Tag: 2016

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work


It feels like only yesterday we were at the early welcomes of autumn, ready to  start our MBA degrees. Now, Christmas lights appearing across the streets and department stores of London remind us that the first term is nearly over. As the people of London look forward to winter festivals, hot chocolate and baby pancakes (with nutella on top),  I look back at a myriad of eclectic experiences. From looking through the City of London solving mysteries, to learning how to bake a cake, building a vertical farm out of Lego and  hiking up and down the Barossa to save hostages – all as part of an MBA experience at Cass.


Looking back, it is incredible how much we have experienced and learnt from each other during this short time; each student coming from a different background and industry. For me, I came from the world of healthcare. I wanted to do an MBA to develop my understanding of management in the health industry. But, if my experience has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t
achieve great ambitions alone.

Working as a doctor taught me indefinitely that ‘I’ is a letter, not a word. Everything we achieve represents what so many people have inspired, believed and invested in us. So, I came to Cass looking for a network of people who would not only be diverse in their backgrounds, but who can challenge and push me to the next level. I am so grateful I have met individuals who have taught me so much: both in my cohort, and my Professors of course.

When I first arrived at the school, I expected the lectures and high volume of reading we needed to do, but the course has been more practical and intriguing than that.

During our introductory weeks, we had a team activity where we were given iPads and asked to follow the map to search the City of London for clues and complete challenges. Myself and my group were asked to re-enact an iconic movie scene – as my acting skills are terrible my contribution was to direct and film my group’s re-enactment of ‘Run Forest, Run!’ from the movie Forrest Gump. Later in the term we were asked to put our strategy teaching into action with a Cass MBA Bake-off. Each group had an incomplete set of ingredients to bake a cake that they had to negotiate and trade with other groups. We also had to work around the logistics of kitchen equipment and booking times to use them. Using our strategy theory helped focus our strategic approach to this (very delicious) challenge.


img_4119Following this, we had a trip to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. It was an unforgettable experience that really brought the class together and facilitated our effectiveness as a team. We worked in groups to complete tasks and practical problems on the school grounds. In the end, we were sent on a rescue mission to save a group of ‘injured hostages’ in the midst of coloured smoke screens – representing the school’s efforts of giving us a realistic experience. The combination of skill-sets in the team was valuable in allowing us to learn from each other and further develop our leadership and followership skills.


img_4266Most recently, we had a competition for presenting about oil and energy to an affiliate of the school named the Tallow Chandlers – without using overhead slides. We soon learnt that sometimes the less technology you have, the more creative you can be. In our endeavour for innovation, we presented a case about sustainable food and renewable energy. We explored how we can harvest crops grown using vertical farming methods to alleviate the burden of biofuels on food supply. To illustrate the concept of vertical farming and other statistical figures we utilised child’s play: from Lego blocks, to monopoly  boards and UNO cards. Using children’s games to illustrate our points served as a subtle – though important – reminder: that the decisions we make regarding sustainability today, will affect our children tomorrow.



It has been an interesting experience studying at Cass and now we are already on the doors of winter. Being a Londoner for nearly 13 years, you can’t help but adore the festive season’s charm: with  people beginning to ice skate on the courtyards of Somerset House and awaiting the opening of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

However, this year has brought interesting and new experiences to the normal traditions. Doing an MBA at Cass Business School has been very full on with the academic requirements and studies, but introduced something different and further solidified the notion of the importance of working as team, it’s important to remember we can go further together, and that team work can make the dream work.

Mashael Alanizi
Full-time MBA (2016)




The Shaman who turned around Ducati, comes to Cass


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



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.


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.


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.



FTMBA 2017

My MBA – an unlearning and learning experience

Selecting a school for my MBA is one of the most important decisions I’ve had to make. Even when I had read all the material, had all the conversations and visited my short-listed schools. Even when I had made my application and accepted the offer. Even when I packed up my life and moved 13,000km away from home, there was still a little voice wondering whether I had made the right decision. Our introduction to the Cass MBA could not have validated my choice more.

