Month: October 2018

Let the transformative Cass Executive MBA journey begin!

I am on my way to the first day of induction for the Cass Executive MBA (“EMBA”) in Dubai at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). A bit early, I feel – but it’s better than being one second late.

While driving to the DIFC where the classes for the Cass EMBA are delivered, I think of some of my teachers and professors at school and university in Latvia. I guess they would not believe that I am going back to school again.

Having considered an EMBA for the past two years, I felt that the right moment to get myself out of my comfort zone has finally come. After exploring different programmes at various business schools around the world, my choice unsurprisingly fell on Cass Business School: it’s one of the world’s leading business schools with the longstanding reputation of excellence built on its academic heritage and impressive success stories of alumni.

And – luckily for me – the School has a presence in Dubai! It’s hard to believe that six months after attending a Cass networking event, I am officially a Cass EMBA student, rushing to my first day of induction.

Feeling like a curious child and adult at the same time, I am entering the Cass floor at the Academy. The room fills up quickly.

Having never been forced to go to school or university, today feels special to me: I strongly believe that one can close gaps in skills and professional experience efficiently with academic knowledge, especially if it’s gained through the programme like the world’s class EMBA. After the first personal interactions with other students, I conclude that I am not the only one in the room who thinks this way.

Diverse student cohort

The four days of induction passed in the blink of an eye, so will the following two years, we have been told.

Witnessing the remarkable spirit of enthusiasm among my cohort has been really heart-warming. I wonder again about the incredible times I live in: my cohort consists of 39 ambitious professionals from 16 different nationalities who all share a common goal, which is to achieve success. I really enjoyed getting to know each and every one of my classmates and finding out about their careers and what led them to Cass.

At induction, the Cass faculty went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. Each lecture felt like a magnet of an incredible strength that won our attention and drew great interest in no time.

Journey of self-discovery

Together with my peers, we spent a lot of time discussing the importance of teamwork and collaboration. While these are not foreign concepts to any of us in the cohort, we tend to underestimate and forget about them under the growing pressure of daily routine.

Knowing my strengths is great, but admitting my limitations takes me one step closer to the desired success. I believe that the EMBA at Cass will help me understand the correlation of complex business processes and develop strategic and analytical skills.

I am looking forward to the next visit of the Cass Careers and Professional Development team. Their professional advice will help me shape my long-term career goals, steering me towards the right path of my professional life.

After spending four incredible days at the induction, I now know exactly what I want to achieve at Cass! I want to be “a better version of myself”.

Let the transformative journey begin!

Executive MBA in Dubai (2020)

One month into the Cass Full-time MBA – my two cents!

Choosing Cass Business School over other schools was a well thought out and rational decision. But as most students would be, I was a little nervous and wondered if I had made the best decision.

One month into the Full-time programme and I knew I couldn’t have chosen a better school for my MBA. There are plenty of reasons. Not only are all my expectations being met, but I am sure I will gain much more than I hoped for.

Learning from a diverse cohort

As we began introductions on the first day, I realised that we have a truly international cohort. My classmates are from all over the globe and belong to varied professions. The spectrum spans from Michelin star chefs, entrepreneurs to finance professional, to name a few. London is definitely the melting pot of culture and so is Cass business school.

Meeting my classmate during induction

Geography is on our side

The School is at a geographically advantageous position and the staff at Cass makes sure that they utilise this aspect to curate the best opportunities for students. In the first four weeks, we have had over seven global company representatives visiting the campus to speak to us. The companies range from small businesses to corporate giants in fields ranging from artificial intelligence, fintech, investment management and investment banking.

This has been instrumental in stretching me intellectually and has compelled me to think of my unique and sustainable career path post-MBA.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much

The School’s ethos lies in instilling values of collaboration and team work between students. We work in teams to support each other in our journeys. This creates a highly positive environment for learning. But also brings out our very best leadership skills and helped us identify our personal leadership styles. It is fair to say that when we re- enter business, we shall be more equipped to lead teams and deliver results.

My team make for the simulated strategy exercise ‘The Great Cass Bake-off’

Dedicated staff

The Cass staff deserve a special mention. They know each one of us personally and it is their endeavour to work with us and help us achieve our goals.

