Category: Master’s in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership

MICL is the one for me!

The MICL chose me.

After working for almost five years at EY Russia, I decided that it was time to pursue a master’s degree. So, I quit my job, started to prepare for the IELTS exam and applied to a few different universities. I began receiving acceptance letters, but I was anxiously waiting for a response from Cass. As soon as I received my acceptance letter, I rejected all the other offers and announced to my family and friends that I was moving to London. That night, when my friends asked me why I chose that specific programme, my answer came down to instinct. I just had a gut feeling that the MICL* was the one for me.

*Masters of Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, aka the MICL.


Christmas Party

The MICL life.

I really didn’t know what to expect from the programme as it is so unique in its format and content. The first day was very exciting, and I was eager to find out what I was in for. I still remember our lecturer’s words to us: “My job here is to rewire your brain.” While it might sound odd at first, once you get into the MICL, you begin the work of unlearning old habits and way of doing things, and opening your mind to the world and to learning new things.

Like everything in the MICL, the classes were unique and diverse. The most important thing for me was that every class gave you an opportunity to engage with your classmates and teachers. The MICL is really a place where you are expected to share your thoughts and opinion. Your voice matters and is heard.

This whole year was also a great exercise of getting out of my comfort zone. And this also happened to all of my classmates. The MICL has something challenging for everyone, whether it is performing on a stage, inventing a new use for VR technology, or doing an academic research project. Generally, all the modules are a combination of business and creativity. One of the memorable examples for this was using LEGOs in Leading Creative Design module, where we used the building blocks to express our ideas, visualise them and discuss with the team.

Life outside the MICL.

Last day of class

The programme also offers a unique opportunity to work part-time on projects of the Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice. During the year, I worked on two projects that allowed me to use the acquired skills and learn new ones from professionals. One of the projects consisted of creating a prototype after doing some reaching and then testing the prototype with actual potential users. The second project was international, so I had the opportunity to connect with different people. My task was to help out with presentations and then to review pitch ideas for a contest. Even though my official work for that project is over, I still follow the news from the competition.

The Lord Mayor’s parade

What truly stuck with me was the people I got to meet along the way. Everyone in our class came from different countries, backgrounds and working experiences. We have a lawyer that now wants to shift to service design and a business owner who just wants to take things to another level. The program really helped with making self-discoveries and a better understanding of your values, needs and preferred working styles.

The best thing was, that everyone in the class was in the same mindset. This allowed us to instantly connect, help out with classes, and enjoy typical British pub culture after class. One of the best traditions we created was organising Cultural Dinners: once a month, one of us would find a restaurant with our country’s cuisine. At the restaurant, we would enjoy the food while the host would tell us stories about their home country and the culture.

This year spent at Cass has been incredibly special to me. At times it was tough and stressful, but always enjoyable. In the end, I got so much more than I ever expected— and I say this even though I still have to finish my dissertation to get the actual degree!

Seda Badalyan, Master’s of Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (2019)

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.

My MICL experience

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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