The first three weeks were dedicated to induction. I initially thought this seemed rather vague and a little drawn out, but I was wrong. It was a valuable opportunity to learn more about myself and my cohort through personality, psychometric and strength testing. It was an opportunity to get a feel of the dynamic teaching style and exciting content we will work with. It was an opportunity to build business fundamentals like teamwork, presenting and networking skills. It was an opportunity to really think about what we want to get out of the next 12 months. It was also an opportunity to learn more about this incredible city and critically to have fun.


I knew what I wanted to get from my MBA experience before I had chosen a school, I wanted to learn and to contribute. One of the defining traits of the people I admire, is a high degree of self-awareness, and for me that’s where learning begins. What I hope to get out of this experience are numerous opportunities to learn more about myself. Working with a group of people who have different backgrounds and life experiences forces you to acknowledge and accept that there is no such thing as the right way to do anything. The diverse student body and faculty at Cass will force us to re-evaluate the things we believe to be true. This will undoubtedly be uncomfortable, but that is how we learn.

Another key component of learning is experimentation. The opportunity to experiment is a dynamic that business school presents which is not easily replicated in the work environment. The risks associated with failure mean we often focus on proven approaches and known strengths. My hope is that the next year will provide numerous opportunities to build and test new approaches and develop latent strengths. This will undoubtedly be demanding, but that is how we learn.

Learning is not only about what happens at Cass, it is also about the extraordinary city in which it exists, and London has so much to offer the curious. Living on the doorstep of some of the world’s best theatre, sports, live performances, speakers, museums, galleries and more is why I chose London as the city to pursue my studies in. It would be a waste not to experience any of these and the question is not only how to balance this with the rigours of a demanding academic calendar, but how to use it as a part of our development. This will undoubtedly be challenging, but that is how we learn.


Equally important to what we learn, is what we contribute. Our experiences, strengths, and passions mean we all have a lot to offer the cohort and the school. Having a meaningful, positive impact is fundamental to my definition of a successful year. Continuing to have a positive impact long after graduation is the kind of legacy I would like to leave.


During this induction period we’ve often had to consider the question – what do you want to get out of the next year? The past few weeks have helped me distil my answer: I want to feel equipped to make a meaningful difference to everyone with whom I engage. To the people I work with and the clients we help, to the clubs I join and the charities I work with, to my family and friends. The philosopher Herbert Spencer wrote “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action”, it’s a truth I hope we all carry with us for the rest of this year and beyond.

Refilwe Maluleke
Full-time MBA (2017)

What I want to get out of my MBA

The Cass MBA program is going to be an orientation year for me. Being a local business owner in Belgium has taught me about the many facets of running a small business. This, however, is very different to business at the international and corporate level. With my MBA at Cass, I want to strengthen my knowledge in all aspects of business and get more hands on experience in different fields.

I am sure the MBA programme at Cass will help me grow as an individual. It will give me more knowledge, but, more importantly, it will give me more experience. The knowledge will put a layer of theory over the practical experience that I have. Also, the experience of our fellow students is such a valuable resource to tap into. At the forefront, it is very interesting to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

The international electives are another aspect of the programme I am really looking forward to. Speaking to several MBA students that have just graduated, the core consulting week to Iceland sounds fantastic. It’s a great opportunity doing a week of consultancy in an amazing country with quite a specific economic environment as a result of its small population and isolation.



Apart from the academics and career aspect, I have high expectations on a social level. We are only a couple weeks into the course, but you get to know the people in your cohort very well, very quickly. We are going to have to work hard and closely together – as well as have plenty of (Belgian) beers together. This, I feel, will grow some very strong friendships that will last for a lifetime.

I have the same high expectations about networking opportunities that will come along our way. It’s quite exciting having the status of ‘student’ again. It opens so many doors and makes it much easier for professionals to agree to meet up. We get offered so many options to meet many people in every sector, that it becomes difficult to choose which events to attend.



