Claire Smith


Masters in Major Programme Management



Claire Smith spent 27 years as a diplomat, and then re-invented herself. She now runs her own consultancy. She has lived and worked in many places, including China, Pakistan, Germany, Switzerland and the Middle East and for a number of organisations, including the UK government, the German Foreign Ministry and a Swiss bank.  She has been chair of the governing board of a UK primary school, a non-executive director, and a visiting professor.  She speaks German, French and Mandarin, but gave up learning Arabic in favour of this programme.

Sort by date


Posted by: on January 25, 2018

Why I studied for a Masters in Major Programme Management

Last week, I quietly update my LinkedIn profile, adding my newly-awarded MSc from Oxford. Looking at other posts, I see that was a very old-fashioned and low-profile approach. Rather than act out of character, let me explain why I studied for a Masters in Major Programme Management. Recruiters were turning me down for interesting work […]

Read more

Posted by: on November 3, 2016

A Life in the Day

As published in Kellogg College News Michaelmas 2016 I work from home in south-west London. Commuting on crowded Tube trains every day was sapping. Everything in my office has a purpose or means something to me, from the photographs of my parents and my children, to the books, journals and pictures. On the wall is my degree certificate from London, so […]

Read more

Posted by: on August 11, 2016

Promises made, promises broken – contracts in major programmes

Commenting on one of Bent Flyvbjerg‘s posts about making life as difficult as possible for the major programme manager, I suggested applying the fairy tale framework. This blog starts with a continuation of that idea. Contract law or managing contractual relationships? Be careful with your words. Think of the spoiled princess who promised all kinds of rewards […]

Read more

Posted by: on May 17, 2016

Module Four

Whatever your expectations of the MMPM programme, did they include Jesuit cash boxes, mediaeval churches, balloons as nuclear waste, the ambiguous nature of bottles of water and the question of evil? Including crises of spirituality in a textbook on management accounting and control systems was unexpected. Like Mary Poppins’ carpetbag, the quantity and variety of […]

Read more

Posted by: on February 15, 2016

Defining Success

Encouraged to apply what we learn to our practice, this blog takes a hard systems/soft systems approach to our February experience. Energy was somewhat sapped by mid-winter troughs for the northern hemisphere colleagues. Southern hemisphere colleagues found themselves transplanted to harsh winds and sharp frosts. That was our operating environment. Some of the course content […]

Read more

Posted by: on December 10, 2015

I enjoy myself almost the entire time in Oxford

Transformation is in the air as we move towards the end of the year. As we learn more about each other, we discover a number of us are in transition. Did we choose the programme because we already knew we wanted change or is the programme the catalyst? The programme’s message is uncompromising –  too […]

Read more