The positive pitfalls of group work

 

One important thing I’ve learnt from studying Marketing Strategy and Innovation at Cass is that there is really nothing quite like teamwork. Working in a group is by no means an easy feat, but it is an incredibly rewarding one nonetheless. There are multiple factors to consider, such as individual weaknesses and strengths, meeting times, goals and deadlines.

To give a brief overview of the first term, we have five modules to get through: ‘Marketing Fundamentals’, ‘Marketing Strategy and Practice’, ‘Creativity. Innovation. Design’, ‘Essentials of Accounting and Finance’ and ‘Market Research’. The majority of our work has been group assignments. For instance, in the second module, we have to participate in a business simulation for which you have to imagine that your team have been recruited as Marketing Managers for a division of a large diversified firm. For this project, our group sat down and discussed our goals for the coming months. We aimed for a distinction grade by Christmas and decided to meet twice a week to discuss our workload. Little did we know by week two of term that this idea would result in us meeting five days a week, to such an extent that I was considering bringing a sleeping bag and a flask of tea! Having said that, every group works differently, but for us we excelled by working together in a study room as opposed to working individually.

As the weeks continued and the workload became more intense, I began to notice my own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of my fellow teammates. What I can honestly advise everyone to do is to discuss these factors before you begin your work. I have observed two ‘positive pitfalls’ that groups can encounter and how they should be tackled:

  1. There should be no shame in discussing what you aren’t good at. Many times I have found that in groups it is easier to brush your weaknesses under the carpet. But if you see someone struggling in your group, you need to discuss it. In my group, we noticed an issue that had the potential of affecting our group work in the future, so we sat down straight away and confronted the issue head on and the result was incredibly positive.
  2. It is always important to treat problems and group members with a level of professionalism and respect. The only way to improve is to discuss it together as a team. A group assignment should be no different to that of a professional workspace. We are all here to work hard and perform well, so if you see an anchor weighing down your performance, you will naturally try to reel it in. However, it’s the way in which you do this that can be make or break for a group.

Approaching Term 2, I look back at the highs and lows of our teamwork. For the most part they have been positive, but the challenges we faced should also be viewed in a positive light. Our team adapted to these issues and we ended up achieving our aims. At the end of the day, a master’s degree is there to push you beyond your undergraduate skillset. I’m incredibly grateful for this experience as I have learnt a lot about myself and teamworking.

Nicholas McCarthy,

MSc in Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2019) 

* Nicholas McCarthy is a student ambassador. Should you have any queries about your course, please contact him via the Ask a Student page:  https://bit.ly/2FxozAO

Choosing Cass was a wise decision

Before I arrived at Cass, I asked myself ‘Is this the right choice?’

After I arrived at Cass to study the MSc in Actuarial Science, I realised that I’d made a wise decision.

During my undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Canada, I became interested in the actuarial profession. That’s when I first started to consider pursuing a master’s degree in Actuarial Science. I wanted to complete my master’s in a different location, somewhere full of opportunities and challenges, so I chose the UK.

I was lucky enough to get in touch with a Cass alumnus before applying. He told me a lot about this place. He shared his experience with me and he told me that Cass is not just a place to study, it is also a platform for you to explore and to connect with like-minded people. He also said that even though the one-year programme is demanding and tough, it is the most rewarding and memorable experience he has had.

About the MSc in Actuarial Science

The MSc in Actuarial Science at Cass is a one-year programme. All the modules offered are structured and graded based on the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) requirements. This means that you will not only receive your degree, but also some CT1 to CT8 exemptions upon graduation if you meet the grade threshold. All the course instructors at Cass have years of vocational experience. For example, one of the module instructors has over 20-years working experience in pension funds. Instead of just giving us theoretical concepts from the textbook, he gave us real-life examples to help us fully understand the concepts. As a student without much experience in the workplace, such insights are extremely valuable.

Social events

The master’s programme is demanding and intense, but that does not necessarily mean you won’t have time for social events. In fact, Cass helps students succeed in their academic life and career. A variety of workshops are running each week to help you to prepare your CV and cover letter for job hunting. One-to-one interviews are also available to book if you have any specific concerns.

