Those zigzag staircases

Those zigzag staircases

Rachit Kapoor (EMBA 2019) describes his fly-on-the-wall first time visiting Cambridge Judge Business School.

My first time visiting Cambridge Judge Business School was on a sunny Thursday afternoon. Entering the School’s grounds through a gate that reminded me of J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts (albeit slightly more modern), I was immediately struck by the architecture. The walk towards the Judge, which is opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum (housing works by geniuses like Rubens, Picasso and Van Gogh, and is itself an incredible piece of architecture) inspired intriguing thoughts and anticipation that something new and exciting is about to happen.

As light pours into the School through large cylindrical windows in the Old Addenbrooke’s building, I was immediately captivated by the zigzagging staircases all around me. They are reminiscent of a neural network, connecting classrooms and lecture theatres, students and faculty, and ideas. I was greeted warmly at the reception, admitting to the receptionist that, at this point, I was only considering applying to the Executive MBA programme. Thankfully, she was incredibly welcoming, and informed me I was free to explore the building. And thus my fly-on-the-wall self-guided tour of Cambridge Judge Business School began.

More on the architecture of Cambridge Judge Business School >

Staying within the Old Addenbrooke’s building, I made my way up two flights of zigzagging staircases (I have no idea how people navigate these!) to the Common Room café. This mezzanine-style area within the main atrium houses a bar for coffee and snacks and lots of seating to suit many kinds of coffee-fuelled activities. Deciding to press on, I headed back down and into the School’s newly opened (in 2018) Simon Sainsbury Centre.

Entering the comparatively austere Simon Sainsbury Centre atrium, I immediately ascended the (straightforward!) staircase behind the reception. I walked around the breakout spaces and past the numerous seminar rooms, trying my best to look confident and purposeful, and returned several times to an impressive café area. Downstairs are a couple of impressive lecture theatres (where the Executive MBA lectures take place) but the cafeteria was what interested me right now. It was bustling with people dressed in everything from full business attire to casuals and, as a card-carrying individual (alright, so the card just said ‘VISITOR’ at this point), I decided to enter. Those staircases had taken a lot out of me, so I descended ravenously on a well-priced meal. There was a protected intelligence to the conversations taking place around me; I was convinced for a minute I might have walked into a design meeting for the next iPhone model. You could “feel” the environment, I’d say. It’s a place where conversation takes place then action happens.

More on the Simon Sainsbury Centre >

Grateful for having had the opportunity to explore the School in my own time and at my own pace (including test-driving the lunch options – important!), I felt like the steps I’d taken around the building were steps in the right direction. I knew that I wanted to be a part of the School and walk those zigzag staircases with swagger in my step.

My experience at the Judge so far has been striking. Every month I sit down with 101 exceptionally skilled colleagues from 42 different nationalities and various professional backgrounds in this stimulating environment – you can’t replicate that experience any other way. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I would manage the rigors of the programme alongside my strenuous job. My classmates, however, have provided inspiration to push myself beyond comparison. One of my fellow participants is taking the programme having recently had an adorable baby daughter. She manages to balance her career, studies AND the demands of motherhood with zeal and capability. That’s the kind of driven individual this programme attracts!

Speaking of my colleagues, they are truly diverse. I’m working with and amongst financial strategists, masters of the media, an advisor to the UN, former international Rugby stars, an actor turned philanthropist, a guy that owns a company that makes better suits than Brooks Brothers. Less than five months into the programme, I find each day in Cambridge humbling. Taking time to digest the knowledge imparted by the exceptional faculty and lessons in the areas I’m being exposed to for the first time is a challenge I’m focusing on meeting with enthusiasm.

See the EMBA class of 2019 overview >

I still haven’t fully mapped out where all those zigzagging staircases take me, but during my time at Cambridge Judge Business School I will. The connection I now have to Cambridge, the University and the business school is for life and I intend to get the most from what’s behind every door. For me, coming to Cambridge has been an opportunity to renew my thinking about personal and professional topics, and letting my imagination run wild with the ideas that are constantly popping up.

And speaking of fresh ideas, it’s time I headed back into Management Praxis!

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