Category: Executive MBA (page 2 of 4)

You will NEVER think the same way again

‘Tis the season of winter warmers, twinkly lights and Strategic Leadership on Cass Business School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) programme.

As I sat in a coffee shop, sipping my Choca-mocha-glitter latte ― the trendy hot drink this season ― with my fluorescent highlighter to hand, I began to read the case study for my next class with Professor Novelli.

The cold Cola war

Reflecting on last week’s case study, there was more to the Pepsi and Coca Cola war than I’d first thought.  The analysis, the controversies – it  astounded my brain cells! Most importantly, it undermined my conviction that there was a difference in taste between the two drinks – a bubble-bursting moment! Oh, how I was learning new things at every moment on this EMBA!

As my mince pie was served, I pondered what had compelled me to spend nearly £10 on a fancy-pants latte and mince pie. Was it the experience of sitting in a cosy chair, of having a place to read? The quick customer service? Or the brand?

As I continued sipping away at this costly warmth, I noticed this coffee shop had a new layout. The counter was now split into two sections. Now there was a Click-and-Collect service for coffee― how millennial! I was reminded of Dr. Kocabasoglu-Hillmer’s Operations Management class. Responding to consumer trends is key to business and this coffee shop had clearly adapted to changing market trends. Customers no longer tolerate waiting in long queues, so now they just download an app, place their orders, pay online, walk in and collect: ingenious!

I was intrigued, also, by how they forecast their inventory. They were selling many Christmas delights, so what effect did these new additions have on the supply chain? How did they source their coffee beans? Was the company sustainable for the next 10 years? What was their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies? All these questions were buzzing around, so I Googled whilst munching the mince pie.

Later, as Michael Bublé greatest hits came to an end, I took my final sip and concluded my reading of the case study. I prepared to go to class, looking forward to seeing my cohort.

Coolest cohort

At present, we are forming friendships, enjoy debating in class, and the plurality of characters and characters and backgrounds is stimulating. Everyone has their own idiosyncrasies: whether it’s the chocolate rice cake connoisseur, the skateboarding CEO, the passionate Greek or the cyclists with their love of sushi and pension funds. We learn from each other’s interests, heritage and worldviews. An MBA is not easy; sometimes you can feel overwhelmed. But with mutual support and such a wealth of viewpoints, hardly any challenge feels truly insurmountable.

In Professor Novelli’s class, as I waited for my lecture to begin, I reflected that a few months into the MBA. It was evident that my studies were already paying-off. After taking my place in that coffee shop, I realised that my entire outlook on the world had now changed.

Nushma Malik
Executive MBA (2020)

Going beyond theory: Putting my Cass MBA into practice

A trip to the library is a very good way to learn different theories about one field. On an MBA, this is magnified as myriad fields are studied in a very short span of time. In the blink of an eye, you have finished three modules and you have a new set of tools at your disposal.

The bad thing about theory? It is quickly forgotten if it’s not put into practice immediately. That’s why you should make any reasonable effort (and more) to apply the theory you learnt to your day-to-day work. It will not only reinforce the concepts you’ve learnt, it will help you deepen your knowledge in the areas you are interested in and provide immediate returns in your career.

A good way to exercise this is to identify existing problems in your work and apply what you’ve learnt to solve them, or at least to flag the problems and propose a course of action. This proactive approach is always welcomed from companies (and most welcome if you work for yourself) as it shows your willingness to take the lead in improving the area you are effecting.

Managing change

At work, I am experiencing first-hand a transformation process of an R&D-focused, fast-paced startup becoming a commercially ready engineering company capable of fulfilling moderate to big orders from utilities.

Before starting the MBA, this process might have looked scary to me, but I now understand what I should look for during this transition, how to anticipate foreseeable problems and be prepared to step in when required.

Applying the concepts learnt in Organisational Behaviour and Operational Management, I can help the company in its course to establish a robust supply chain to process the customers’ orders and shape the organisational culture moving forward.

Establishing the supply chain proved to be an easier process in the sense that it is driven by qualitative comparison of different partners, although establishing the criteria to be applied is key for a swift, overall process. Understanding concepts like reducing waste in the processes, establishing a Corporate Social Responsibility framework and Just-In-Time manufacturing helped us approach this task with a very clear idea of what the outcome should be and be confident in the result that will be obtain.

