It’s Friday afternoon, it’s sunny (something of a rarity in Manchester!) and the school is preparing for the arrival of Class 2014 next week.
I always find the few days before the new class arrives to be a time of reflection as well as anticipation. Class 2012 have been an outstanding group, they have risen to the challenge of the Not for Profit, Mergers and Acquisitions and UK Consultancy projects, they have high caliber internships around the global and they seem to have partied hard too!
Looking forward, for Class 2014 we are introducing some new courses and professors. I’m particularly pleased to announce the launch of a new Economics for Business course led by Ismail Erturk and also a new course led by Rudolf Sinkovics and Bruce Tether entitled International Business and Innovation that will launch after Christmas. We’re also pleased to have Professor Jikyeoung Kang leading the Marketing course this year.
However, before Class 2014 start their academic study they have 4 weeks of pre-MBA. During the pre-MBA we aim to ensure that the whole class gets to know each other and the city that will be their home. To encourage the class to explore the city it has become something of a tradition that I issue a challenge – The Director’s Challenge. So, I want to know who this is a statue of and where it resides.
Hopefully someone from Class 2014 will have the answer by 9.30am Tuesday morning, see you then!
best wishes Professor Elaine Ferneley
Each day as I walk around the Business School I am very aware of the energy levels emanating from the MBA class. I don’t need a published list of the assignment deadlines, I can ‘feel’ the tension when an assignment is pending! So walking around the school yesterday was an interesting experience as the class are just back from MBAT and are now mid-way through their UK Consultancy project, the first really tough test of whether they can apply with a major corporate client what they have learnt.
So, MBAT first of all, yesterday was the first day back in school after the annual class outing to HEC, France. I usually attend MBAT just so that I can stand on the touchlines and cheer however sadly this year I was unable to make it. Nevertheless it’s clear that Class 2013 had a great time despite a couple of injuries (one pulled back, one broken finger!). Medals awarded were a gold for Salsa, silver for Chess and Table Tennis and bronze for Cricket and Rowing. A fantastic set of results .. and I’m particularly proud of the fact that the medals show that MBS can play hard and party hard! As for yesterday’s energy levels .. buzzing .. oh, and glowing (a few people seem to have really caught the sun!)
Then onto the UK Consultancy Project. The Manchester MBA is unique because of the number of client facing projects that MBAs are required to engage with during their programme. The first project, the Not for Profit project requires the MBAs to work for, usually, a third sector organisation for c.100 hours in the first term. The second project is the UK Consultancy project where, for the entirety of the third term the MBAs work with, usually, a major corporate client for 2 full days a week. The third project is the IB project where the MBAs work for 3 full months, full time, on a major international project. No other Business School comes even close to offering this level of client facing work. Of course, the MBAs often believe that this means we’re a school that focuses on developing consultants. This is wrong, what we’re doing is giving students the opportunity to work with clients in a consultancy capacity but also providing students with an opportunity to reflect on how to tackle business problems in a domain that they may otherwise never be exposed to. So, one of the groups I am currently supervising is looking into the market for cutting edge facial recognition software. They’re having to consider routes to market, potential business models, processes for the selection of potential partners, the benefits of business to business versus business to consumer selling, licensing arrangements and exit strategies for the inventor. Whilst they are currently providing this advice to the client as consultants they are also learning about these very issues as they explore them, valuable lessons that they can take forward into their future working lives. Note that, as the home of ‘Learning by Doing’, we at MBS have been taking this approach to MBA eduction for the last 40 years and it’s amazing to feel the energy that is now emanating from Class 2013 as they really start to immerse themselves in their UK Consultancy Project.
So, Class 2013 … there’s 3 weeks of UKCP to go, I can feel the energy rising, the clients are already feeding back with positive comments and praise for the work that you’re doing, just keep focused and make sure that what you deliver on time, within budget and with ‘Original Thinking Applied’!
best wishes Elaine
Congratulations are due to Alex Bute, Fernando Machado, Katy Mirzaie and Tarun Sakhrani who recently won the second annual RSM Private Equity competition.