Living in Belgium means that you are pretty close to some cool cities like Paris, Amsterdam and London. So, I have had many fun trips to these cities in the past. When you come to a city like London for a couple of days, you get the ‘tourist feeling’ of a city, which was already very good. But it’s not until you actually live in a city that you get the true feel for it. Earlier this year I stayed in London for about three months when I was doing my applications for the MBA, and I absolutely fell in love with this city. It has so much to offer on every level. It’s not just a city. It’s a metropolis. The city is incredibly social. It is easy to meet new people and people in general are very friendly.

The first of August I moved to London and started my search for a place to stay. After a week and a half I found a fantastic flat in Shoreditch that I am sharing with a flatmate. It took me about two weeks to get everything sorted; a place to stay, a bank account, phone number… So there was time for a holiday before a very intense year of doing the MBA. After a week abroad I already felt like I was going back home to London.




With the Cass MBA I hope to make a triple jump: change Country, change Sector and change Position. Currently my plan is to look for a career path in business development, but my eyes are wide open to explore any interesting opportunities that cross my path since I still have so many sectors to discover. A London based job is definitely an option, but I am also keen on exploring business in the rest of the world.

The Cass MBA  will give me the skill set necessary to function in senior positions, the network to make these goals happen and the opportunity to orientate myself in the direction I want to go. It will allow me to explore all fields in business and I am sure many opportunities can be created on the way.

Dries Jennen
Full-time MBA (2017)

My Anti “5 Lesson Blog”

Act 1: “I Declare the Symposium Open!”

On the morning of April 25, 2016, Cass’s 3rd MBA London Symposium was declared open by Dr. Sionade Robinson, the Associate Dean of MBA Programmes. The Symposium is undoubtedly the school’s flagship event of the MBA calendar. Over the course of a week, Cass showcases the impressive network the school has within London industry and academia circles and brings together MBA students and leaders for a mixture of keynote speeches, workshops and tours.

The date, as Sionade had deliberately pointed out in her opening address, also coincided with the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, which occurred on the 23rd of April, 1616. Exactly why this was important to highlight however I didn’t immediately recognise.

Fortunately for me, Sionade went on to explain that the connection made between our Symposium and Shakespeare was to actually highlight the work of his close friends, John Heminges and Henry Condell, without whom, she argued, the work of dear Willy would have been largely forgotten. You see, Shakespeare, as brilliant as he was, never got around to publishing any of his work. That responsibility was actually picked up by his friends Heminges and Condell, who put in a considerable amount of hard work to published the now famous First Folio. Sionade used this example to highlight the often forgotten role of teammates and indeed followers in a leader’s success.  It was a fair point I guess, however, was there more to this Shakespearian plot than merely that?

As you may presume, I wasn’t entirely convinced with this parallel. Sure, if one of my cohort was upstanding and delivering a moving soliloquy every other week I’d make certain that I was uploading it to YouTube for history’s sake, but other than that….?

I digress. Sionade’s reference to good old Bill the Bard had obviously captured my attention so I planned to investigate it further. Except that this Symposium week ahead looked to be very busy, and also promised to be so interesting, that my curiosity on this particular subject would need to remain parked for some time. I would do it later I told myself.

Act 2:

During the week I was privileged to hear from and engage with a variety of leaders recalling their steps as they challenged their own attitudes, honed their craft and ventured onwards into unchartered territory. Indeed, Explorers and Discoverers was the central theme of this year’s Symposium. And, in keeping with that theme, we also heard from experts in emerging trends such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, disruptive FinTechs who are taking it to the big banks and also from traditional businesses who are reinventing themselves to suit the new complex business world.  It was incredibly interesting and at stages was truly inspiring. (If you would like to see the actual agenda and full list of speakers click here.)

However, it wasn’t exactly that straight forward.

After my MBA I plan to return to Australia and take on a leadership position at the company I was working at prior to coming to London. In that context, the experience during the London Symposium was, as I said above, enlightening and yet at the same time, somewhat overwhelming. With so many different speakers, experiences and differing points of view it was sometimes difficult to make sense of the key lessons or messages so that they could be applied to myself and my own experiences. Like a good wine, perhaps these lessons just needed more time for me to fully come to grips with them. It was a pretty intense week!

Act 3: 

It was at this academic impasse that I got a chance to return to Sionade’s original Shakespearian metaphor. (I was procrastinating from real work at this stage, so obviously my research on this tangent was particularly good!)

