Ariel de Fauconberg is studying an MPhil in management research in innovation, strategy and organisation (ISO), based at the Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS). She chose Fitzwilliam College for its holistic view on student success and wellbeing, its international student body, and for the friendly and active social scene in the MCR.
How do you feel about the celebration of 40 years of women at Fitz?
I’m excited for it! Women’s access to equal educational rights, recognition, and inclusion in Cambridge University has been fraught with hardships. Considering that women weren’t even originally recognised as official members of the university, permitted to attend lectures on topics in the natural sciences until the early 1920s, or even granted degrees from the University itself until after 1948, it’s impressive how much progress towards inclusion has been made by 2019. I will be among the first to admit that it is concerning to reflect on only 40 years passing since women were first incorporated into college life as students at Fitz. Yet, it’s also heartening to see how quickly the pace of change has increased to welcome historically marginalised students beyond gender as well. As a postgraduate student, I’m gladdened to know that when I graduate I’ll be joining over four decades of prior female scholars from Fitz who are taking their Cambridge educations and experiences out into the world to (hopefully!) help shape it for the better.
What is it about Cambridge that attracts you?
For me, I came to Cambridge – and more specifically, CJBS – because of a cluster of qualitative management scholars who are doing work in my specific area of research interest. Unlike many other business school faculty around the world, this cluster is working together to develop leading research in areas of sustainability and innovation from a business angle to address what are called 'grand challenges': the most pressing and complex societal problems that are facing the world today. That this group of researchers was based here in Cambridge was an added bonus, as I knew from my past educational and professional experiences that I thrive in the unique type of academic work environment offered at Cambridge.
Pausing to reflect on what it is that's drawing you to Cambridge will allow you to consider if other schools out there might be a better fit, given your personal interests and life goals. However, if you do think that Cambridge will offer you what you’re looking for to grow as a scholar and as a person, don’t let any stereotype of what you might think a ‘typical’ Cambridge student is like stop you from reaching out to the admissions offices and student representatives here! I’ve found that the community at Fitz is hardworking, diverse, and very friendly. It’s well worth talking with Fitz outreach staff before applying to get a better feel for the College and see if it's the right place for you, rather than making any assumptions beforehand.
Has anything surprised you about Cambridge? Have you faced any challenges?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover the wide variety of plant-based food options on offer both in the Fitz buttery and around town. The activist community here in Cambridge is especially active in areas of sustainability, so I've also found there are numerous opportunities for buying locally-produced food in town.
In terms of challenges, during my first term here at Cambridge I was involved in a cycling accident that required me to be in a couple of soft casts for several weeks. While the injury itself was frustrating and forced me to slow my pace somewhat while I healed, I found that the fellows and staff at Fitz, as well as my colleagues and professors at CJBS, were wonderfully supportive. Despite the temporary limitations on my mobility I was still able to attend several conferences, meet with my research groups, and access all of the MCR events and dinners without trouble. I also now know where all of the elevators are located around Fitz and CJBS!
What else do you do apart from your subject in Cambridge?
Apart from my research, I’m also involved in the women’s rowing team here at Fitz. I was incredibly lucky to have landed in a great boat for my novice rowing term – NW1 – and so waking up early in the mornings to bike down to the river and row for two hours before my classes has turned into a great way for me to start my day.
I’m also involved in the photography community around the University. I enjoy the chance to explore my more creative side when I need to give my brain a rest from writing and reading.
Why did you choose Cambridge? What made you choose Fitzwilliam?
I chose Fitzwilliam College because of its reputation for three main things: having a holistic view on student success and wellbeing, its international student body, and for the friendly and active social scene in the MCR. Given the (fun!) intensity of the research we do at CJBS, I believe it’s important to balance the other parts of my life and the Fitz community offered that.
Additionally, I found I strongly supported the initial history and mission of Fitzwilliam in giving a Cambridge education to undergraduate students who would not have otherwise been able to afford access to the knowledge and resources here. I’m a firm believer in the need for diversity in education to strengthen how we innovate and advance the frontiers of knowledge, and being part of a college here at Cambridge that has incorporated that ethos into its core was important for me.