MBA Students Step Back in Time: A retreat to St. Michael’s Mount – By: Delfina Zagarzazu


Picture Credits: Chayaporn Kongcharoenkitkul

Conscious of time with deadlines fast approaching in the next few days, we departed Exeter at 7AM to spend a day away from the books. Away from Devon, we  stepped into Cornwall – a first for many international students who had yet to explore all of the Southwest treasures!

The day was co-designed by Hugh St. Aubyn and myself to allow the 30 person cohort a creative and inspiring visit to balance off the business theory from class. We placed colourful and inviting signs to find the emerging leader within each of us.

Don’t ask what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive

– Howard Thurman, Great Civil Rights Leader

The day promised to be filled with friends, nature, personal reflections and a beautiful historic castle to carry our minds away into imaginary stories and tales that made us step back in time – couldn’t have asked for more on a cold February morning halfway through Term 2 of our MBA.

The magic about St. Michael’s Mount is that you can only access it during low tide, something very rare in the 21st century of drones, planes and automobiles. The patience and timing for our visit set the pace for the day, as we removed our MBA ‘speedometers’ and tried to slow down to the pace of the tide to connect with the magic of the island and the castle.

Upon arrival we immersed ourselves in the Island’s history through a tour of the Castle & Gardens which took us back 1000 years to hear about the people and incidents which have shaped this incredible island through monks, generals, civil wars and more to get to what it is today. As a tourist destination it receives more than 300,000 visitors per year as well as being home to the beautiful St. Aubyn Family incredibly dedicated to the legacy of the castle for generations to come.

Our afternoon included a one-on-one conversation with James St. Aubyn, who is Lord St. Levan, about the challenges of climate change for the island and how it is responding to them. This was a topic very relevant to the OnePlanet MBA students looking to understand and work with businesses seeking resilience in confronting changing environments.

Sitting on the island, and watching an approaching storm, I can say I felt alive as Howard Thurman proposed. It was an incredible place to reflect upon the impacts of climate change and our fragility as a human race, being so openly exposed to the sea and hearing its strength over us. During this afternoon, sand boards were put up by the local villagers to protect their homes from the arriving storm. Watching the activity rush around us reminded me of the role we each must play in business to learn to be resilient and have dynamic business capabilities to respond to these challenges. Being creative and collaborative during such times is a fundamental aspect of resilience that must not be forgotten at the time of making decisions with such uncertainty as climate change brings us today.

I know my day at St. Michael’s Mount will always remind me to be present of this conversation wherever business may take me post-MBA. I hope to return many more times to enjoy its uniqueness and outstanding beauty. To me, it shall be symbolic of our fragility and humbleness towards nature, to learn to treat nature with more respect than we have as a human race, and to integrate into our daily lives the changes it demands of us to nurture a more sustainable future.

Delfina Zagarzazu

One Planet MBA Candidate 2017


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