I learnt that Heminges and Condell published the First Folio in 1623. It contained a total of 36 comedies, histories and tragedies generally accepted to all be written by William Shakespeare and remains to this day the only reliable text for the majority of his work. As Sionade had pointed out, without their passion, commitment and knowledge, this publication simply would not have been possible. Characteristics that were all held by the speakers we met during the symposium in fact, but still, this didn’t help me totally contextualise the week. So I dug a little more.

I soon realised that it wasn’t just their hard work, passion and talent that made it all happen. There was more to their success than that.

In 1623 the paper industry in England was still in its absolute infancy. At the time, the majority of the rag paper used within England was imported from a few specialists in France. There were also only a handful of printing organizations within London that had the technology and capabilities to handle the intricate typesetting and quantity of printing. To put this into context, the Bank of England developed the technology to print banknotes in 1694 – 71 years later!

Clearly then, Heminges’ and Condell’s responsibilities in delivering their Folio for little Billy extended far beyond the mere verifying of text. They had to manage the entire complexity of the operation too. An operation that included the long supply chains throughout Europe, the application of innovative printing technology and the careful co-ordination and motivation of publication teams to realize their final dream. (All of this without a mobile phone and an email account too I might add!)

Success, I now know, is complex. Its not just leadership, and not just management – there is a logical but probably unexplainable mix of the two in my opinion. I don’t know what I’m talking about really but I believe Stefan Stern, who was the MC for our Symposium and a regular commentator on leadership, would agree with me. In a recent review for the FT of another leadership book he stated that “By and large we speculate a bit too much about leadership, and worry too little about management.” (Read more here but lets for the moment at least just assume his opinion vindicates mine!)

So with that revelation now embedded within me, I now understand that just like the experiences we discussed during the Symposium, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes untold that helped bring about, in this case, Heminges’ and Condell’s success. Theirs, and indeed those we heard of during the week, cannot be understood in terms of a 5 bullet point post, such as “Lesson 1, 2 & 3….,” although we seem to always try. This was what I was trying to do with the Symposium. Its futile.

Of course, authors of LinkedIn articles would often have you believe that success is easily understood in “5 Key Lessons”, or something similarly benign, but these are extremely crude interpretations and simplifications of the facts. Rough simplifications often leave inexperienced students of the game, like myself, dumbed down and ill-equipped to handle greater responsibility. I’m sure (or hope?!) the authors of these articles understand this problem and assume that we wouldn’t take their “5 Step Plan”  as gospel. However, inexperienced readers seem to eat these news feeds up all too quickly with recklessness.  Its a 1st World Problem I know but these bite sized “How-To’s” pose a real and genuine risk to both future leaders and those that they lead.  My advice for any new students young or old is to read with responsibility and take care out there.

And it is responsibility that I argue is the message (rather than the lesson) one should take take from the 3rd Cass MBA London Symposium. The volume and variety of speakers, who in their own right all delivered meaningful ‘tips’, as a whole allowed me to understand the sheer breadth of a good leader’s responsibility is wide, very wide. And Shakespeare’s death, surprisingly, reinforced that idea.

As a leader and manager, everything becomes your responsibility – not to micromanage and control but rather to look after and ensure you are getting the best out of the resources available. And given my immediate plans after my MBA, it is timely message to receive indeed.


The whole gang. There was heaps of us. You get the idea.


Dame Barbara Judge, absolute professional, delivered a thoroughly insightful and entertaining address about her varied and distinguished career to date.


FTMBA Student Nakul Ruparel is known for his ‘original’ contributions in class, but sadly was not asked to speak at the Symposium. Maybe next year as a graduate? (great photo though!)


Kate Philp, Royal Artillery Officer, now explorer and philanthropist, hiked to the South Pole (as an amputee without a leg). Now what’s your excuse? Truly Impressive.


Like Nakul, Steve Duttine (FTMBA Student) has a formidable reputation within Cass and will always ask the questions no-one else dare. His contributions during the Cass London Symposium were invaluable and kept #Cassls2016 trending. Follow @SteveDuttine

Dr Helan Sharman delivered a very reflective speech about her experience as Briton's 1st Astronaut.