I attended the majority of the workshops and I found that they are of great significance. One point I really want to emphasise is that all career advisers in the Cass Career Team have years of experience as Human Resource managers or recruiters, which means they know exactly what companies are looking for and they can teach you how to match your abilities with the roles you apply for, eventually making you stand out from the other applicants to secure a job offer.

What’s more, Cass also holds different panel events to provide a platform for current students to connect with alumni. For example, by holding the actuarial science panel event, I got the opportunities to talk to senior directors from an insurance company and gained insights about the current UK markets. By engaging in conversations and asking questions, I understood more and gained greater knowledge about the insurance market in the UK than I could ever have learnt from a textbook or newspaper. By listening to their personal stories, I learnt techniques and skills that I can apply to my day-to-day study and work.

Having the opportunity to study at Cass makes it possible to meet and connect with people from all over the world. Listening to their stories, learning about their languages and cultures has enriched my business school experience.

Yue Yin

MSc Actuarial Science (2019)

How intense is business school?

 

There are many reasons to undertake a master’s. Some study to gain knowledge, others because they feel lost or want to change their career paths. For me, an MSc in Investment Management was a way to learn more about the trading floor.

Whatever the reason, almost every student comes prepared to fight a battle. This became apparent in my first lecture. No one needed to be pushed. Everyone seemed motivated to study the content, ask questions and actively participate in class.

I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t intimidating. I came from an undergraduate degree and all my knowledge was either theoretical or acquired first-hand from short internships. By contrast, most of the students I’ve met have more experience in the financial sector, so have a better understanding of the practical application of academic theory.

But I was determined to outdo expectations. So I picked up every article, book or journal I could find. I asked a thousand questions to my peers and lecturers. The lecturers didn’t mind explaining the same concepts repeatedly until I understood them – that was a major benefit for me. Coursework was fun but also draining. If you got a hardworking group, you sailed through. But this same group could also end up pushing you too hard – we were assigned teams and so couldn’t pick them. However, in my case, luck was on my side and I got blessed with an amazing team. Not wanting to let anyone down, I pushed myself to work extra hard to deliver the best for them. For almost a month, from 9am to 12am, I was either at the university library or the lecture hall. I lost count of the days and the library, especially, became my home.

This is where friends served as my strongest support. Being an international student, they were the closest thing to a family and I’m grateful for their solicitude.

Lastly, if I have frightened you off the MSc course, then think again! Find the motivation, because for me yes, it has been tough it has helped me to grasp the inner-workings of finance, nonetheless. I want a career in private equity an emerging branch of finance and this goal always motivated me to push through. Ultimately, if you love your subject, your passion and ambition will help you weather the most intense and stressful situations.

Mansi Patel,

Investment Management MSc (2019)

Keep Calm & Trust Cass Careers

After one long year of brainstorming, I finally decided to quit my Senior Actuarial Analyst job at AXA XL Catlin in New Delhi and begin an MSc in Actuarial Management at Cass Business School.

Like most of my peers, I aspire to work in the UK and I’m keen to explore the various routes to employment here.

Two weeks into the course, Cass gave us an opportunity to meet more than 60 employers under one roof at the Cass Careers Fair. Here, we could network with an array of leading companies: Aviva, KPMG, Deloitte and many more.

Before the Careers Fair, we were given access to online sessions and workshops on how to make the most of the event. Looking back, it really helped me understand the application process of the companies that interested me.

The Cass Careers Service organises weekly sessions to enhance our employability. In those sessions, they address various topics like the preparation of CVs, covering letters, interview skills and sessions on industry-specific knowledge.

I made sure I attended each session at least once and they turned out to be very helpful in the application process. Moreover, the Cass Careers website has a real-time update on graduate jobs in different industries in the UK market, making it easier for us to keep track of opportunities.

I was invited to a telephone interview with KPMG. Afterwards, I had to record a series of answers and send them back by the end of the day. I had classes until 3pm that day, so I went to Cass Careers immediately afterwards. Although I’d not booked an appointment beforehand, they assigned an expert who helped me refine my answers until they were perfect and ready to be sent off.