The MBS team beat strong competition from 7 leading business schools including last year’s winners, London Business School, Rotterdam School of Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, ESADE, IE, IESE, HEC.
The competition required the team to evaluate an investment in one of three Canadian gold mining companies. Once they had completed the evaluation had to pitch the selected company to panel of judges (the investment committee), comprising industry experts, academics and entrepreneurs.
Round one consisted of a 25-minute presentation and 5 minutes of Q&A by each of the participating schools. IESE beat tough competition from HEC in group 1 and the MBS team, edged out the hosts on the back of a strong presentation style and commendation for their investment approach. The final began with a presentation from IESE, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A from the panel of judges. The MBS team were the second team to be interrogated and continued their strong presentation style, also delivering some very detailed answers during the Q&A process. In the end, once again, on the basis of a strong presentation, some detailed answers, good research and rational investment strategy, the MBS team emerged winners!
We encourage and support our MBAs to participate in competitions, the next one on the agenda being the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) .. the European Regional Finals being in Oxford in March. Given this recent success of our second years it seems that the pressure is on for our first year VCIC team!
Prof Elaine Ferneley
The MBS Business Summit on Friday 28th October 2011 was one of my proudest moments so far in my capacity as MBA Director at Manchester Business School. The Business Summit was launched in 2010 with the aim of delivering a one-day intensive event when the current MBA Classes, alumni and business leaders could network and learn from each other. It’s organized and managed by the second years .. and I’m confident that those who stepped forward to become members of the Organizing Committee had no idea of what they were letting themselves in for!
Before I write about the summit itself I must thank the following members of Class 2012:
Core Committee: Dan Taffler, Rohit Duggal, Kayus Fernander, Tarun Sakhrani, Laura Mace
Support Team: Voravan (Mo) Asavametha, Alex Bute, Haidar Haidar, Manmeet Poonia, Katayoon Mirzaie, Andy Blain
Also I should thank the members of Class 2013 who gave of their time to help make the summit such a success: Hugo Tapia-Parreno, Varun Verdhan, Saif Khan, Neil Ratcliffe, Shaurya Aggarwal, Fred Cheung, Suze Pluviose, Mo Abdalla
Finally a special thank you to Kalsuda (Claire) Plangsiri and Chris Garlick for their roles as official photographer and energy panel host, respectively.
So, having given thanks where they are due (and apologies to anyone I may have missed), I would now like to write a few words based on my personal experience of attending the day.
Firstly I should mention the venue… I’m a life long fan of Lancashire County Cricket Club (LCCC) and have been going to Old Trafford since I was a small child (but still don’t really understand the game). So I was delighted when the Summit organisers decide to choose The Point at Old Trafford Cricket Ground as the venue for this year’s event.
Arriving at 8.30am I was pleased to see a stream of attendees heading towards the venue and I’m sure the Summit organisers were equally relieved, I understand that close to 300 delegates attended the event.
The MBS Business Summit’s theme was “sink, swim or fly: opportunities in a post-recession world”. The conference chair was Dr. Tim Weber, the BBC News Online Editor and a fellow of the World Economic Forum. The first keynote was Michael Parker, former CEO of Dow Chemicals and also BNFL and an alum of school. His reflections on the three major economic ‘bubbles’ of the last 3 decades made chilling listening. The first ‘bubble’ he discussed was the fall of the NIKKEI in the late 1980s and its subsequent effect on world markets. The second ‘bubble’ was the late 1990s dotcom ‘bubble’ and the associated rise and fall of the US NASDAQ. Whilst the third ‘bubble’ was the US housing ‘bubble’ which is widely attributed as the root cause of the current global financial crisis. Michael’s wise advice was to avoid ‘following the crowd’ and learn how to recognize bubbles before they burst.
There then followed a number of panel sessions on Finance, Natural Resources, CSR, IT and Entrepreneurship more details of which can be found on the MBS Business Summit’s home page.
The closing keynote speaker was John Timpson CBE who gave a highly insightful presentation on how he has turned the management of his family owned business upside down. I ordered John Timpson’s book ‘Upside Down Management’ within hours of the Business Summit finishing and then read it from cover to cover within days .. I read I’d really recommend.