Overcoming resistance

Created as an engineering startup, the recruitment efforts (so far) had been focused on boarding people capable of working with minimal supervision, with a high degree of creativity and flexibility to react to changes in the environment.

Transitioning into a fully-fledged engineering company able to serve orders of thousands of units to utilities in a highly-regulated market presents several problems apart from the mere logistics and certifications. Typically people that thrive in an R&D setup are not equally fitted to working to tight-deadlines, deterministic, streamlined mode that is normally required to fulfil medium volume orders.

The transition period is the most delicate. Hiring enough personnel to create a completely new division to handle the operations – while the original team remain focused on R&D – is not really an option until the orders are received and cash flows generated.

Keeping balance

This limitation forces us to divert the existent resources into these new tasks, which are more tedious, and the current workforce feels less motivated to work on them. Balancing these tasks and R&D activities is important so as to keep morale high while attaining targets. In the longer term, there will be hires to carry out the bulk of the delivery and support activities, but for the next few months we will be busy keeping the current staff able and willing to perform these tasks.

Organisational Behaviour is a major enabler to understand the psychology and team dynamics. It doesn’t provide you with a universal recipe to handle all (or any) situations; rather, it opens your mind to better analyse each situation and know what the different theories say about them and what the pitfalls are, so you can be prepared to react if something doesn’t work as you expected. It did make a huge difference for me when I had to face these issues.

Alberto Perez Sanchez
Executive MBA (2020)

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)

 

Why I went back to school (and chose the Cass MBA)

My long-term professional goal is to become the CEO of a large financial institution. For that reason, I spent some time researching common traits leaders possess that have climbed up the corporate ladder.

I found that they are all driven, hardworking people that have persevered throughout adversity but the commonality that truly stood out, is that at some point of their lives they all made a decision that transformed the course of their careers.

I knew that I shared these traits with them; however, I was yet to take that life-changing step that would put me on track to fulfil my ambitions. Doing an Executive MBA was that next life-changing step to take, so here I am, on track and ready to squeeze every opportunity on my way up.

My journey before Cass

My name is Natalia Lopez and my dream has not always been to score that top job in the banking industry. In fact, I left school in Spain without qualifications and, having landed in the UK without speaking a word of English, the minimum wage was the first thing that I learnt in this country.

Today I am part of the FX trade technology team at a global custodian bank in Canary Wharf. Given a set of requirements, I configure clients to trade FX products across a number of platforms, carry out test trades and ensure the system architecture is correctly set up to allow the flows.

So, you might be wondering how did I end up having such a cool job in an expanding industry and, more importantly; why is it that I would like to become a CEO? I will reveal all in the next post.

Having obtained an Economics degree from City, University of London, and mentoring for the University, I have worked closely with Cass Business School students for three years. This meant I have been aware of the School’s great reputation for a long time; therefore, I decided to attend MBA related events to explore their programmes (on a side note, this is something I highly recommend if you are thinking of applying for a programme).

First day jitters

I have to be honest though, even after accepting my offer I still felt a bit nervous when I was on my way to the recruitment events. But after five minutes of interacting with the incredible bunch of people that makes up my cohort, I was certain I was in the right place. Have you ever had that feeling? It is great.

During the first week, we were allocated into teams that we would be doing projects with. Sally, Saj, Gemma, Ahmed, Mike, Guillaume and I are Team Cook. We come from different backgrounds which is perfect as each one of us brings something different to the table. We have only been working together for a few weeks but I already know we are going to smash it through the next teaching block.

That is us having a great time at the welcome dinner. I am on the second right 😊

The day after the welcome dinner, we had a masterclass on mind mapping and speed reading. I took this as a hint of the workload we will be given! In only a couple of weeks I have already attended a two-day workshop on presentation skills and another on executive presence (to be continued), both of an excellent quality. So far, I have signed up for Insights into Leadership and the Executive Media workshops, which I am looking forward to it!

I wonder how I will feel when I read back to this blog in two years’ time. At the moment, all I know is that it is going to be a very exciting time in my life and I am going to enjoy every moment of it.