As of today, I’ve been invited to five video interviews (stage three of the applications process for many companies). I’ve made it this far thanks to the Cass Careers Service. The detailed guidance and feedback at every stage– from drafting application answers to psychometric tests – really makes it easier.

The Cass Careers Service employ experts who have worked in the industry for more than 10 years, so they understand better than anyone else what makes your application stand out from a pool of thousands of other applications. Soliciting their advice throughout the different stages of the application process is really helpful.

So, if you enrol to Cass, then you can be confident and trust their Careers Service.

Sambhav Jain,
MSc in Actuarial Management (2019)

If you have any questions for Sambhav or any of our other student ambassadors about the student experience, visit our Ask a Student page. 

Heading Out

This year’s induction sessions began on the 17th of September 2018. As a MSc Actuarial Management student, I expected numerous lectures throughout the week involving a lot of mathematical calculations, group assignments and the inevitable long hours at the school library.

For the most part, this is the expected life of an Actuarial student. But Cass Business School provides way more than that for its pupils.

Our weekly timetable includes a module on Professional Development. Again, I expected this to be a typical lecture series which theorised about competition and personal development. However, the course turned out to be a very practical module, drawing upon the wisdom of experts in various fields.

One of the most popular sessions held was titled ‘Networking with Fun, Confidence and Professionalism’, hosted by Sue Tonks from The Career Farm. Surprisingly, as mathematically-minded actuarial professionals, networking is not exactly a natural skill for us! It is something we would rather avoid in favour of complicated spreadsheets and data models.

However, with the increasingly global reach of most professions and the requirement to engage with a wider variety of stakeholders, it is something we must all do at some point.

The session was led humorously by Sue, who also provided many key insights into the following matters:

  • How to prepare effectively for a networking session: this involves everything from logistics to emotional and physical preparation;
  • How to break the ice when meeting new people: acceptable topics include asking where the other person is from, how do they know the host, what brought them to the event, and the weather (always a safe topic in London);
  • How to discuss business matters: enquire into people’s current interests and plans and generate a conversation from this;
  • How to work the room: engaging people with courtesy and politeness and, importantly, how to join and leave groups;
  • How to maintain contact after the event: keeping in touch by exchanging business cards or contact information.

As the module is available for all Cass students, I highly recommend attending, even for just one key insight. Other useful professional development sessions included: ‘How to Effectively use LinkedIn’, ‘Write Effective Cover Letters and CVs’ and ‘Building Industry Awareness’.

Heading to Middle Earth

As hinted above, weather in London can be dreary and cold for most international students. I recommend taking a day trip outside London; that will cure some of those weather blues! Me and a few classmates visited both Warwick and Oxford one weekend in October. Here are some highlights:

  •  Our visit to The Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick: Originally founded in 1123, the church is a treasure of Gothic architecture. Nearby, J.R.R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for all the non-middle earth fans) married Edith Bratt at another Warwick church, St Mary Immaculate, in March 1916.
  • Visiting Oxford: Exploring some of the locations from the Harry Potter films is a must, and so we paid a visit to the famous Oxford University colleges. Most famous of all is Christ Church College, that inspired the design of the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies. At Christ Church, both muggles and non-muggles are welcome to visit!

Joan Wanja Mungai,
MSc Actuarial Management (2019)

Embracing priceless opportunities at Cass

I am a MSc International Accounting and Finance student at Cass Business School and I’ll admit when I arrived to London, I was scared. I didn’t know anyone and I was plagued by nervous thoughts: ‘Will I find it hard to make new friends? Will this year help me understand what I would like to do in my future career?’

These are only some of the questions I had before starting my course.

A new beginning

Since the beginning of the course, I have found the answers to most of these questions. I’m not saying that everything has always been easy and straightforward, but every day I feel stronger, more confident, more integrated and, more importantly, I feel that I am continuously learning new and exciting things!

Community support

I found a friendly and inclusive environment where teachers are always willing to help. The small number of students on my course enables each one of us to have direct, one-to-one contact with them. Apart from the high-quality of the courses and lecturers, what makes me enthusiastic about studying at Cass is the amount of activities and opportunities it offers. The careers centre is constantly helping us out: from developing our CVs, to preparing us for interviews. Personally, since I don’t have any work experience, I didn’t even know where to start to look for a job. But after participating in career’s workshops and having had a couple of appointments with the careers team, I am much more aware of what I want to do after this Masters. I started actively looking for a job thanks to the advice I received. I also joined an extracurricular course, ‘Coding for Girls’. I always wanted to learn programming but I had never had the opportunity. Besides having fun, I am also learning some useful things that I might need in the future.