Finally I would like to that the organising committee once again for putting on such an excellent event and I look forward to attending an equally successful MBS Business Summit next year.
Prof Elaine Ferneley, MBA Director
t’s a wild and rainy day in Manchester and I’ve put my house heating on for the first time this evening. Of course you could be forgiven for thinking that it was Autumn or even early Winter yet it’s actually 29th August and the new full time Class of 2013 are due to join MBS tomorrow. I would like to reassure our new class that this weather is atypical (at least for August) and I am sure that we’ll see more sunny skies over the next few weeks. I will certainly be hoping for good weather for the Brathay experience; our pre-MBA trip to the Lake District in 2 weeks time.
Brathay is part of the wider pre-MBA experience where we aim to ensure that the whole class gets to know each other and the city that will be their home for the next 18 months. To encourage the Class to explore the city I set a pictorial challenge each year – The Director’s Challenge. Considering the weather today I thought this picture was appropriate.
I’d like to know where the painting hangs, who the artist was and the name of their more famous pupil. I’ll announce the winner in my next blog.
I look forward to meeting Class 2013 tomorrow .. 9.30am sharp!
I am recently returned from a visit to our Shanghai office where I had the opportunity to welcome our latest China Centre MBAs onto the part time Global programme. The new group spent 2 intensive days on the introductory Global Events and Leadership course. I particularly enjoy sitting in on this first course on our Global MBA as it introduces the MBAs to each other and to the Manchester Method in a very practical way (although I’m not going to reveal how here as that would be spoiling the fun!).
Suffice it to say that the combination of academic and practitioner tutors in the guise of Pikay Richardson (our business economics guru who gained his PhD from Manchester a little over 20 years ago) and Leigh Wharton (an alumni of 2001 and company turnaround strategist) certainly livened the room!
In addition to spending time with the new recruits I also had the benefit of being given a guided tour of the city ‘hot spots’ of my choice by one of our PhD alums who now works in advertising in Shanghai. My academic background is Information Technology so my destination of choice was the mobile phone mall, which I thinking was something of a surprise for my guide Dr Theresa Loo who was expecting me to want to go handbag shopping! So, 8 floors of mobile phone micro-shops, small stalls mashing up mobiles, stands selling mobile phone numbers (virtually none with the number 4 in them .. anyone care to tell me why?) … I was in my element, the sheer energy in the building, the feeling that I was watching innovation occurring in real time and the surprise that despite there being thousands of phones on offer the one I wanted wasn’t to be found for the price I was prepared to pay…. even Theresa’s negotiating skills couldn’t magic the particular model that my daughter had demanded for a price I was prepared to pay!
Second on my wish list were a couple of Chinese paintings and here Theresa had much more success on my behalf. Again I had very specific requirements, this time I was looking for a pair of paintings that were of a specific size to fit frames I already own. In the first place finding paintings to match my exacting specification was a challenge but then the negotiation process was sheer poetry in motion! Although Theresa was negotiating in Mandarin the classic stages in the negotiation process were still clear to see …
1. identifying the problem (or product),
2. listening assertively to ensure you understand the problem (or product on offer),
3. brainstorming towards a solution (so querying the product, it’s quality, the workmanship etc.),
4. picking a solution (deciding which product or problem to settle for);
5. making the contract (haggling over the details, in the case of market shopping .. the price)
6. trying out the solution (settling on a solution, or in the case of market shopping agreeing the price)
7. looking for problems in the contract (undertaking a risk analysis on the proposed solution, or price. Iterating back to 1 if the solution, or price is not acceptable).
I’m delighted to say that Theresa’s negotiation on my behalf was fruitful. An agreement was reached, there were smiles and satisfaction on both sides and I am now the proud own of two rather abstract painting of bamboo. So, thanks to Theresa for a thoroughly enjoyable and fruitful couple of hours!
