Stacy Flowers receives post-graduate degree from Oxford

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stacy Flowers, formerly of Troy, received the Oxford Diploma in Strategy and Innovation from the University of Oxford. Her parents, James and Rhonda Flowers of Troy, attended her graduation ceremony in Oxford on June 30.


Troy native Stacy Flowers received the Oxford Diploma in Strategy and Innovation from the University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom on June 30.

Flowers, director of Community Economic Development, Community Action Partnership in Washington D.C., was one of 36 students from 20 countries around the globe who were selected for the prestigious post-graduate diploma program.

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The Oxford Diploma in Strategy and Innovation is designed to offer students the insight and understanding needed to lead organizations in a complex global business environment. The focus is on strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship in an international business context.

For the post-graduate diploma program, 200 applications were accepted. After an extensive interview process, 36 students were accepted into the program. Only six of those were women and Flowers was the only student from a non-profit organization.

“I didn’t really expect to be accepted,” Flowers said. “Among those accepted were CEOs of international corporations, government dignitaries and political dignitaries. It was such an honor to be among that group of students. They came from around the globe. I didn’t know if I could hold my own with them.”

Classes for the Oxford Diploma in Strategy and Innovation began in January 2011 and classes were held in the hallowed halls of Oxford. Flowers had to cross the ocean six times to attend weeklong, 12-hour a day classes.

“When I realized that I had been accepted, I knew that challenges would be enormous,” Flowers said. “Being in class for the first time was intimidating and I was determined that I would not say a word.”

But, that was not Stacy Flowers’ way. In a short time, she realized that she could contribute to the discussions and the debates.

“We interacted with the top Oxford professors and others from consultants to Parliament to knights,” she said. “It was very interesting work. We would talk about what was happening in different countries, for example Brazil and India, and what we saw coming down the line. There were many points to argue so you always had to stay on top of your game.”

At the close of each module, the students were given an exam in a very strict, rigid setting. Very much what you would expect at Oxford, Flowers said.

“We were bused to exams from Said Business School to the Examination School,” she said. “We would have to leave our belongings – including purse, cell phones, computers or any items – locked at the business school. The only items allowed were a pen or pencil, ID card and examination/student number. Otherwise, we were given a case study, two questions and two hours to write. In some cases, our proctors were in full robe screaming, ‘Silence.’ It never lacked for drama.”

The exams were blind graded by experts on the subject matter. There was no margin for error.

“If you did not make your marks, you were out of the program,” Flowers said. “The tests were not gimmies.”

Back home in Washington D.C., Flowers had to juggle work and preparations for the next class at Oxford.

“I had to study for the next exam and do the pre-readings for the next class,” she said. “A final research project was assigned and you had to do pre-work for your dissertation. Your final research project determined whether you received a diploma. It was difficult to balance a fulltime job in D.C. with being a student at Oxford. It was an incredible year and I could not breathe a sigh of relief until I received the final marks on the research paper.”

Even then, Flowers said she could not comprehend what it meant to earn a post-graduate diploma from the University of Oxford.

“When I put on that cap and gown, I was surprised and shocked to have gotten to that point,” Flowers said. “Truthfully, this opportunity was more than I had hoped or dreamed. I was able to work with internationally honored professors and business professionals that challenged me to change the way I approach decisions in business and life. It was an honor to be involved with such an incredible group of people.”

Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean of the Said Business School said that Oxford has been educating leaders for 800 years.

“This diploma and the students who take it are part of a distinguished tradition of excellence,” he said.

Flowers is a graduate of Charles Henderson High School. She received her undergraduate degree from Troy University and a MBA from Auburn University.

Her parents, James and Rhonda Flowers of Troy, attended the graduation ceremony in Oxford on June 30.

“It was a thrill to have my parents share this experience with me,” Flowers said. “This was an experience that I’ll never forget and one that will be of great benefit now and in the future. I am so thankful for this wonderful opportunity.”