2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Mark Finch, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Mark Finch

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Age: 40

“I am a Tech Entrepreneur from New Zealand who loves innovation and technology.”

Hometown: I’m originally from Auckland, New Zealand but have been living in Oxford for nearly 5 years, which is now home.

Family Members: I have an amazing wife named Olivia and really cute dog called Pickles who is a beagle crossed with a King Charles Caviller (AKA Beaglier).

Fun fact about yourself: In a former life, I was a volunteer surf lifeguard and have saved probably over 200 lives over the 20 years that I was lifeguarding. In that, I was also a part of an elite lifeguard team that worked with the rescue helicopter, which meant that I would ride in the rescue helicopter and jump out of the helicopter into the surf to save people who were in serious danger.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I completed an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Auckland in 2006.

I completed a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Auckland, through the Auckland Bioengineering Institute in 2008.

Where are you currently working? I’m currently working at Vicon Motions Systems as the CTO.

Vicon Motion Systems is a company that specializes in motion capture technology and solutions. Their products and services are used in a wide range of applications, including entertainment, sports, biomechanics, engineering, and virtual reality.

Specifically, Vicon provides high-quality motion capture systems that use cameras and markers to capture the movement of people, animals, and objects. These systems are used to create realistic animations for movies, video games, and other visual media. They are also used in research to study human and animal movement and to develop new medical treatments and rehabilitation programs.

In addition to their motion capture systems, Vicon offers a range of software tools and services to help their customers capture, analyze, and interpret motion data. This includes tools for tracking and labeling motion capture data, creating custom motion capture workflows, and analyzing biomechanical data.

Overall, Vicon’s motion capture technology and solutions are designed to help their customers create realistic, high-quality animations and to advance research in a variety of fields related to human and animal movement.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • 2023 Awarded the Andrew Bagnall International MBA Full Scholarship through the University of Auckland, which fully covers the tuition fees for my EMBA degree at University of Oxford
  • 2019 Nominated as one of the University of Auckland’s 40 Under 40
  • 2013 Founded IMeasureU and built it up to exit within 5 years (founded, built team, ran the company, achieved successful fundraising, won grants and competitions, built product market fit, and completed a successful exit).
  • 2015 Semi-finalist for the New Zealander of the Year (innovation category)
  • 2014 Won a New Zealand Innovation award.
  • 2013 Winner of the University of Auckland $100k Spark Award (now known as the Velocity $100k Challenge)
  • 2010 Awarded a full Scholarship to attend Stanford University’s SIE (Summer Institute for Entrepreneurship) program.
  • 2010 Invited International Researcher at MIT
  • 1997 – 2018 Volunteer Surf Lifeguard, held leadership positions running teams that patrolled NZ’s most dangerous beaches

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? There are lots of achievements that I’m proud of, aside from all the friends I’ve made and horizons that have been expanded through teaching and my peers’ shared experiences. In the early stages of the degree, I organised a really fun day out for the group. I am an Oxford local and realized that no one had really gotten to know the real Oxford well, as they all fly in and fly out for lectures and are very centred around the business school. So, I took the initiative to organise a classic Sunday roast and a punt at the Cherwell Boat Club, a beautiful restaurant that sits on the Cherwell River and has punts (boats) that you can hire, which is a very Oxfordian activity. We all ate and drank and really got to know each other outside of the classroom, then all went punting afterwards and it was a really special day.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It would be my company, IMeasureU. The company turns 10 next week, which is incredible in itself. I built it up from scratch, and managed to build it up to an acquisition within five years. The company still sits in the business that I work for now, and my development team still sits under me in my department. It’s pretty cool to think that I’ve been able to employ people for 10 years, giving people amazing opportunities and see them grow over the years. My employee number 1 only just left the company after being with us for 9.5 years. I’m so proud of him and everyone else in my team who have made that journey so amazing.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Associate Professor Agni Orfanoudaki – I was so impressed by Agni. She has had such a successful career so far. She taught us about ML in technology operations management, which is right up my alley of expertise. I was really impressed with her depth of knowledge, but also her ability to articulate very complex theories to any level of understanding in machine learning. You know someone really knows their stuff when they can explain a very complex theory to someone who has never heard of the topic before. I’m excited to say that I’ve been taught by Agni because I think she’s going to do amazing things in her career.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Oxford is the best university in the world. The world class teaching and brand attracts the best and brightest, who are an amazing, diverse group of people that have experiences across all walks of life. This may include working in politics or the UN solving the world’s climate challenges, right across to coffee entrepreneurs who have built a best-in-class coffee brand. And it helps that it was down the road from my home!