Launch of International Business Project Class 2011
Whilst I was in China the full time MBAs were entering the final stages of bidding for their client based final International Business project. Due to the sterling work of the projects team headed by Professor Syd Howell and Dr Phil Galvin there was an outstanding range of client projects on offer from both longstanding and new clients. The industry sectors represented range from traditional manufacturing to retailing, pharmaceuticals and new media. As we enter the IB stage of the MBA the similarities with the negotiation process I describe above and the IB process are striking…
1. identifying the problem. A key challenge for the teams is to identify from a client brief what type of challenge the client has asked them to explore. For example is it a route to market, sales pipeline or new market challenge;
2. listening assertively to ensure you understand the problem. Clients are experts in their business area and one of the biggest challenges when starting on the IB project is for teams to ensure that they are listening carefully to what they are being told at client briefing sessions to ensure they fully understand what the problem they have been asked to address is;
3. brainstorming towards a solution. At the time of writing this is the stage that most of the teams are currently at. At MBS we’re not fans of ‘free form’ brainstorming, we demand the an analytical and methodical approach is applied to identifying possible routes towards a solution .. this is usually where the supervisor/team relationships become interesting .. and that is certainly the case this week!
4. picking a solution. Our client briefs are usually challenging so the challenge for the team is to identify a course of action that will result in a useful deliverable to the client within the time and budget available,
5. making the contract. Ensuring that the strategy that the team is proposing is acceptable and approved by the client.
6. trying out the solution. For IB this can be equated to the data collection and analysis stages of the project.
7. looking for problems in the contract. For IB can be equated to the development of the final recommendations and implications section of the IB project reports
So, I would like to wish Class 2011 a successful outcome to the negotiation process that will form your IB experience. The brainstorming stage that you are currently in can often be the most uncertain of times but once you’ve settled on the solution you propose to adopt and agreed that with the client the direction that the project will take the rest should be straightforward.
For myself, from now on I won’t be able to look at my newly acquired paintings without thinking of IB week!
Today was the first time we included Brathay in the City as part of our MBA programme. From now on the new Brathay in the City event will be part of the set of activities that start the International Business (IB) Project, the 3 month client based project that is the final part of the Manchester MBA.
Because our MBA programme includes the opportunity for the MBAs to take an internship in the summer and then go on exchange in the autumn term it means that some of the class have spent nearly 6 months away from MBS before they return to start their IB project .
Therefore, we decided this year to start the IB project with a set of team building activities to reunite the class before they commenced IB. For such team building activities who better to turn to than the Brathay Trust who we have partnered with for nearly 20 years to deliver innovative ice breaker and team building activities in collaboration with us as part of our MBA programme.
I’ve often been sceptical of enforced team building exercises and still have memories of a rather unpleasant dunking whilst participating in the classic raft building exercise. However, today’s event had clear focus, to develop IB team protocols and commitments for Class 2011 teams prior to them engaging in this final phase of the MBA. Brathay’s innovative approach shone through today.
Particular highlights included watch Luis Gonzalez Fernandez, Levan Gvaramadze, Sunil Jeram, Sagen Johnson and Claudia Catalina Rendon’s team win the Brathay Banger Challenge .. did that vehicular contraption fly!
Also seeing the artwork that all the teams produced being hoisted up as a single conceptual piece of art was a wonderful end to the event.
However, aside from providing the IB teams with an opportunity get together and have some fun today required the teams to establish team rules and commitments and to practice their presentation skills. Of course the real challenge will be to ensure that the commitments made today will hold during the stresses and strains of the next few months as Class 2011 teams embark on the most challenging phase of the Manchester MBA, the International Business Project.
Elaine, MBA Director
The Director’s Challenge that I set in the first week of the pre-MBA, to identify a particular painting was won by Class 2012 MBA Laura Mace. A close joint 2nd were Manmeet Poonia and Alistair Forbes.
With Alistair’s permission I am reproducing his submission to me below. Please note that Alistair has provided comprehensive references explaining where he sourced his data.
1. The painting is the The Hireling Shepherd .
2. It was painted by William Holman Hunt .
3. According to art historians it alludes to Jesus’s parable in John 10.12-13 “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.”  The shepherd is not taking care of his flock and is being distracted by the charms of the girl. Historians interpret the painting as Hunt’s judging contemporary religious leaders as losing sight of the real needs of their congregations .