Dr Helan Sharman delivered a very reflective speech about her experience as Briton’s 1st Astronaut.

Myself and Matt Johnson (right) at The Savoy. The ample supply of champagne ensured many great soliloquies were delivered. Sadly, and fortunately, none were recorded.

Myself and Matt Johnson (right) at The Savoy, the closing ceremony for the Symposium. The ample supply of champagne ensured many great soliloquies were delivered by each of us during the night. Sadly, and fortunately, none were recorded.


The 50/50 Cass Experience: Equality means business

Melissa Ridley, Modular Executive MBA, 2016 Cass Business School

Melissa Ridley,
Modular Executive MBA, 2016

Gender equality is so equally distributed on the Modular Executive MBA intake that in particular for the women on this learning experience it is being felt literally as a breath of fresh air. Women from all walks of life and professional backgrounds have signed up to the arduous and rewarding journey ahead to grow their potential.

My fellow classmate, Clair, had just come back from the United Nations (UN) for the 60th Committee on the Status of Women (CSW60), flying back into London directly to attend the induction weekend. The theme for this year’s CSW is women’s empowerment and sustainable development. Two weeks are dedicated to bringing Government delegations and NGOs together from most parts of the world to address women’s human rights.

It was the first session of the commission on the Status of Women since the adoption of Agenda 2030 with its 17 Sustainable Goals, including SDG 5 conference on Gender Equality, which took place on 1 January 2016. An ongoing part of this work has involved The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) (www.weprinciples.org) which are a set of Principles for businesses offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

The Principles emphasise the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and are informed by real-life business practices and input gathered from across the globe. The Women’s Empowerment Principles seek to point the way to best practice by elaborating the gender dimension of corporate responsibility, the UN Global Compact, and businesses role in sustainable development. As well as being a useful guide for business, the Principles seek to inform other stakeholders, including governments, in their engagement with organisations.

Clair says “From the UN to Cass, the induction has been an empowering experience as a woman who deals with inequality in the workplace to see reflected in my cohort the 50/50 experience. The initial experience has felt balanced, productive and supportive, it was fascinating for me to hear the men on the course in initial conversations saying how much they sought out having a female manager in their workplace, as they often had a positive, growing and nurturing experience which had helped them to develop professionally. In this balanced gender cohort experience, I can truly say a he4she climate has been achieved”. 

Clair Rees, Modular Executive MBA, 2016

Clair Rees,
Modular Executive MBA, 2016

More than 1190 business leaders around the world have demonstrated leadership on gender equality through the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).  The Cass MBA has pinned its gender equality flag to the mast showing true signs of business leadership with the cohort gender integration we are proud to be a part of within its innovative history as executive students.

In the UK the Government under the leadership of Nicky Morgan – Minister for Women and Equalities in collaboration with the select committee on Women and Equalities has currently launched an inquiry on Women in Executive levels. The scope of the inquiry seeks to address significant under-representation of women in executive levels. For example, less than 10% of FTSE 100 companies have a female CEO. It will look at 1) The situation for women in senior roles 2) The barriers to women achieving senior positions 3) The measures being taken by organisations to improve the situation & 4) Actions the Government should take in this area.

“I have experienced that the City is a great place for women to start their careers”

But what is it really like for the working woman of today?

Today, women make up 60% of junior managers, 40% of middle managers and 20% of senior managers and I have had the fortunate experience of working with the City for the last handful of years. I have experienced that the City is a great place for women to start their careers and I experienced a place of evolution from long standing institutions opening their doors and welcoming female CEO’s to a place aligning their HR strategies to incorporate the modern working woman. The city is such a hub of activity for networking, with networking accounting for nearly 80% of the succession of business we do today, networking brings benefits such as future opportunities, advice, engagement and inclusion into the business world the value and importance of women at such events should not be underestimated.

