Ramez Hanafi


Masters in Major Programme Management




Fintech & Payments



By Ramez Hanafi

Connect the dots

One of my earliest memories of school was being in pre-kindergarten. I must have been four years old? Miss Wheeler. It’s incredible how the mind works. Thinking back, I can still hear the voices of insecurity and feel the panic of a beating heart. The excitement. Wonder. Passion.

What’s changed? Is learning any different now? Sure, the ideas are more advanced. Concepts are more complex. But if you think back and pinpoint the most rewarding moments in learning, what were they? If you can imagine, as early as kindergarten, kids are off learning math, science and language arts. But when learning something new, what are the moments where one “gets it”? That “aha!?” Often, it’s a matter of relating it to an experience. A link to something you’ve lived, seen, processed and filed away. An answer to the question. I mean, what’s thinking in the end…it’s the process of asking and answering questions. Isn’t it?

Fast forward to teenage me. You couldn’t get me to sit and listen. I tried. I mean, I loved the idea of having my life together. I was captain of the football team. A good talker. And pretty good at making friends. But, looking back all I wanted to do back then was get out and “do stuff”. Not much of an appetite to sit. Listen. Or think for that matter! The idea of spending time in my thoughts was almost impossible. Reflecting on concepts and linking them to create a new thought was still a way away. I can still hear my teacher saying “this is important and will be on your test next week. Be sure to understand it”. “Ah, I’ll figure it out later…”, I remember thinking. Famous last words. And looking back, I don’t know if I would tell that version of me otherwise. It was important to not-do as much as it was to-do. My first job pumping gas at a station. My botched attempt at delivering newspapers. The summer I worked in a pizzeria to travel to Europe and meet my estranged half-sister in Venice. All foundational experiences in those early years. Why fight the natural inclination to wander and explore?

Ramsay Hanafi. Venice. Aug. 1999.

Ramsay Hanafi. Venice. Aug. 1999.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever”. Famous words by Steve Jobs that “never let him down and made all the difference in his life”. To be a study of life, you need to first live. I completed my first bachelors almost twenty years ago. My first master’s five years ago. And now, my second. What did it teach me? Academic study only gets better with age. The long hours of reading. The patience to think deep. Be critical. Still. Reflect. I’d even go as far as to say we should flip the process – work and experience more in our younger years and study later. And so, it brings me here. To Oxford. An MSc in Major Program Management with nearly four decades of life behind me. A curriculum fitting of its title – a major program in this next chapter in this life of learning.

Back to top of article

Share this post:

follow us in feedly