Executive MBA (2020)

OMG it’s been over two months since I started my Executive MBA

OMG it’s been over two month already…

The week long Executive MBA induction started off with having our photos taken, doing workshops that introduced and taught us a great many tips on how to survive the upcoming year, sitting in on an executive presence workshop, nicely rounded off with an induction dinner at the impressive Bleeding Heart restaurant. Oh and let’s not forget Sunday morning’s workshop on mind-mapping.

It was already the start of week two and I needed sleep, a week’s worth of laundry was waiting and I needed a hot dinner that was not a Pret A Manger sandwich.

Here I was thinking I was only committing my part-time MBA to two days a week, but it felt far more than that. A realisation hit me; this was the lifestyle change I had heard about, one that I had expected but wasn’t quite prepared for.

Organisation is key!

Week two started off with our Organisational Behaviour module, taught by Queens Park Ranger supporter Professor Cliff Oswick. The dynamic and captivating Professor brought to life the human and competitive nature of teams and the likelihood of dating Leornado Dicaprio via Vroom’s expectancy theory.

On week three we had our Accountancy and Finance lecture, and for the accountants amongst the cohort, it definitely seemed like telling them to ‘suck eggs’. But for the majority, it was the stretch that they had warned us about; this one was the down dog you would do in yoga – rather painful at first but you knew it had its benefits.

By week four my cohort was beginning to look like one big happy family – hanging out at the coffee station during the 20 minute break where the canteen offered hot dinners. But it wasn’t all frivolous chatter; we already had coursework on the horizon.

One thing for sure is, while working your day job and doing the Executive MBA, you are definitely challenged in a way you never would have thought. It’s one of those challenges you want to overcome with a big smile on your face.

Why I hear you ask? Because you eagerly want to learn from one of the UK’s best business schools that will nourish you and equip you with a skill set needed to reach your goals. You are among a diverse range of people selected from different fields and walks of life, all coming together like a fruit salad. Individual, colourful and some fruitier than others – but that’s what’s so wonderful about the Executive MBA.

Nushma Malik
Executive MBA (2020)

What to expect on your first month of the Cass Executive MBA

 

This September it really was back to school.  A new satchel, calculator and some weighty textbooks proved useful accessories to distract from the natural apprehension of meeting new classmates. A round of 60 second introductions only whet my appetite to find out more about my forty-five or so fellow passengers on this much-anticipated journey.

Time is tightly scheduled from the beginning on the Cass Executive MBA (EMBA). The whole induction journey has been well choreographed.  It is no accident that a personal development workshop and Organisational Behaviour module are timetabled upfront to ensure study groups bond quickly.

The first professional development workshop built on a pre-course question to identify our strengths. Strengths are defined as the underlying qualities that energise us, and that we either excel at, or have the potential to excel.

These strengths may overlap with technical skills, but also recognise that you may not always thrive on your technical competencies. You may have the capacity to be detail orientated, though it could be nurturing external relationships that puts the spring in your step.

Awareness of our strengths helps to manage performance and helps team-mates spot warning signs of strengths tipping into overdrive. For example, an overwhelming focus on future scenarios and a strategic perspective could mean current realities are overlooked.  Sharing this snapshot with our new study buddies was an effective ice breaker!

The lectures that followed on team dynamics, motivation and leadership provided a rich theoretical framework to reflect on our respective team roles. Belbin’s theory describes nine team roles clustered under three headings: action; social or thinking roles.

Overlaying our Belbin scores onto Strengthscope scores and patterns started to form; a Monitor-Evaluator carefully noting scores in the Excel spreadsheet; a Shaper encouraging those who had missed a session to find out their scores; a Plant seeing the patterns between the two reports; and an early warning that we are short on Completer-Finishers!  Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, the popular personality test completed the trio of ‘type’ tests.

Early on we were invited to suggest a collective noun for a group of MBA students. The winning entry was a ‘muscle of MBAs’.  It is already evident embarking on the Cass EMBA is going to require a lot of heavy lifting in terms of textbooks, time and commitment.