Learning for life

As I slide into block one of the curriculum, I have observed that the School believes in a learning method which is engaging, draws from our experiences, adds value and an opportunity to reflect and internalise our learnings. We also have the opportunity to come back to our alma mater to learn new skills each year. This indeed is a highly attractive offer as it will help me update my skills every single year!

Cass has stood true to its words and beyond. I am surely being groomed both personally and professionally to be able to contribute significantly to the business environment. Also, we have a fair amount of outdoor activities and a thriving social life! Having a three day leadership training at the very prestigious UK Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, has been exciting.  Our cohort is thrilled to be part of these exciting experiences which the school offers!

At Cass, I am truly home 🙂

Full-time MBA (2019)

Chat to Tejasvini on Unibuddy to find out more.

The last hurdle before reaching the Cass MBA finishing line

 

The BMP, less known as the Business Mastery Project, is the final puzzle piece of our Cass Full-time MBA and simultaneously the biggest one.

What is the Business Mastery Project?

The name itself is puzzling. If you are wondering ‘What on earth is a BMP?’ let me make things clear for you. It’s our version of a dissertation or thesis.

So why can’t it just be called that?

The thing about the BMP is that apart from being worth 50 of your 230 credits and therefore clearly a defining part of your MBA experience, there are so many variations to it and no two BMPs are ever the same.

The BMP can be broadly divided into three types: a desk-study project that is closest to an academic research paper, a company-sponsored BMP that is set as an internship, or a business plan that may be used as a basis to kick-start your start-up.

If that’s not wide enough in scope, I heard one of my MBA classmates, Ross Kelly, who was researching on LP Fundraising for early stage Venture Capital firms, say “I think mine is a bit of all three.”

Our course director, Dr Paolo Aversa, told us that the BMP should be a work of passion, since for many of us, it might be one of the last opportunities to really dig our teeth into a project outside of work.

I took those words to heart and truly believe that this was the most important thought in my decision-making process.

Starting on a project idea

Throughout my MBA, I have learnt to flexibly apply concepts to a variety of situations. While many want to silo situations, as MBA students we learn to keep an open-mind.

Thinking about digitalisation and evolving business models have been constant topics throughout our MBA and it seemed perfect to link these to my area of interest: creative writing, the subject of my other master’s degree.

After several iterations talking to classmates from both my MBA and MA, I had managed to distil my thoughts into a BMP title: “The impact of digitalisation on the publishing industry: How is digitalisation changing the publishing industry’s revenue model for authors?” It was putting a business spin on a creative product.

I chose Dr Alessandro Giudici as my supervisor; he had co-authored a paper on digitalisation in the publishing industry. He helped me in the early stages with suggestions of academic research to start my literature review (I’d have fallen into all sorts of rabbit holes otherwise, like reading an 18-page research paper just on the definition of e-books).

Although I got to this point rather quickly, it took me months to tackle initiating it. Only once I had done some preliminary research, did I start to get a sense of where I was going with it.

It took a few back and forth discussions between myself and Alessandro to finalise the project. In the end, my BMP developed into a qualitative study with semi-structured interviews of recently published authors and a case study on the London-based alternative publisher Unbound.

Unlikeliest outcomes during my research

I had come across Unbound through one of my favourite books, “The Good Immigrant”, and was intrigued by their model. I was lucky that the London Writer’s Club–a newsletter I’m signed up to–was organising an event with one of their editors which allowed me to hear their thoughts.

After having secured the publisher’s side of the story, I wanted to interview authors who published with Unbound as well.

Following a few cold emails, the ones who replied were the unlikeliest candidates: Andrew Grumbridge and Vincent Raison, the two men behind the Deserter blog and podcast, “an aspirational lifestyle website for those with a predilection for doing f*** all.” (Their words, not mine!).

I had supported their crowdfunding campaign on Unbound and their book was now in the typesetting stage. Not only did they reply to me in detail and provided me with all that I needed for my case study but they ended up inviting me to join them for drinks at Brick Brewery in Peckham Rye to the opening of a free photo exhibition on the Dulwich Hamlet’s 2017/18 season.

So, despite neither liking beer nor football much (yes, I’m a complete failure as a German), I found myself exploring a brewpub in Peckham Rye to have a beer with some authors I cold emailed for my BMP.

And it’s become one of the best most memorable nights of this summer.