A priceless opportunity

Being at Cass has given me a priceless opportunity to meet people from literally all over the world. This means I have made many friends who speak many languages. Every day I discover something that I didn’t know before: I learn new words, try new food, listen to different music, visit new places, and every day I can see the world with new eyes. And in the last few weeks, I’ve also enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere that fills every street of this magical city!

Daphne Mazzocco
MSc International Accounting and Finance (2019)

A spark of entrepreneurship at Cass

I got to Cass early on the first night of CityStarters, a three-day event for students across Cass and City, University of London. I watched the energy build up as student arrived for the entrepreneurship competition – the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to experts for cash prizes.

The weekend kicked off with a motivational speech by last year’s winners – Lonbrella, London’s first umbrella rental company. The team shared tips, preparing us for the scrutiny we might face while building a business. We were encouraged to network, reassured that feelings of uncertainty were to be expected and pre-warned that not everyone would like our ideas, but to remain determined.

We watched 35 brave students from first-year undergraduates to Full-time MBAs pitch their ideas in under a minute. By the end of the evening, only 15 of the 35 people were chosen to develop their ideas over the weekend.

Students who didn’t pitch or whose ideas weren’t chosen, had to approach the newly designated CEOs to explain why they would make an excellent addition to the team. I pitched to Andrew, CEO of FreeCaffe – a coffee shop that gathers market research in exchange for free coffee.

After a couple of drinks together, we were sent home to rest before the next two days of intense work!

Refining our business ideas

The second day kicked off with a speech from Christina Richardson, CEO of Nurture, who reinforced that “customers are king”. Emma Obanye, CEO of Mindful Team spoke about some of the lessons she learned on her journey including the importance of short feedback cycles to refine a business idea. We were introduced to mentors and student ambassadors, ranging from intrapreneurs to writers, each with a unique set of expertise that they would share with the budding entrepreneurs over the next couple of days.

We spent the rest of the day developing our business ideas and as the day started to draw to an end, things got a bit heated – specifically for our group. Our idea had changed five times from the original pitch, and we couldn’t agree how to move forward!

Despite our ups and downs, eventually all five members of my team came to an agreement, reinforcing a lesson spoken by all three speakers – uncertainty is an unavoidable part of the process.

Results day

Day three rolled around and we really started to feel the pressure.  Before we got started, we heard from Nina Ricafort, the marketing manager at Thread. She shared useful advice on how to implement marketing techniques on a big budget or a shoestring budget. This would soon become applicable knowledge for the three winning teams who would be awarded prizes for first (£2,000), second (£1,000) and third (£500) place to bring their idea to the next stage.

To build our confidence in presenting, Dr Ruben van Werven, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, taught us how to craft the perfect pitch to wow investors and communication coach, Emma Zangs, taught us how to activate our confidence in an interactive session. We started to relax as we realised that regardless of what happened, we would take away many important lessons from the weekend.

Finally, it was time for the pitches. We all gathered in the big auditorium and were joined by three judges. Each group was given four minutes to pitch their idea and one minute to answer the judges’ questions.

The order of presentations was picked out of a hat and my team (Free Caffe) was chosen to go first. We had been practising for hours and it wasn’t mine or Andrew’s first time presenting in front of an audience; so the pitch went really smoothly!

Once all 15 teams presented, the three judges left to deliberate and write the cheques. Once again, the room was buzzing with the excitement of the new friendships we had made, the skills we had cultivated, and the special weekend we had shared.

The judges returned to announce the winners – in first place, Shellpod – a company developing environmentally friendly solid shampoo, followed by Facilitrip and then my team – Free Caffe!

My Team, Free Caffe, with our third place prize!

I am certain this is not the end of the road for many teams and they will go on to create successful businesses in the future.

