Author: Umang Shankar

The First Step taken – End of Term 1 – Full Time MBA 2017

The first step taken, first step towards the next term, first step towards the careers, first step towards 2017 and first step towards life as we would know after the MBA.

Referencing (yes, now as academicians we are supposed to reference everything) back to something that we studied in Organisational Behaviour, about how people come together from a crowd to form groups and eventually teams. Prior to  5th September 2016, we only knew each other as digital profiles on Linkedin or Facebook, but after studying, being in the same lounge, having beers and practically living with each other we can say that we have grown into a big team.

The first step in the academic sense means Block 1 & 2 , each block has three subjects and somehow, subjects  are inter-related to each other. When you hear the same business case being discussed in three different lectures by three different lecturers, you start to fathom the research that has been gone into framing the course and coursework, and every bit of knowledge falls down as a big piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

In each block you are introduced to three completely different teaching styles, which complement each other and you get to meet lecturers from outright rock stars to great administrators, from mavericks of academia to wizards of analytics.

Plus, did I mention it all goes like the flash of light? Yes, because while lectures take 20% of college time, the remaining 80% is for assignments, course work and the super interesting integration week at the end of each block, well integration week is exactly what it sounds like.

That’s it for the studies part of this post, let me take you through the journey of the life of an MBA student. Beyond studies is the networking, internal, external, inter planetary, you name it we do it. If you are not a networking genius by the end of this term you are made into one, through a series of learning sessions, delivered by internal coaches and external consultants. Consultants that hand hold Board Members, CEO’s and Heads of States; yes they are very crafty and practical people.

If that was not enough, we were taken for a week-long Leadership Enhancement course at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The only business school in the world to do so. It was a special experience being in a new group and with new, non-academic challenges that push your creative boundaries and leadership capabilities. You get to know what are you made of and how you react to adverse situations.

Being at Cass gives you every bit of opportunity to stand out of the crowd, one such opportunity was the Tallow Chandler’s Cass MBA Challenge, it was an opportunity for the entire class to present a solution to a current Macro Economic situation with a Micro Economic outlook . While it gave us a great way to look into an industry which has been the bedrock of modern economy, at the same time, it also gave us the opportunity to showcase our presentation skills to senior executives from BP and Fosfa; my group came second in the challenge, a proud moment for each of us.

The end of Term 1 was intense, challenging & rewarding. (This style of oration is known as Power of 3 – again, from our external coach in presentation skills)

In the hope that Block 3 & 4 will bring many more challenges and rewarding experiences, I sign off today so that I can go forth for another networking meeting.

But before that, let me congratulate Cass for :-

  1. No.1 in One Year Full Time MBA in London – FT MBA Rankings 2017
  2. No.1 Globally in Corporate Strategy – FT MBA Rankings 2017
  3. Best value for money MBA Globally

And many congratulations for completing 50 Years since inception.

Yours Truly

Umang

City Starters Weekend – From an entrepreneur to a management consultant

From an Entrepreneur to a Management Consultant – A weekend journey.

City Starters Weekend – Oct 21st 2016

City Starters Weekend is exactly what it sounds like. Over a weekend, you bring an idea and if it gets selected you get to form your teams , work on the idea and pitch it on Sunday in front of judges. If you get selected, you get a prize and the pride to carry on with an idea.

It’s the best environment for people who want to become an entrepreneur, and for people whom this start-up thing seems cool. But as a part of larger cohort in City University, you get a far better environment than other open Starter Weekends. You are in your City Family and it’s a safer environment to experiment and work on your business model, approach and presentation skills.

So that part was for promoting the event, now you have to give it to the staff who work really hard for the event (special mention for our Professor Aurore Hochard). So now, since I have ensured my good marks, lets get into the story.

I came up with an idea of digital integration in auto-mobiles to make them safer, don’t read on if you think I will share my ‘actual’ idea with you guys, as Thor would say “you’re not worth it” YET.

WOOLAND TEAM

WOOLAND TEAM

I pitched and did not get selected, although people said that my pitch was good, but who cares about cars any more. The room was full of millennials and they have a very different set of priorities. Hence, to ease of a bit of disappointment, I went to the nearest pub with a friend of mine. Whilst still under healing my pride, this guy with unusual hair came up to me and said, ‘Would you work for me over the weekend and try to develop my business model’ (his idea was selected).

I didn’t need to hear the idea and just said ‘YES’. I generally do say yes to people and not products. Well I reached day 2, and there was only this guy working there. I felt a bit sad for him as others  who had said yes  to helping him, never showed up. I thought the guy seems okay, let’s have a go at it. His idea was called WOOLAND,  I am not sharing this idea either.

WOOLAND

WOOLAND

What I will tell you, however, is the back-story. WOOLAND is a brainchild of Eduardo, he is an MSc Student at Cass and is an exceptional musician. He started showing me his idea and he had already pretty much worked it through. But as a businessman I kept on asking more questions,  such as where does the money come from (although only to myself). And then started the journey of a management consultant – Mr. Umang Shankar, at your service Sir.

We went over the business model, over and over again, trying to make a bit of sense from the whole thing, no offence but Eduardo is a musician and artists are the beacons of civilizations, these guys show the way and we count the stones. Both are needed and both need to be respected. By lunch time another very decent bloke with awesome PPT skills; David, my classmate Dan, and Eduardo’s classmate, Alice joined in. And suddenly we have an Idea, an eccentric CEO , a team and the model that can make money.

