you got your MBA. If you come across as smart enough and a good fit then they'll hire you.

Best of luck.


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#19 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
29/09/2008 09:37

anon to Evil Consultant (#18)

What would you get paid if you joined one of the above firms at the typical level for MBA entry (i.e someone with 3-5 years experience and an MBA)?

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#20 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
30/09/2008 14:34

Mcstrat to anon (#19)

McKinsey Associate is 70K base with occasional room for [slight] negotiation.

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#21 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
30/09/2008 14:44

Cilla Black to Mcstrat (#20)

Worra load of crap boys and girls! 70 measly grand for all that stress, the hours and travel! I think I'll stik as a secretary doin 9 to 5 for 35 grand thanks very much. What a lorra laffs!

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#22 RE: Oxford's Said Business School
01/10/2008 17:03

helmut to Cilla Black (#21)

I have hired 3 people from Said, all of Indian origin. Calibre is OK, but frankly they do not get much more out of it than what they would have got on a good consulting firm's graduate training program. They invariably have unrealistic salary expectations and have to settle for less (we have not had to pay more than 60K) - Said set excessively high expectations as part of their pitch to get people onto the scheme, and it bother me that these guys are calculating an unrealistic return on investment. Insead is in another league.

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