1. http://www.manchestergalleries.org/the-collections/search-the-collection/display.php?EMUSESSID=9a282b40e6c31c9a75859fa3a4559048&overview=0&r=1887671383 accessed 24 Aug 2010.
2. http://timothywstanley.com/blog/the-hireling-shepherd.html accessed 24 Aug 2010.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hireling_Shepherd accessed 24 Aug 2010.
Alistair’s excellent interpretation: For MBA students, a message to take care of our companies and organizations, rather than just to concentrate on our own rewards is pertinent. We need to behave with good judgement towards all those we are responsible for and responsible to. Hunt was a man of religious conviction who regarded Christ as the good shepherd, one who recognized his vested interest in human beings of all kinds, not just the rich and powerful . Whilst MBA students should not be afraid of becoming either rich or powerful, we must not forget that opportunities must be exploited wisely not wantonly.
So, can I strongly encourage you to seek out this painting, it is in the Manchester City Art Gallery (http://www.manchestergalleries.org/) and whilst you are there have a look for a rather unusual large painting of a lion which, rather oddly, is also used to represent a food product!
As I write this it is the Sunday evening before the start of the pre-MBA for the new Class 2012 who will be joining MBS tomorrow. On the Manchester Business School MBA we have always encouraged reflective practice and it is perhaps therefore appropriate that I have been in a particularly reflective mood today as it is almost 12 months since I myself joined MBS. So I have been looking back at the last year and also considering what the next 12 months will bring.
Particular ‘highs’ in the last 12 months on the full time programme have been the quality of many of the International Business and UK Consultancy projects, the satisfaction of seeing Class 2011 truly come together as a class, some outstanding internship opportunities and, of course, the various social events.
Looking forward, for the new Class 2012 we are introducing some new courses and professors. So I’m particularly pleased to announce the launch of a new Skills for Successful Management course led by Elinor O’Connor and also a new course led by Laszlo Czaban entitled Designing Internationally Competitive Enterprises that will launch after Christmas. We’re also pleased to have Professor Richard Taffler who is internationally renowned for his work on behavioural finance joining the MBA team this year.
However, before Class 2012 start their academic study they have 4 weeks of pre-MBA. The pre-MBA is particularly important as this is the opportunity for the class to get to know each other and the city that is to become their home. Last year, to encourage Class 2011 to explore Manchester, I set a challenge on the first day of the pre-MBA .. to find a particular image, a bee. This year I am setting a similar pictorial challenge, so I want to know where this picture of this happy couple resides, who painted it and also a brief summary of what message art historians believe the artist was trying to convey. I think this picture also has a clear message for Class 2012 .. but that’s for my next posting!
The last couple of weeks have been an interesting experience in my life as Director of Manchester Business School’s suite of MBA programmes. I took up this post relatively recently and, as part of my role, I have oversight of our worldwide MBA programmes. We have offices around the world and this month I had my first opportunity to visit our Singapore and Hong Kong regional centres.
The plan was to spend a day in Singapore then a couple of days in Hong Kong and, indeed the plan started well. I arrived in Singapore in the evening and met up with my colleagues Tudor Richards and Susan Moger who were in Singapore delivering a workshop to support the Perspectives of Leadership module. What I find interesting is that I spent more time and had a more in depth conversation with Tudor and Susan in a hotel lobby in Singapore than we’ve managed to have in the last 6 months! What I learnt from Tudor and Susan during that conversation was invaluable but also I’ve since reflected on that whole experience of spending a couple of hours chatting in a hotel lobby. There is much talk of having ‘quality time’ with friends and family but I wonder if enough thought has been put into the notion of ‘quality time’ with colleagues. Whist I am not an advocate of enforced socializing at work what I was reminded of from my evening with Tudor and Susan is that time spent with colleagues but without a specified agenda can be extremely valuable. Our conversation drifted from topic to topic, there was no expectation that we would ‘sum up ‘ or ‘agree action points’ but the evening was incredibly valuable. So, from that evening I’ve sent a ‘memo to self’ .. I’ve decided to schedule at least a couple of hours a week for ‘quality time’ with colleagues .. no agenda, no fixed purpose just an opportunity to listen/chat/learn. If any reader of this blog wants to join me in some ‘quality time’ just let me know … and the nearest hotel lobby to MBS is The Palace and I’ll buy the coffees!