It is clear the motivation for many is not the extrinsic reward (Herzberg’s theory of motivation) of a higher salary or corporate sponsorship but intrinsic drivers of personal growth and accomplishment. The textbook example of intrinsic reward is a mountaineer which is fitting as we have heard how Cass aims to cultivate an explorer’s mindset: there is even a Cass MBA Expeditionary Society.

Our cohort reflects a spirit of enquiry and respectful challenge. Executive presence sessions working in small groups and one-to-one provided immediate feedback on how I show up. It also provoked early reflections on what leadership looks like, and could look like for me.

When people ask me why I wanted to do an MBA, I explain it is to kick start my career after working part-time while my daughters were young. It is also an opportunity to brush up on technical skills; Accounting and Financial Reporting is underway. More than that, embracing the spirit of adventure and trusting in the process – I am ready to explore how I can reach my best potential.

The alchemy – in the truest sense of the word – has already begun.

Executive MBA (2020)

 

Driving social impact with a Cass MBA– here’s to embracing the ‘unconventional’

‘Don’t be intimidated by conventional ideas.’

Those were the words of our Course Director at our Cass Business School Executive MBA induction dinner.

There’s one conventional idea that I’ve found particularly hard to swallow: the primary purpose of business is to make profit.

Sometimes this narrative is explicit and direct, and sometimes it’s more subtle or nuanced. But it’s lurking. So it’s promising to see Cass starting to take steps to bring it into the limelight for some critical reflection.

Of course profit is essential for business sustainability. Businesses require capital to grow. Raising capital requires investors and investors require returns. That puts investors (and the profit needed to deliver the required rate of return) in the driving seat.  So yes, profit is essential for business sustainability. But profit no matter what?

The problem is not profit per se. The problem is profit as an end in itself, and the bigger problem is the pursuit of profit with disregard for the impact it has in reinforcing our social challenges and systems of inequality (or ‘negative externalities’ in economic terms).

The issue is how profit is made and how profit is used.

I’m not talking about isolated instances of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ‘ethical duties’, greenwashing or developing morally conscious branding campaigns to appeal to millennials (while in the background the fundamental nature of the core business continues to have negative impacts on society). I’m not talking about being pressured to respond to a heightened awareness in popular culture of environmental and social issues in order to attract staff and customers (and therefore make more profit). I’m talking about building social purpose into the heart of business: elevating social goals to a strategic level, from ‘bolt on’ to ‘built in’.

This is of course already reflected in an array of existing business models in the ‘fourth sector’ like social enterprises, benefit corporations, community businesses, cooperatives and models of community ownership, which are growing in the UK and around the world. These alternative structures are part of the vision of a ‘social economy’, and there are forms of both debt and equity finance cropping up to support them, like social investment and community shares.

The problem is, these alternative models upset the neoliberal, capitalist apple cart that our current economic system is based on.

As our economics textbook put it: the ‘clear risk’ in governments becoming shareholders of banks following the financial crisis is that they could direct banks to prioritise social objectives over commercial ones. How outrageous!

Critical theory would have us ask: why are things the way they are, and whose interest does that serve?

Traditionally the corporate sector is paid enormous executive salaries and bonuses to deliver profits to shareholders, which works as a beautiful self-reinforcing cycle allowing the wealthy at the top to become wealthier.

Meanwhile, 14.3 million people live in poverty* in this country– that’s 22 per cent or one in five.

One. In. Five.

Sixty per cent of those people are in in-work poverty (they remain in poverty even while working). Is it just me that finds that profoundly shocking and completely unacceptable? Never mind the housing crisis, the environmental crisis … this list goes on. These aren’t faceless ‘negative externalities’. They are real people. Real lives.

Most people start with government and the welfare system as the solution to social challenges, but while there are many opportunities for change in Westminster, the government only controls around 40 per cent of GDP. The rest is in the hands of business, and it’s our interactions with business that dominate our day to day experience.

There are positive signs of a shift in conventional thinking. Blackrock’s recent letter called ‘A Sense of Purpose’ said that ‘companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including the communities in which they operate’. In a similar vein, Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey showed that businesses are no longer measured solely on their financial performance but on the support they give to the communities in which they operate and their impact on society as a whole.

