Author: Claire Georgeson

Cass MBAs consulting in Colombia

There’s an old adage which goes something along the lines of ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’.

For the past year I’ve felt a little bit like said above. Drastic life changes, meeting new people, learning things which have little relevance to old Claire etc etc. It’s almost like undergrad, but on a different planet where everyone speaks using interpretive (and extremely cool) dance.

The International Consultancy Week was a chance to showcase everything we’ve learnt for the past year. As its name would suggest, it’s a week where we worked on a business strategy project within a diverse range of industries, designing solutions for business development issue.

It was essentially going to be a week of hell, with the addition of a small holiday on the back. In Colombia. In their winter.

The cohort were divided into groups which were pre-auctioned, and I managed to land the most awesome group consisting of Lizzy, Kylie, Dipen and Pascal. Our company were a ‘small’ coffee producing company called Cafetal De La Trinidad (CDLT), who were looking to access the international market post ‘Colombian crisis’. Previously, CDLT were one of the largest producers in Colombia, dating back to the early 1900s. After a hiatus, they were back in the market with their first harvest of high quality coffee due in August. Our duty was to offer advice and consultant them on the international market.

Anna and Alejandro have to be two of the most impressive, persistent and slightly mental people I have ever met. With over 400 hectares of land, the farm has an undeniable spread of lush landscape and potential. Their plan is simple; producing high quality coffee using the very best techniques. As an aside, do you know how much WORK it takes to create a simple cup of coffee?

Here are 10 steps for all us novices out there:

  • 1) Plant coffee tree/s in vast amounts.
  • 2) Pray for rain (or wait on a horse–and preferably not being eaten by said horse)
  • 3) Wait for two years (preferably here, in a comfortable hammock).
  • 4) Pick berries.
  • 5) Depulp in big machine.
  • 6) Do some technical stuff.
  • 7) Wait some more time whilst beans dry.
  • 8) Do some more technical stuff.
  • 9) Pray again (pose for pictures)
  • 10) Celebrate your first green bean harvest!

 

(There are quite a few more steps before, during and after this, but those are semantics)

Another thing no one actually tells you in business school is how incredibly hard it is stepping outside of your comfort zone. Everyone may have their own specialist remit, but when you’re trying to consult to people who have been in their industry for years – you have a large chance of getting caught out pretty quickly. Which is why it’s incredibly important that the clients you acquire have the graciousness to accept your views and thoughts. That shows business and human acumen.

And to pay homage to my fellow ICW’ers: here are a few shout outs that I must mention:

Laura – thank you for putting up with me #RoomieFromHeaven

Adam – Hope you saw a GP back in London.

Pascal – thank you for being my spirit animal.

Greg – #RunRussianHorsieRun.

Ola AKA David Bailey #ThankYou.

For everyone who came to ICW (and I’m sorry I didn’t mention you all – I ran out of word count) – thanks for being awesome; you really are and you really were all the best memories I have.

And for those of you who didn’t come, here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

  • Saturday: Long day...
  • Saturday: Long night...
  • Sunday: Started by praying for a good week...
  • Followed by a tour
  • You can take the man out of Malaysia...

 

Claire Georgeson
Executive MBA (2019)

 

Achieving’s one potential on the Cass MBA

As a kid, I was pretty spoilt. I grew up on the small island of Jersey with my grandparents who attempted to keep me sheltered from the harsh realities of the world and embedded the mantra that I could do absolutely anything I wanted too.

When I stood up at the age of seven during the annual ‘who I am and what I want to be’ school assembly and announced that when I was older I wanted to be an elephant, you can appreciate their stark but crucial realisation that perhaps telling their small and impressionable granddaughter that they can do absolutely anything (which equally includes changing species) was probably unwise. And that was the day seven year old Claire realised she was going to have some sort of desk / office job, thankyouverymuch.

Fast forward this 20 odd years and here I am with the same original mantra; I just now assume that I can do anything when it comes to business. Now please, don’t misunderstand the humility in which I write (as there isn’t any); but my ego is huge and I have more talk than the Bugatti Veyron. You can therefore imagine my excitement at the Achieving Your Potential weekend which Cass hosts every year in High Wycombe. Excellent, I said to myself, I’ll be the CEO of something by next week.

Enter the IPPQ, or more formally ‘the Science of Happiness at Work’. Their mantra is simple; happy people at work, maximum output and performance. Unhappy people at work equal… well… you get the drift.

Now this is a weird concept for me. My grandparents told me I could be anything – that I could DO anything. But they never mentioned happiness. Isn’t having the freedom to do anything you want equal to happiness?

Our coach Mark Nobbs was on hand to set the story straight. Before we arrived we were told to fill in a questionnaire which gave us a score out of 10 on how ‘happy’ we were in our jobs and lives. No one scored over 5. I didn’t even make it over 1! How had this happened?! How had we all been tricked into believing that having the job you always wanted meant you’d be happy?! What does being happy have to do with achieving your potential anyway?? WHAT WAS GOING ON!