Of course the main reason for my visit to Singapore and Hong Kong was not to sit in hotel lobbies but was to visit our regional offices. So, at my first stop in Singapore I met our Centre Director Ms. Lim Bee Ing and her colleagues. I also spent an evening with a group of MBAs who are currently going through the blended learning programme in Singapore. I was particularly encouraged that several of the MBAs who I met in Singapore are hoping to come to the UK to study some of the elective courses with our full time MBAs over the summer. As we move the programme forward, there will be more opportunities for MBAs from the full time and blended learning programmes to work together so feedback on how our MBAs would like to see such an integration take place would be welcome. I should also mention that Bee Ing took me for a fantastic lunch which included one of my all time favorite dishes, Chili Crab .. thanks Bee Ing!!
After my day in Singapore it was time to move on to Hong Kong. The intention was that I would spend two days in Hong Kong, a day to spend some time in the regional office and a day to officiate at our annual graduation ceremony and meet our alumni chapter in Hong Kong. Well the plan started well, I spent a most informative day in our Hong Kong offices in Central and am particularly grateful to Ms Christina Siu our Centre Director in Hong Kong for providing me with a real insight to the MBA educational landscape in the region and for introducing me to several of our current Hong Kong based MBAs and to our Hong Kong alumni chapter .. oh and for introducing me to the Hong Kong delicacy of ducks’ tongues and indulging my dim sum cravings!!
Following on from my day in the Hong Kong office it was time for the highlight (apart from the food!) of the trip .. the graduation ceremony. A graduation ceremony is the symbolic end to undergraduate or postgraduate study and, for me, being in attendance at these ceremonies is the best part of my job. We were also fortunate in that this year’s MBS graduation ceremony in Hong Kong was held in the Star Room of the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok. Well of course it was so apt that the ceremony should be held in a venue called the Star Room .. the stars of the day were those MBAs who were awarded their MBA degrees that day, it was a wonderful day and I felt privileged to be there.
So, that was the end of my Asian adventure .. or so I thought! I had heard news that there had been a volcanic eruption in Iceland and that it was affecting European flights but it was not until after the graduation ceremony that I began to realize the implications of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupting! I was due to fly out of Hong Kong straight after the graduation ceremony but quite quickly I realized that this was not going to happen. Of course my first reaction was great, a couple more days in Hong Kong and indeed it gave me the opportunity to go and browse the street markets and even get my hair cut! But 3 handbags later and with a growing awareness that I may not be getting home any time soon I realized a different strategy needed to be adopted.
In these sorts of ‘crisis’ situations I believe there are 2 approaches, wait or react. Well I’m not so good at ‘sitting tight’ so therefore, I adopted a rather ‘gung ho’ approach, rejected Air France’s offer of a flight 10 days in the future and instead decided to ‘head west’ and try and get back to somewhere/anywhere in Europe. Whilst I have heard many tales of poor customer service during this crisis I have to say that almost all I experienced was a willingness to help. Air France realized they could not help me so gave me a full refund on my return flight, I then booked on ELAL to Tel Aviv and then on to Madrid but when I got Tel Aviv ELAL were able to offer me a direct flight the next day to Luton .. together with a full refund on my Tel Aviv – Madrid flight! So, I got back 6 days later than expected, with 3 new handbags, a new haircut and having had an unexpected day in Tel Aviv which gave me the opportunity to wander around Jaffa which is somewhere that’s been on my ‘must visit’ list for years. The only disappointing service I had during this whole experience was a Madrid Hotel refusing to give me a refund .. but it was amazing how quickly they changed their mind when I informed them I’d be raising their customer service policy on Trip Advisor!
So, that’s what I’ve been doing in April .. lessons learnt .. spend quality, face-to-face, time with colleagues, be prepared to change plans when the situation demands it, online media allows the individual to ‘have a voice’ .. oh and next time I see ducks’ tongues on the menu I’ll pass!