There is indeed much businesses can do to realign spending priorities away from bonuses and dividends to shareholders already firmly within the 1 per cent. For example they could: increase wages for their lowest paid staff, reduce prices so more people can afford their services, offer apprenticeships, cap the wages and bonuses of executives, procure from social businesses in supply chains, abolish zero hour contracts, and create affordable childcare for working parents.

Of course none of those suggestions come without complex trade-offs, but many of these options can generate a win-win. Take Michael Porter’s concept of shared value, where, for example, supporting marginalised communities to produce coffee beans on fair wages generates a sustainable and affordable supply chain for a coffee company while lifting a whole community out of poverty.

Two of my classmates recently asked me for ideas on how they could support charities, specifically disadvantaged children, and it got me thinking about we can do at Cass as students and faculty.

One of the reasons I applied for the MBA was to bring the principles of good business into the third sector and share them with the network of 600 community businesses we support at Locality.

Because the third sector has an unfortunate ‘conventional idea’ of its own – that business is greedy, uncaring and often corrupt. I’ve heard many a snide comment about ‘people in suits’, some of which were very justified and others which were simply a regurgitation of an accepted narrative without reflection. There is work to do to change the perception of business from a self-interested vehicle for free market capitalism to an agent for change.

But importantly, the education process can also work in reverse. We need to bring the social principles from the third sector into the world of business.

Because there are indeed things that business can learn from the third sector. Doing good and doing business can in fact be intrinsically interlinked. It doesn’t have to be either/or, it can be both/and.

What would happen if we removed the separation between ‘business’ and ‘not-for-profit’ and explored the grey space in between? As the Director of the Community Shares Company said: ‘the economy is not simply made up of charities and hard-nosed capitalists’.

The ‘social sector’ doesn’t have to exist in some kind of parallel universe far away from the world of business with the only bridge being CSR initiatives. CSR (done genuinely and well) is great, but there’s no net benefit in a business giving a cash hand-out to a food bank when it doesn’t pay its staff the London Living Wage; or a bunch of corporate volunteers from a bank going to paint a fence when the interest rates they’re charging on the charity’s loan means the charity can’t afford to hire a painter; or a confectionery company that sponsors a children’s charity when it’s core products increase childhood obesity.

In fact, this only reinforces and embeds the structural causes of our social challenges. It also keeps the third sector small – Dan Pallotta’s Ted Talk sums this up well.

The business models that foreground social impact need to be discussed and explored not just in third sector echo chambers, but in business schools. Not only to create new start-ups, but to adapt and transform current business models to build in genuine social purpose and explore what responsible business looks like in practice – to improve people’s lives and make profit.

(Needless to say I was thrilled to see a whole lecture dedicated to social business in our corporate strategy module!)

As MBA students, we can ask why things are the way they are, what can be changed, and how this can be done.

Rather than abdicating responsibility for business’ contribution to social challenges Milton Freedman style, or seeing the solution as a hand-out to charity, we can look inside our businesses to create more fundamental change.

We can challenge the conventional idea that profit is an end in itself. We can grapple with the complexities of realigning business models to include social outcomes. Then we can get to work in changing our own organisations to start giving business a genuinely deserved reputation as an agent for positive change.

Cheers to that!

*Living in poverty is defined as having ‘relative low income’, that is, people living in households with income below 60 per cent of the median in that year, after housing costs.

Tara Anderson
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)

Adventure of a lifetime

“President, I have the honour to present for the award of an Executive Masters in Business Administration… … Dominic Graham” my name was read out as I ascended the stage to in turn shake the hands of the Lord Mayor of London, the Dean of Cass Business School, and collect the certificate of my graduation as an Executive MBA.

While a climb of a mere five steps, it evoked the summiting of Everest. Doing so in the company of my cohort, and witnessed by family, friends, and fellow graduates from City, University of London, made it all the more momentous, and a fitting recognition of a significant milestone.

Nearly three years since I began my MBA journey, and what an adventure it’s been: travelling as far afield as Chile, China, Dubai, and Las Vegas; learning about everything from accounting, analytics and HR, through to corporate strategy and M&A from some of the world’s leading experts in their fields. Not to mention my MBA colleagues with whom I’ve worked to deliver innovative and exciting coursework assignments including designing a casino for Las Vegas Strip (it was Formula 1 themed), and redesigning operations and marketing strategy for a zipper manufacturer.