However it cannot be overlooked that there is still some challenge ahead to attract talented women to leadership roles. Research shows that only a third of ‘top’ jobs are currently filled by women in the UK. By 2018 UK Government has pledged that all companies with over 250 employees to disclose their pay gap of which statistics suggest is still at a large 19%. Bonuses will be included in the figures to make sure a light is shone on pay disparity in City firms, where there is suspected to be a particular problem with pay inequality.

Of course transparent reporting of pay at every level will tackle the glass pyramid that stifles potential and productivity in business however there is some apprehension from those that believe such disclosure could encourage large loss claims on equal pay in a sort of ‘ no win no fee’ type culture. However critics to this would say why this should be an issue with the Equal Pay Act firmly embedded.

But from the offices of the City into the classrooms of Cass it has been a fantastic to see their response to the evolving changes of the market. In particular the society correlated by Cass to address some of the challenges faced above. I am proud to be part of this year’s 50/50 cohort, one of my main drivers for choosing Cass was its level of diversity and it has been engaging and refreshing to see this work throughout my cohort.

Visit our website for details about our Full-time and Executive MBA programmes or our various scholarships for women in business. Alternatively you email our MBA recruitment team at cass-mba@city.ac.uk.



In a climate where there is considerable interest in wider issues relating to women in business and the relevant drivers, I believe that International Women’s Day is a day for us all to reflect on not just women but the growth of our nation as a whole and its relationship to the world. Understanding what is good for women is to understand what is good for business.

Healthy societies equals healthy workforce which is key to good business and astute decisions being made with integrity. Women entrepreneurs are acknowledged to be effective in enhancing the economy generally, and evidence indicates that women-owned businesses have a beneficial community impact.

Unlocking this potential for myself holds a poignant moment of reflection on this year’s International Women’s Day. This year I have been given the opportunity to develop my own potential by beginning my MBA with Cass Business School and its Modular Executive MBA.

In taking this on, I am delighted to have been awarded Cass’s ‘Women in Business’ award. Not only does this help to reduce my fees but allows me to advocate for the role of women in business. All the world’s a stage, and it’s up to us to decide how to use it.

I feel an MBA will help me to  find better solutions and business models to bring business, local Government and Charity together to find effective ways of social financing to support corporate social responsibility which is good for business and community.

One issue and one message I wish to impart on International Women’s Day is to highlight the growing driver of maternal mental health. As Executive Director for the organisation Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK and as a senior parliamentary researcher my day job is concerned with mental health and in particular the minds of women in the antenatal and postnatal period of pregnancy, birth and parenthood. It is a growing concern to many about how well we are supporting this driver of the wellbeing of parents to be in the workplace and community life.

In the context of mental health shocking statistics show a far reaching impact for women and their families, and indicate why this is truly everyone’s business:

  • More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby
  • Over a third of domestic violence begins in pregnancy
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for women during pregnancy and the year after giving birth
  • Taken together, perinatal depression, anxiety and psychosis carry a long-term cost to society of about £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK

Attitudinal change is required to tackle this issue

This is not just about supporting parents to be in our workplaces but reducing the impact upon the next generation who will equally be the future workforce in our business, corporations and stock markets. Mental health in the marketplace matters and perhaps no more for women in particular in the perinatal period.

Earliest relationships matter for future workforce matters and it is why supporting women and their families in the perinatal period is key to tapping into workforce potential. James Heckman, the Nobel Prize winning economist advocates through his research at the University of Chicago which promotes models for growing human potential – that the biggest bang for your buck lies in investing into our earliest relationships.

Leading economists have joined forces to advocate for business investment through social responsibility into community ventures which nurture the earliest years for the future workforce. It is in the interest of each business to get on board and strategically position its social responsibility to reap benefits from human potential and growth in its future dividends.

It is relationships that matter to the marketplace – why not begin by investing into early relationships in which the earliest foundations of our minds are laid which grow potential for a business mind of innovation, ingenuity and productivity.

I believe women are key to sustainable and productive communities – growing their potential grows relationships and community potential. Business must offer further flexibility and see within their profit making margins that the image of healthy relationships equals a healthy society equals good for business. This is how I am going to use my stage.


Clair Rees
Modular Executive MBA, 2016 Cass Business School

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