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I used all my assignments to solve real problems I had at work, so nothing really went to waste in that respect. I’d say one of the biggest lessons were all the sessions we’ve had on leadership. I think having the academic grounding around all the different leadership models and change management really helped me navigate some challenging situations at work. I am in the process of scaling my department by almost double, which I was able to apply the tools and models we were taught directly to my problem. There is no silver bullet for these problems but having the academic grounding helped me and my team navigate the changes associated with scaling in a positive way.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I don’t think there is any one story that encapsulates the juggle, because the entire degree has been a massive juggling act! You feel as though you’re either neglecting work or neglecting your family, and basically just need to juggle who gets neglected less at different times. Because I live in Oxford, I tend to spend my mornings before lectures in meetings with my team. Then I sign out of work once lectures start, so I’m never not really available to my team if they need me. I also made an effort to always try and be home for dinner with my wife, which means I missed out on some of the socialising, but also some of the hangovers!

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Don’t wait, there’s never going to be the perfect time to do this. The longer you wait, the less time you have for it to impact your career as we’re all getting closer to retirement! Also, I can’t understate how incredible the experience is. You learn foundational tools to help you navigate the corporate world and you make amazing friends with a network that is a huge pool of new perspectives that will absolutely change the way you lead for the better.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Writing assignments and doing exams is hard… I mean, it is, but it’s not as hard or as stressful as you remember. These assignments and exams are all centred around what we do at work and it’s just applying the learnings to your real-world problems. So, although they are hard, and take time, they are worth it because they directly help you with your job.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not being able to say yes to everything. The challenge of balancing family, school, and work is challenging enough, and those opportunities that come up, but you just can’t justify the cost it will take on the family and work. For example, there was not being able to say yes to the Yale EMBA exchange. I would have loved to be able to say yes to all the opportunities that we’re presented with.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Roland Marcelin-Horne. Roland started WatchHouse coffee in London, I come from NZ and we are coffee fanatics, and can hand on heart say that his coffee is the best coffee I’ve managed to find in the UK.

He is a serial entrepreneur and is now basically a coffee baron in London. For example, we were in a random café in London the other day (not one of his). When we went to pay, the woman behind the counter said the coffee was on them and was basically fangirling over him, he had no idea who she was!

I’m so impressed with everything he does and would love to start a business with him one day.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? Being surrounded by other executives who have had similar experiences to me. I can’t understate how incredible the other people in the course are and being immersed with them has truly shaped me and my leadership style in a positive way. Wanting to do this to supplement my work. I’m in a role that I absolutely love and have been using the learnings from my EMBA in my everyday work day, which has been amazing.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Ultimately, when my family and I move back to New Zealand, I want to lead change on the problems that are facing our generation, such as climate and poverty. I want to be able make a big impact on these problems and I feel this degree is setting me up to be able to fulfil that.

What made Mark Finch such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Entrepreneurial in spirit, Mark champions change and creativity. He successfully grew his company, iMeasureU, from startup to acquisition within five years (now Vicon), and since then has held the roles of Director of Technology and Chief Technology Officer. As a student on the Executive MBA, Mark embodies our mission to build the problem-solving skills needed by business leaders in a dynamic workplace. He exemplifies the transformational nature of the programme, challenging himself to explore complex business issues and bring them to bear in the context of his organization. He embraces opportunities to apply conceptual and practical learning, gained from his coursework, lecturers and his peers, whilst simultaneously establishing strong relationships amongst his cohort.”

Helen Saward, Programme Director
Executive MBA
Saïd Business School, University of Oxford


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