And I know this is not the end of our journeys as entrepreneurs. Everyone I spoke to said this little taste of entrepreneurship has sparked something inside them that they are excited to continue to explore – perhaps at CitySpark in November!

Tessa Etkin-Silver
MSc Entrepreneurship (2019)

An exciting evening at Cass with Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of Lloyds of London

 

On the 24th of October,  Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of the world’s specialist insurance market, Lloyds of London, was the special guest for this autumn’s much anticipated Fireside Chat, hosted by the Global Women’s Leadership Programme.

One of the most powerful women in London, Beale was invited for an intimate conversation about her successes, but more importantly, the hardships that she has faced and how that has empowered her to be one of the greatest female leaders of this decade.

Lessons in leadership

Beale’s words of encouragement related to topics regarding getting comfortable with discomfort, safety in diversity, and collaboration being the essence of leadership.

Her words of wisdom have inspired me to stop fearing the unknown as that is the only thing that stops us from discovering our true potential. Today, I am a member of the Cass FinTech Society. Although it is far from being a field I am familiar with, I am embracing it as a new challenge and exercise that will help me gain further knowledge on some of the most relevant topics in the 21st century.

PIE,  an acronym presented by Beale, stands for performance, image and exposure.  We learnt these three key components are key to a successful career and we should aim to deliver quality work daily, work on being perceived positively, and expand our networks as much as we possibly can.

As we all stood up to leave, everyone turned to each other with a smile that defined how inspired we all felt.

I was very impressed by the turnout. Ladies, your presence was expected as this day was a chance for us to embrace and to celebrate girl power. Gentlemen, your presence was admirable, your support to your female colleagues, students and friends gives us the energy to progress.

Opportunities for Cass women

As a Global Women’s Leadership Scholar, this event was only a teaser for what I know will be yet to come for this upcoming school year. Being a Cass student and an ambassador of this programme makes me want to set my goals higher than ever before. This opportunity has boosted my confident in my ability to become a leader of my generation, and with this programme, I can expose myself to a large network of people that will allow me to pursue the changes I hope to see in the world someday.

This is a rare opportunity that most people cannot obtain throughout their time at school, but Cass makes it a priority to bring these exact opportunities to its students, why not make the most out of it?

The Global Women’s Leadership Programme aims to exercise your mind and help you flourish into the leader you’ve always wanted to become. I am proud to be involved in such an initiative and we are thrilled to continue foster ambition throughout the upcoming events we will be hosting this year.

Khadija Cherif
MSc Marketing, Strategy and Innovation (2019)

 

Join the Cass Global Women’s Network to stay tuned on our upcoming events! 

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The invaluable experience of an international elective: A MSc Management trip to Mannheim

After a lengthy exam period, I was certain the other MSc Management students were also looking forward to our trip to Mannheim, Germany.

The Procurement international elective choice took place at the highly reputable Mannheim Business School, its main campus located within Mannheim Palace, one of the largest baroque castles in Europe. Needless to say, we were excited to see it in person.

When we arrived, my jaw dropped as I marvelled at the building. Wow. Mannheim may not have made it onto Germany’s most beautiful cities rankings but the university looked absolutely majestic.

I didn’t want to begin class immediately so I could soak up the atmosphere from the square, among the students congregated on the fine Monday morning.

Lectures commence

We were escorted to the lecture hall where we met Dr. Thorsten Makowski. Thorsten left the impression that he was more than a lecturer, and so it was true; the man loves hiking and he is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro sometime next year.

Before lectures commenced, he talked about the German culture and briefly about its economy, but I particularly enjoyed his talk on the “mittelstand”– commonly referring to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Most of the establishments around the city are small businesses, and the city does not rely on global corporations to drive the economy. I was pleased by this concept as common traits associated to mittelstand establishments include family ownership, emotional attachment, generational continuity and strong regional ties.

Kicking back in the German vineyards

Fast forward about 36 hours to Tuesday afternoon. After two days of lectures and case study discussions, our hosts were kind enough to take us to the Palatinate wine region. We had a wine tasting in a small yet beautiful winery, followed by dinner in a neighbouring region, where we dined on delicious German cuisine.

Though we has our own friendship circles on the course, I particularly enjoyed the dinner, as we got the chance to mingle with everyone outside the classroom – a different experience altogether.

