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Hashim Sirhindi

Degree:

Masters in Major Programme Management

Location:

France

Industry:

Telecommunications, Semiconductors

Year:

2020-21

By Hashim Sirhindi

Responding to these extraordinary times

2020 was an extraordinary year by many measures. Our whole planet had been impacted by a pandemic and there was a lot of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty around us. I recall conversations with friends, family, and peers where the sense of disbelief about the events was overwhelming. Consciously or unconsciously people kept looking for an explanation and an answer of sorts. A lot of information flew around, and it was difficult to fathom the insanity of the situation. The loss of life due to the pandemic became everyday news and the circumstances forced people into lockdowns. I think we all underestimated the power of an uncertain event to change the course of our being.

Amidst all this, my wife and I were expecting our firstborn, and this gave us a sense of calm and tranquillity, amongst the unrest of the outside world. It gave us something to look forward to, however, we did speculate about the world in which our firstborn was to come and as we both finished our contracts with our employers, there was a lot of room for speculation about the future…

By happenchance, I was reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius to keep myself distracted from the reality of the changing world. The reading of meditations encouraged the pensiveness in emotions and a particular quote caught my attention “…..If you remove your judgment of anything that seems painful, you yourself stand quite immune to pain.”.

I had been talking to my wife and some friends about my plans to use the quiet time and upskill myself. The best advice, I got was to pursue a certification in project management, which would make my profile more attractive for employers. I’m not sure, what quite triggered it but soon enough, I was convinced that my calling was the master’s programme in Major Programme Management at Saïd Business School. I am very fortunate that my wife and my family went along with the crazed idea of applying to Oxford, in the middle of a pandemic. I questioned many times that it is not ‘pragmatic’ and a ‘sensible’ thing to do would be to listen to my friends and pursue a certification.

‘“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” (Meditations, Marcus Aurelius).

It is now Feb 2021 and I’m a father to a beautiful daughter, which my wife named Almas (meaning diamond in Arabic) and I am humbled to be a student at, one of the best universities in the world (if not the best), in one of the best programmes it has to offer. An environment where critical thought thrives, diversity of thought, and culture is nurtured, and normative thinking challenged. Key attributes to imagine a better future for our next generations.

It has only been six months and I have been blessed to share this journey with the most amazing group of people from different corners of the globe, who are not only exceptionally bright scholars and practitioners of their fields, but incredibly kind people as well. Faculty and staff members, who encourage inclusiveness and exceptional learning. Reading lists, that make me wonder about the depth of knowledge of the faculty members, nothing short of a treasure chest!

In all fairness, these are not ideal times to benefit from the richness of culture and environment that the business school and the university have to offer but meeting the fellow colleagues, with the help of technology and experiencing the lectures delivered online by the helpful faculty and staff members, who have shown a lot of resolve and tenacity to tackle the challenge of transition in the face of an unprecedented situation, I’m confident that I took one of the best decisions in my life to apply to Oxford! Not, many business school students around the world can claim that their university is actively involved in producing the vaccination to fight the pandemic!

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