It became obvious that this weekend was an exercise focused on challenging and changing the way in which employers enact and react with their employees. Using specially developed models and methods we assumed, concluded, revisited and re-enacted a whole multitude of processes which are there to enhance our life-work relationship.

The MBA is a tool which will hopefully excel you into being a manager or more senior person (if that’s the role in life you choose to make). Mark was there to help us be BRILLIANT managers in our BRILLIANT lives and jobs. My dismal score of 1 was still exactly what it was – but I left feeling that at least I could make some changes to MY happiness at work, because I have that power.

Happiness in the work place is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Happiness, being such a personal reaction to your surroundings, can so easily be misjudged and misconstrued. It’s also incredibly important to recognise that it’s possible to manage your happiness, or happy your happiness, if you so wish.

The remainder of the weekend was spent frolicking in the bar and using our negotiation skills to try and persuade the bar staff from closing at midnight. Another thing I have also learnt is to not even attempt to out-drink Lorraine. If you value both of your kidneys’ longevity and partnership then leave that challenge well alone.

My grandparents’ generation had little access to the science which Mark and his team have, which makes their belief in me even more endearing. We assume that our friends and family are all capable of makings decisions, and with those decisions comes the responsibility and the happiness which we all deserve. The IPPQ think we should all try and be responsible for each others happiness and enable ourselves with the clarity and the tools to do so.

Well done for Cass for being brave enough to support and mould the next generation of MBA students into well rounded CEOs and managers.

One thing became pretty clear from this weekend—if you’re happy you’ll most certainly achieve your potential, even if you’re still not an elephant.

Claire Georgeson
Executive MBA (2019)

My first five weeks at Cass

So, you’ve made the jump. You’ve signed up, paid your fees, cancelled all social engagements hence and whence appropriate, deleted Instagram and invested in a Microsoft based laptop (curse Apple and their pesky social functionality apps). You’re ready! Either by self- narcissism, or by a sociopathic employer, you have been accepted into a one year Full-time, or two year part-time Executive MBA to improve and enhance your life and management skills, and have entered into engagement with other like-minded, intelligent people. You clever person you!

Cass was established in 1966; it’s pretty safe to suggest that they have a lot of experience in education and how to get the best out of people. Unlike other London business schools’ (no pun intended), Cass encourages development by engaging heavily with your cohort, as well as self-enhancement. This means working with groups. Of people. Like you, but not quite you. Yes, I did just type that. You must consciously engage with other people in order to achieve a portion of marks based on group coursework, and equally, reserve enough brain power to listen, learn, and enjoy lectures.

With that in mind; below is a snapshot of my first five weeks, which I hope you enjoy with as much merriment as I did whilst typing:

Week one:

With great power comes great responsibility. With extensive learning after many years of being educationally unchallenged comes a great sense of acute awareness to be near the closest outlet of alcohol (it served one so well for so many years). Fortune would serve that the ‘local’ carries very reasonable prices, including a bottle of prosecco for £20 (with up to 4 glasses and an ice bucket).

Downside of the week: Three hours of post-lecture dissection (drinking) on an empty stomach leads to multiple walk-around(s) of the Barbican roundabout.

(Lack of signs = impossible to navigate without SAS training).

Moral of the story: One must not rely on the skills established during undergraduate learning in order to pass said MBA.

Week two:

Upside: The lecturer knows my name (and therefore I am a valued member of this school).

Downside: The lecturer knows my name (and will therefore call me out when drawing an escape plan on lecture notes).

Week three:

Cognitive functions seem to be awakening. The learning process element of your brain has finally sprung back to life, refreshed after a long period of siesta, and seems ready to expand and dilute masses of information, ready to be processed into more tangible details.

Downside: That post lecture pub visit, in which you ordered the £20 bottle of prosecco with one glass, drunk on an empty stomach, and then spent 4 hours marching around the Barbican roundabout, trying to work out which exit to take (they really should signpost or number them).

Week four:

The windows look pretty triple glazed and probably won’t act as a decent escape route.

Week five:

The end of your two First-year lectures. Things slowly seem to be coming together, including financial accounting, and equally a sense of feeling smug at being able to express, in detail, the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement (although the person at the bar didn’t really seem to care).

Downside:

The bar-lady knows your name and your pin code.

And we’re all still standing! And engaged, and very ready for a coursework review, submission, and onwards to the next assignment.

With all bravado follows humility, and mine very simply is that making this leap into Cass has been by far the best choice I have made in many years. One must consider the stresses and strains of the global economy and give praise to establishments that, even in such testing times, still retain the skills and strengths to envelop such commitment to people who want to learn. Cass employs an impressive collective of people who are at the top of their game; in fact, my first five weeks have been a sheer delight.

It is a true test of our freedom, democracy and fair sense of our need to improve which has, I do truly believe, led us to study at one of the best business schools in the world. For that, I commend you, you clever person you.

 

Claire Georgeson
Executive MBA (2019)

 

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