That’s possibly the most unexpected outcome of my BMP.

I used my network from my MA to find a few other authors willing to volunteer some time for this project. I was surprised at how forthcoming everyone was. They weren’t just being nice to me; my research resonated with them. It wasn’t a theoretical concept but a real-life issue that was at the heart of the writing profession.

In early August, I handed in my first draft and thought I was pretty much done. I was wrong.

Submitting my BMP

After a week of peace (burning up in the heat that was the 2018 European heatwave), I received the feedback. Alessandro’s comments were practical and to the point, guiding me in the right direction but leaving the interpretation and execution to me. After the second iteration, I knew my work was done. And thanks to a late-night open printing shop near my house, I got it printed and bounded, ready for submission on Aug 27th.

…and now we wait!

It’s been over a month now since I submitted my BMP and I don’t know the final outcome yet. But whatever it is, I rest secure in the knowledge that I’ve done something meaningful that will stay with me forever as a tangible outcome of my MBA.

Whenever anyone asks me about writing and the publishing industry, you will see a fire light up in my eyes. This is the fire that people want to see, the fire that makes you interesting to others.

My advice when choosing a BMP topic is to not get too caught up with having it directly relate to your job or expecting it to open doors for you. If it does, great! But if not, don’t worry, just make sure it’s something meaningful to you. The rest will follow.

Full-time MBA (2018)

Ready, set…GO! The Cass MBA commences

Two months ago, I had the scariest dream I have had in years. I had started the Cass Full-time MBA and it was time to pick groups for our first group assignment.  And like the infamous PE (or gym) class nightmare, I was the last to be picked.

I woke up shaking. Halloween had nothing on this dream. Happily, I can tell you that this dream did not come true!

In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

Learning how to learn

Here we are at the end of our first month and it’s been a pretty intense period.

For most of us, it has been five to ten years since we last stepped into a classroom. So even though we’re familiar with the rigours of work we’re a bit out of practice when it comes to lessons and homework.

To help with our learning, we had a session in our first week on how to speed read and how to improve our memory. For our studies, we worked on mind maps, linking each branch to the one before, adding quick pictures in to help.

We have been given lots of advice on how to economise our time over the coming year, so we can fit in lectures; networking events; careers research and preparation; and of course reading and assignments.

Some of this means a bit of multi-tasking and everyone has different ways of using their time as efficiently as possible. It is early days, so I am still trying things out to see what works best for me, but so far, the gym and the train have been definite winners.

When I grow up, I want to be a leader … and a follower

Another big focus has been teamwork. After brainstorming the differences between managers and leaders, between strong teams and weak, we were given a challenge to put what we had said into practice.

These are all the things we had listed as important qualities of effective teams:

  • Buying in to a common goal;
  • Mutual respect and trust;
  • Communication;
  • Listening;
  • Support;
  • And, if possible, fun!

Our challenge was hands on: building a construction out of newspaper, tape and six coffee cups. Never have so many adults been so eager and competitive to get a ping-pong ball from one corner of a table to the other as slowly as possible.

(I am happy to say we managed it in the slowest time of 9.59 seconds–well done team!)

Now we’re starting our first Strategy team projects, so it’s time to put these skills into practice!

Starting off with a bang

As part of our careers induction, we have done a lot of work on ourselves and our presentation skills. Much of it was about confidence, identifying our strengths and weaknesses and understanding the audience we are presenting to.

Of course, we had to resist the temptation during a presentation to look down at your notes for a prompt, just to remind yourself what your name is.

We were given the task to start the presentation and introduce ourselves with a bang – cue writer’s block!  There were a lot of nerves in the room, but once one of us had presented, then another, then another, it became clear that it wasn’t so scary.

It didn’t matter if we lost our train of thoughts, our groups would be supportive and the higher the fear hurdle, the louder the applause.

We are now a couple of weeks into block one and my nightmare from months ago never came true.

In its place are the friendliest cohort I could have hoped  to be working and studying with. We had a great barbecue and are enjoying getting to know each other.

We all know the coming year is going to be hard work, but we have been given every tool to achieve the best we can. Now it’s time to use them.

Rhiannon Ludlow
Full-time MBA (2019)

Chat with Rhiannon on Unibuddy to find out more about the course.

 

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