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An MBA Director’s Day Out

As I write I’m sat on a Virgin train on my way back from London to Manchester, it’s 10.30pm and it’s been an interesting day…. In the last 5 years the west coast mainline which joins London and Manchester has been significantly upgraded so that journey time between London and Manchester is now (usually!!) just over 2 hours travelling at up to 14o mph. We’ve also got the fantastic tilting Virgin Pendolinos on this route .. and before you ask, no I am not on commission from Richard B! However I am a great fan of train travel and was therefore looking forward, not only to my day in London but also to the journey itself.  It’s a great opportunity to clear the inbox (Virgin wi-fi), indulge in my love of Virgin’s strange mixed fruit and nut bars and spend some time updating my neglected blog! Until now the day has been going great …

I spent the early part of the day in a UK research council meeting where we were discussing the funding of research that focuses on digital technology use in industry and society. My specific academic interest is how technology is adopted and changed in society, how technology is embedded in and changes our lives. So I had a fun morning discussing what our future, technologically enhanced, lives may be like!!

From lunchtime onwards the MBA Director hat was back on. I had a meeting with an industry association who represent the venture capital and private equity sector to discuss opportunities for our MBAs to work with them during the forthcoming Business Research project and also possibilities for internships. One of the team I was talking to was an alum of Class 2009 who did her internship at BVCA and was then taken on full time and it was great to hear how highly she was regarded by the organisation.

It was then on to the evening event, an alumni focus group at one of my favourite London locations the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Carlton House Terrace, off Pall Mall, wonderful book filled rooms and leather chairs! This was an opportunity for me to hear from our alums and get their views on new programme developments. We aim to revise the MBA programme annually and hearing from our alums is crucial as they can advise and provide a critical reflection on their experience of the MBA and it’s relevance to what they are doing now.

As always when talking to alums it was a very lively debate not least because the perennial question of whether MBAs are customers came up. I’ve always preferred to think of the relationship between MBAs and MBS as that of coach and athlete, on arrival at MBS we put MBAs through their paces. We develop a programme of study for you that is hard, rigorous and challenging but at the end of which will mean that you are fighting fit for that competitive job market.

As any good coach should, we will push you to your limits and have developed a programme that we know is good for you! However this evening it was great to listen to the views of the alums and I certainly took to heart the message that we need to continue to ensure that we are customer focused and continue to strive to ensure that the MBS MBA delivers what our MBA customer wants at the same time as turning them into MBA athletes!

For current MBAs who want to hear more about this evening’s focus group please do chat to Karen Brewer DVP Alumni Relations who joined the focus group and provided valuable insight for the alums on how the programme is currently running.

So that was my day in London and now Karen and I are sat on the train home experiencing customer relations first hand. There has been some sort of failure to the overhead lines and therefore, although we left London at 9.30pm, we are not scheduled to arrive in Manchester until 1.00am tomorrow!! This is the first time in years that I’ve got on a Manchester/London train and there been any delays and I have to say that the way Virgin are handling it is an exemplar of good customer relations. About an hour ago we ground to a halt and the train’s customer service manager informed us with a heavy heart that we were the 14th train in a queue waiting to go through the area that had experienced the line failure. As you can imagine there has been a run on the shop so we were told that water stocks were running low. Since then we’ve stopped at Milton Keynes and, as our helpful customer relations manager has informed us, we’ve taken on more supplies!! We’ve even been informed that they are low on small change!! And as I’m writing we’ve just been told the latest estimated arrival time to the nearest minute .. at the time of writing we’re estimated to arrive in Manchester at 12.48 .. so we’ve gained 2 minutes!

For me this evening’s train journey is a very practical illustration that keeping customers informed of the latest situation helps in good customer (or MBA athletes) relations .. so keep checking into the blog and I’ll keep you informed!

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