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Come the final pitch day, that is generally Sunday, because if you guys don’t know it yet, it’s the day when the weekend generally ends, we had to decide who pitches what. As you always do in group presentations, you divide the part to show the group cohesion and to let everyone take part. We practised and it just didn’t work. I was not having any of it, and said, rather bluntly ‘It’s your idea we’ve worked for and I believe it’s you who should go ahead and pitch it’. In all these pitch contests we need to keep in mind the benchmarks, all big product launches such as Apple do not happen with 5 people talking about their departments, there is only one guy with specs, talking about the product. Well we did it and result was, a prize was invented for us, the best pitch presentation….

Learning :- Do whatever you are good at and don’t shy away from making tough decisions.

Please have a look at the entire event’s video :-

Umang Shankar

Full-time MBA (2017)

The Shaman who turned around Ducati, comes to Cass

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Mr Federico Minoli (left) Dr Paolo Aversa (middle) Umang Shankar (me on the right)

When you retire you would want to have enough money, a house, a nice car or probably kids; but very few will have the luxury of leaving a legacy behind them. Yes some people are either lucky to be in that place in that time, or they were just an out right maverick with their work. We were honoured enough to meet such a person in our last Strategy module who through his work turned around a legacy company to world dominance in its segment.

The person I am talking about is none other than Mr Federico Minoli, Mr.Turnaround, Mr I will get the company out of the deep hole, Mr who brought Ducati back from the crisis and Mr who inspired Siddharth Lal to restructure Royal Enfield to become one of the leading brands in 400-600CC motorcycle market, worldwide.

Growing up in a motorcycle environment, I would never have imagined that I would meet this man, let alone to be standing next to him and getting my photo clicked. It was all good work from our professor who through his work and his experience knew him well and arranged a guest lecture from him.

It was insightful and entertaining, something that is very rare with business people and because he was both I like to refer him as … Shaman (it’s not something I invented, he termed himself as a shaman and gave the entire back story as well).

FedericoMinoli with CASS FTMBA 2016 batch

Mr Federico Minoli with Cass FT MBA Class of 2016

Well for the ones who think I will be giving away his entire lecture, you are out of luck, you need to join the Cass Full Time MBA program and beg Dr Aversa (our professor) to get Mr Federico back on the panel. You don’t get free lunches you see. However, I will not just yap around the topic, I will give you a broad outline of his talk.

Well in the 1990’s, 1996 to be precise Ducati was bought over by an investor and Mr Minoli was hired as the head of that project, he talked about sticking it to the brand and the brand ambassadors first – hence came the Ducati Museum. It is worth saying that they treat customers like gods, but interestingly enough not many brands  reply to customers let alone making them ambassadors. Harley did that and we know that this brand does not need any ambassadors, anyone riding a Harley automatically becomes the marketing manager of the brand, such is the close knit community of the brand.

Next he spoke about innovation, it is imperative to be liquid in finances and liquid in head. Your dynamic strategy can develop an advantage that can take care of any disruption. But as a head of the company you need each and every employee to participate in the thinking. Because, wait for it… this is what happened in Ducati, the MH900E sale on 31st December 1999 and was an idea from someone in middle management and it became a case study in itself.

We have all worked in teams, worked under bosses but when you become one, he says – be dynamic, be bold, be the brand, love it, cherish it and love the people associated with it because at the end the day, humans and only humans will take your brand to legendary level and you my friend will end up with a better car, much more money, and yes, a legacy; kids? Well not for me.

Umang Shankar

Full-time MBA 2017

AND IT STARTED- THE MBA

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It was probably the 9th day in when we all received a mail by our course officer and it said “You have already received your textbook. If you look through the course outline on the online page, you will see the required reading for each class.” Nobody realised what that single mail meant.

This moment meant the start of “it”, it what we all knew but had kept it in the background till now, “it” the one we are here for and “it” the one which will take us on to our paths from here on.

College will not be the same from here on, 4:48 PM 13th September 2016 marked the moment where we were supposed to stop partying and start studying.

But again as we are and have evolved from the quadrupeds, to homo-erectus to now homo-sapiens, we procrastinated and left it for future.

But our course officer had one great quality in him – PERSISTENCE- he sent another mail about a book and an assignment, frowns were seen all across the class and people were flocking the course office to get the book, probably like young school children getting excited on buying new books at the start of an academic career. But as all young school children that excitement lasted 2 more mails with books that went thicker with each assignment.

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We literate, specialists in our respective fields were a bit taken aback with how quick this moment arrived and how we just switched from gathering in the local pub to booking study rooms.

What is most astonishing is the accessibility to faculty and staff. Our class was invited to the welcome night hosted by the MBA faculty and MBA staff, which happened to be on the date of my birthday 10th September 2016. It was an environment where we were meeting our professors, careers counsellors and marketing managers. With whom we will be working for next year. It creates an environment where the college becomes your home and people there… family members.

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MBA Schools or B Schools as we say, will not give you theories on theories on theories, they will give you real-life lessons that will shape your thinking , behaviour and above all, make you a better human prepared to face new challenges and goals.

This has been the summary of our first fortnight at Cass and it has been enriching to say the least.

Keep reading this space as we keep discovering our deep abyss.

Regards

Umang

FTMBA 2017

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