Getting the hang of studying again

First week down and a fair number to go – most of ‘my’ new MBA class seem to have settled in OK and most realise that the first week is not a fair representation of what to expect.  It is only this week, week 2 of classes, that will show exactly what to expect from this semester.  It is now that the effects of studying and taking classes really set in.  Yes, a fair number of weeks to go but it is amazing how fast a one-year MBA passes.  Come the Christmas break it seems like only yesterday that you arrived and by then you will be ‘old hands’ at studying.  Merri and I are still having individual sessions with the new students and it is remarkable how many different directions people want to go after the MBA, either geographical or in industry terms but that is what makes it all so exciting.  So much knowledge in the class and it keeps building. 

On a personal note I, together with our Assessment Co-ordinator, am now getting the information together for the Exam Board for last year’s class.  The dissertation marks are coming in in a steady stream and then that class will leave.  Sad but also reassuring that the students we turn out are wanted by the market.  Some have already taken on their new jobs while others are still looking.  The current economic climate means that this will take a bit of extra legwork and this is where networking comes in.  Networking cannot be underestimated in finding THE job when it comes to MBA level.  This is where the saying comes true, the one about it also being about who you know.  But not just networking but also an active assessment of the value you can add to your target organisation.

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End of Week 1, well almost

I know that it was with a touch of apprehension that most of the new class entered the classroom Monday morning for the first class in Accounting.  Now almost a week of classes has passed (just a statistics tutorial to go) and the new class will have a chance to consider how it all went.  This by no means is the same as to say that it is time to decide whether taking on the MBA was a good decision.  This insight will come as the new knowledge becomes first conscious and then unconscious competence, and this for some will only be once they are back in their (new?) career.  After the first week it is also time to take stock and work out which courses are going to be the more difficult ones and which may be a bit easier.  It is important thought to keep in mind that working with e.g. marketing is very different in the classroom so completely skipping the class that you feel you are an expert in is a very bad idea.

It is interesting to see the groupings that are already forming in the class.  A number of these will survive but some will not as time and changed interests make their impact felt.  It is probably also fair to say after just two weeks everybody is still on their best behaviour.  Later on, and following the pattern of forming-storming-norming-performing, conflicts will happen and change the dynamics of the group.

I’ve now together with Merri Scotney, our Careers Management Adviser, had a chance to meet with a good selection of the class and it has for me been a good and insightful experience.  We do this to kick-start the career process and Merri and Eddie Cochrane will follow up on this weekly through the CPD programme. By the way, Eddie has now signed up as a PhD student.  I’m still to find time to sit down with him and learn what exactly he is planning to do.  Once I find time to do that I’ll write a bit about it.

So much news

It has been a few days since my last entry.  This is because we had a really busy MBA Induction Week last week.  I felt that the week went well and the ceilidh Friday evening was good fun.  Many of the male students dressed up in kilts and they all looked very well in their unaccustomed outfits.  Many of the ladies wore tartan sashes and all had a good time on the dance floor. 

For me, quite apart from meeting ‘my’ new class the most interesting session was the Innovation session Friday morning.  A presentation about innovation by my colleague Dr Geoff Gregson kicked off the session and then we had speakers from W.L. Gore, Procter & Gamble and IceRobotics.  Two are well-known large companies and one is a small (and probably not quite so well known) company and it was really interesting to see the contrasts between the companies when it comes to innovation, both in the organisation and the means for innovation.  Gore’s approach to innovation is probably well-known and it is exciting that such organic models can work in practice.  During the week I also had a chat with a student from Zambia and we hit upon the new concept of FDE as opposed to FDI.  Foreign Direct Investment is a well-known concept, but don’t we also see examples of Foreign Direct Exploitation?

Well, all of that was last week.  Now all are caught up in classes.  A key activity for me this week and next week as well are the 1-to-2 talks with every student.  They do become 1-to-2 talks as our Careers Management Adviser and I both meet with every student to kick off the career process.  An MBA is not the end but merely one step in the process.  These talks are to ensure that the MBA becomes a value-adding step.

The World has changed

For many Scots the World will be a different place if Bank of Scotland, set up by an Act of Parliament in 1695, ceases to exist.  This is more than likely with Lloyds TSB’s expected take-over.  It is reported that some sort of merger has been discussed over the year but it is of course the raid on HBoS shares that has prompted this now and let’s face it: a take-over is VERY different from a merger.  Otherwise, HBoS might well have suffered the same destiny as Lehman.  The Chancellor mentions on BBC News that they “were on to their problems for several week” but what is the nature of these problems exactly?  Are we talking real poor business practice issues or are we seeing the effects of speculators seeking a quick win?  Reputation is so important in the world of finance, even more so than in the past, but if someone decides to destroy that then this can be the road to a quick exit.

Closer to home, I’m still enjoying the arrival of “my” new MBA class.  Earlier today I hosted the Partners Reception during which I gave a brief presentation to the MBA husbands and wives so that they would know what to expect in the year to come.  For me personally it is important to meet the families of the students but I think the partners also enjoy meeting other people in the “same boat” so to say.  We’ve had the first Careers input today and tomorrow we will conclude Induction Week with our Innovation Event and the ceilidh.

And we’re off!

Yes, the new MBA class arrived yesterday and it was great.  It is such a satisfaction to welcome all these people who come here for such different reasons but all because they want to move on in their careers – in some ways similar but yet so different.  And that’s what makes it all even more exciting.

And there was a lot of excitement in the building yesterday.  Excitement and that niggling worry that everybody else will be better.  This of course is not true as all have strengths and weaknesses.  Yesterday was mostly taken over by registration, my introduction and a  brief introduction to the networking opportunities on offer.  This will be reinforced later on.  We try to keep not to pack in too much the first few days as the class has to get used to being in class again.  Studying is so very different from other kinds of work and one has to avoid information overflow.  So watch out for that glazing over of the eyes.

Most important of course, was the chance for the new class to meet each other and start getting to know the new classmates.  During the Induction week we will have more of events, some fun and some serious before the ceilidh Friday evening.  And then of course it all begins in earnest Monday with a very busy programme.

Net Impact safely off the ground

The professional chapter of Net Impact Scotland is now safely off the ground.  Jim Schorr, Global Chairman of Net Impact, launched the chapter telling about his days of setting up Net Impact and also about listening to Anita Roddick (late founder of Body Shop) and her visions for business.  Jim’s message to the newly created Net Impact Scotland was to find our own path, our own way of changing the world.  Some 50 people attended the launch which had a buzz in the air of people wanting to be involved.  The next event is on Tuesday 4 November and the topic is Environmental Entrepreneurship.  Contact Sarah Ivory for more information about Net Impact Scotland.

Other things happening in the School these days are the preparation for the new MBA intake and a ‘face lift’ of parts of the School.  New colours brighten up the place.  The new class trickle in these days and I have already met with a number of incoming students, all very excited about the year to come.  I think I’ve said before that this is such a very nice time, getting to meet all these interesting people.

Fannie and Freddie (and Andy)

The one piece of news that sparked the most interest today (although UK tennis aficionados may say that it was Scottish tennis hero Andy Murray’s win over Rafael Nadal) was the ‘almost nationalisation’ of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The US government seized control of the two mortgage groups and has committed to inject up to $100bn a piece.  The world-wide market has reacted positively to this but it is important to remember that there still is an awful lot of mess to be sorted out so this is by no means a return to the happy days before the credit crunch.  I am by no means a qualified commentator on this topic, hence the word “mess”, so please don’t base any decisions on my personal views.

And yes, the country is whooping with joy that Andy Murray finally got the better of Nadal.  Can he do the same to Roger Federer?