Socialising with one another in such an environment gave us the opportunity to connect on a deeper level, whether it was football, hobbies or interests, I am glad the dinner forged new friendships that evening.

Facing our true selves

One of the activities which took place during our lecture on Wednesday was the simulation of the infamous prisoner’s dilemma. The “dilemma” faced by the prisoners is that whatever the other does, each is better off confessing than remaining silent. But the outcome obtained when both confess is worse for each than the outcome they would have obtained had both remained silent.

It gave me a true opportunity to learn about myself. I imagined it was the same for everyone else, as some of the students were astonished by their results and others!

Good vibes to end the trip

During the closing ceremony, Dr. Makowski and our hosts reflected upon the three days and if I were to simply put it, there were good vibes flowing around the room.

I felt a sense of accomplishment. Studying in that lecture theatre – albeit beautiful – for three straight days may have sounded daunting, but the overall experiences certainly compensated for that. It was a bittersweet goodbye as we went our separate ways.

Departing from the team

A few of us decided to spend a day in Frankfurt where we would board our flight back to London. Why not experience Frankfurt as it was only an hour away by train, right?

It was undoubtedly a memorable trip and I will cherish the moments I had with a great bunch of people with whom I feel I have made lifelong friendships.

How to maximise your international elective?

If you’re considering taking the leap and joining the Cass MSc Management programme, I have a few words for you. You must attend the international electives. Immerse yourself in areas unfamiliar to you, the experiences will last a lifetime. There are a few prerequisites for you to follow though.

(1) Do your research.

Familiarise yourself with the area you will be based in, and trust me, you will learn and accomplish more.

(2) Use this opportunity to make friends with the students and staff on your course.

You’re not alone, there will be people out there who share the same passions, interests and hobbies as you – I spent a lot of time talking about my religion; football.

By the time you read this, the few of us who once knew nothing about each other prior to the trip, would have played football together at least twice after, reminiscing the great times we had in Mannheim.

(3) Keep a positive attitude.

Make the most of the Cass resources available to you. Such experiences can change your perception on life and make you appreciate who you are.

On a final note..

Oh, and if you are going to Mannheim, bring some Euros along with you, as most of the local bars – serving truly authentic and ice-cold beer – prefer cash. You really think I would have written a post about Germany WITHOUT mentioning beer?

Amit Tolani
MSc Management (2018)

What to expect on the Cass Innovation, Creativity and Leadership master’s

How’s the Michael doing?

Most people would simply consider it to be a very poor use of grammar, whereas those inside the circle know that ‘Michael’ is spelled ‘MICL’ – and it is not referring to a person but rather the Master’s in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership at Cass.

And yet, arguably, the MICL can be considered a very loyal and supportive friend who challenges you on a daily basis; the friend of a lifetime, the one that lets you reach high performance, if you only let him.

For the readers who are unaware of the programme:  

“The MICL is a highly interdisciplinary master’s programme that explores and integrates perspectives on creative leadership and innovation from business and the arts, law, psychology, design and digital technology taught by a cross-functional team of educators and professionals. The master´s provides one with the necessary skills and knowledge to harness the creativity of colleagues, stakeholders, and clients within and outside of an organisation to successfully manage innovation projects and deliver breakthrough solutions” (Centre for Creativity in Professional Practices, 2018).

Now that everyone knows what I am rambling on about, I am sitting here thinking how I could possibly put my past year into words. The MICL spirit in me has come up with all kinds of great ideas, from self-written poems over songs or using my Creativity and Creative Industries module artefact as the star in a self-produced film of mine.

So much choice, so little time… For the sake of making myself clear to all the readers I shall, however, stick to traditional writing.

I started my first day on the MICL full of motivation with the hope of greatness and the desire to fill my hunger of learning. That was the intention and boy, I wasn’t prepared for what was yet to come. But see for yourself.

Throughout the programme we had an extensive variety of modules which I shall classify in this article as follow:

  • Hulk modules (Law, Technology and Psychology)
  • Captain America modules (Creative Problem Solving, Delivering Innovation and Leading Creative Design)
  • Iron Man modules (Creative Writing and Creative Industries)

Hulk modules

I have experienced the Hulk modules as fundamental insights into current trends and research of core aspects that we encounter in everyday life. From intellectual property rights to the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, core concepts came to life right in front of my eyes.