Looking back now, time has flown by so fast, and it’s almost surreal how much I’ve learned and experienced during the process – truly the adventure of a lifetime, and which is already helping me to pursue career opportunities. But most of all it was the people that made the difference, from the friendships forged with my fellow MBAs, to the Cass academic staff and team, who have designed and delivered such an extraordinary experience for us. You have all helped to make this a life-changing experience, and I close this chapter with fond memories of the times we’ve shared.

And speaking of Everest, as a member of the Cass MBA Expeditionary Society, our challenge is to climb the 8,800 meters, or so, height of Everest between our collective expeditions in 2018. And thus, the adventure continues, as I look forward to ever more peaks to scale!

 

Dominic Graham de Montrose
Executive MBA (2017)

Number-haters anonymous

Hi, my name is Tara, and I’m not good at numbers.

Numbers have always felt like another language. A language that somehow I wasn’t programmed with. I definitely missed the genes from my mum, whose favourite subject at school was calculus and whose first degree was Medicine, and my sister, who is an accountant. They love numbers. My sister collects calculators and has an ‘I love maths’ t-shirt. Really.

I love maths a whole lot less. Working on a spreadsheet has always had the magical effect of making everything else on my to-do list suddenly seem in need of my urgent attention.

One of the reasons I signed up for the MBA was to once and for all silence the voice that’s always told me that numbers just aren’t my thing. Surely these are just self-imposed limits, right? Anyone can learn anything, if they put the effort in. And if an MBA is all about challenging yourself, then I was up for it.

So imagine my delight to discover that our very first class would be nothing other than financial accounting.

I did the reading. I did the pre-prep online Harvard maths course. I prepared myself mentally for the onslaught that was to come. I was ready. Bring it.

And Cass brought it. Seventeen straight weeks of it. Accounting, followed up with financial markets and instruments and business analytics as the chaser.

Slightly more than I bargained for. I was struggling.

There’s nothing quite like that feeling when your calculator flashes up the message ‘maths ERROR’ – in capital letters just for extra effect. My calculator’s way of telling me that the formula I entered was apparently an attempt to break the rules of maths.

Or that feeling of sitting in a business analytics tutorial on a Sunday, looking at the first question, and spending the next five minutes wondering if I was the only person who actually has no idea where to start. Then accepting defeat and asking the lecturer to re-explain the concept he spent two hours describing in the lecture three days ago.

It felt uncomfortable. It felt disheartening. It felt hard.

Why couldn’t I remember how to calculate net present value, or explain the function of a yield curve, or find the z score without looking at the formula?

But I told myself the only way was forward – kind of like swallowing cough medicine. Best to get it over and done with as quickly as possible, equipped with the knowledge that there must have been many a brave number-hater who has gone before me.

So I soldiered on. But that approach just made business analytics taste like cough medicine. So I switched tactics.

I hunted out the maths lovers I know. I asked them why they loved it. I absorbed as much of their enthusiasm through osmosis as possible.

Then I went back to it, and this time framed it as a chance to discover why there are indeed maths fans out there everywhere. I stopped telling myself I wasn’t good at numbers.

And it helped.

Turns out there’s nothing more satisfying than solving an equation right first time. Seeing a question, remembering the rules and applying what you know. The first time I managed it I felt genuinely deserving of a gold star, or at least a ‘you did it!’ message from my calculator.

We laughed when as a joke a classmate wrote ‘well done’ to himself on his worksheet. But actually, self-talk is powerful.

It’s not the topic but what you tell yourself about the topic that matters most.

Well. Who knew this numbers stuff would have an unexpected lesson.

In the end there were actually at least one or two moments when I found it fun. Ok that might be an overstatement. More like, satisfying. Proving to myself that it wasn’t impossible.

My name is Tara, and I can do numbers. I’ll just probably never love them enough to buy an ‘I love maths’ t-shirt.

Tara Anderson
Executive MBA (2019)

 

 

Older posts Newer posts

© 2020 The Cass MBA Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Skip to toolbar