We even developed a conceptual design of how amateur athletes can improve their skills and performance which earned our group the runner-up prize from Made@City 2018.

 Image: Team V-Arena (minus one member) after the exhibition at Made@City 2018

Captain America modules

Whereas the Hulk modules have been all around pre-known subjects, the Captain America modules opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking and working. Moreover, the concept of creative leadership made me realise the unused resources of human capital that so many organisations have at their disposal.

The Creative Problem Solving module, as an example, not only provided us with insights into team dynamics and the differences and power of problem-solving styles but also showed us how to organise and facilitate workshops.

The secret ingredient, for everyone who hasn’t realised it yet, are post-its. You don’t believe me? Sit through the module and then we can talk again.

Image: CPS – The power of flipcharts and post-its

While we furthered our understanding of what innovation is and how it works in the module Delivering Innovation, we also embraced the power of prototyping and the concepts of continuous improvement in Leading Creative Design, which introduced us to the value of service design thinking.

Any programme that asks you to play around with LEGO and any other type of crafting materials is by principle a very good module.

As part of our assignment, we also had to use a sketchbook, which I considered a challenge by itself. And yet, just like with many things in life, I had to do less complaining and more sketching.

The result: a completed sketchbook that showed my learning curve, positively correlated the more natural sketching became. For all the readers who do not know it yet, there is a difference between sketching and drawing! If you don’t believe me, look it up.

When the module came to an end, even I had to agree with our professor that service design thinking and its methods do indeed work.

Image: LCD – Redesigning Leicester Square as part of an in-class assignment

Iron Man modules

Remember that I said I wasn’t prepared for what was yet to come? I shall introduce to you the Iron Man modules. These were the modules in which we could let go of our creative side. We could simply be us and transfer our personality and values into our work.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? And yet, it all started with a room of grown-up adults passing around tissues to fight our emotions. The power of storytelling was experienced by each one of us from the very first moment onwards.

Over the duration of the Creative Writing module, it made me realise that the fundamental aspects of writing fairy tales and screenplays can directly be applied to how we communicate at work and in our private lives.

After all, the way we express ourselves not only reflects how we are perceived by society, but also what makes us unique. As Stephen King puts it in his book, “Writing isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church” (On Writing, 2000).

The one that rules it all: Creativity and the Creative Industries. This module introduced us to the world of the arts and how they impact our everyday lives. What seemed to be fun and joyful for many was the complete opposite for me.

I struggled; big time. More than with any other modules I simply was not convinced how this can add any value to life.

And yet, I can’t say how wrong I was once again. I must highlight, however, that this realisation only came to me after the module was completed. I felt like I needed to take a step back, digest and re-evaluate what I had experienced.

I especially believe that the many guest speakers we had and excursions we undertook enhanced my integral thinking of how different aspects of the arts play into personal development and what is needed to overcome personal barriers.

Image: Overcoming personal barriers 101

In a TED Talk in 2010, Simon Sinek states, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Why I studied the MICL

For a very similar reason I decided to pursue the MICL. How can I know what I want without knowing myself? How can I lead others, without knowing my own strengths and weaknesses?

The MICL is all about personal development and in my case, it has turned into a state of mind. Whenever I hit a dead-end, I put my MICL hat on and think, what would my good friend MICL do?

Over the programme, there was one quote that stuck with me from John Masefield:

“And there were three men

Went down the road

As down the road went he:

The man they saw,

The man he was,

The man he wanted to be.”

This very quote highlights one of the most important tools and aspects we have learned and incorporated on a daily basis since starting with the MICL. The power of reflection. The MICL makes you think. Not only about the fast paced environment we are living in and the business decisions and solutions we are working on, but also who you are as a person, what you want out of life and what gaps need to be filled to achieve your goals.

The programme might have come to an end, but the MICL spirit will live on forever.

A final note: If Marvel ever decides to introduce a new superhero, they should take a close look at the MICL!

 

Pascal Rota
Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (2018)

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