Is 150 years even relevant?

Yesterday Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison – the most severe punishment possible after his £45bn rip-off of his investors.

My question is: Is this even relevant?

Mr Madoff made off (pardon the pun) with more than £45bn from investors that should probably have known better – continuously outperforming other investment vehicles and fund managers ought to raise at least some suspicion. But 150 years in prison will not bring back the money that has been squandered and probably stashed away in obscure bank accounts. It will not bring order to the lives of small scale investors who relied on Madoff to provide their pension fund and it will not bring back the money to the big banks around the world that definitely should have known better. (Isn’t it their business to know these things?). Mr Madoff is alleged to have said that he had to live with the pain and torment of his wrong-doings for the rest of his life. Tough! At least he is now secured three meals a day and a bed every evening, even in his old age. Yes, I’m harsh but this not the case for many small scale investors who now do not have a pension nest egg to take them through their dotage.

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Jet lag – arrgh!

How I hate jet lag! I thought I was doing OK yesterday but round bedtime I was not at all ready to go to sleep. So as a consequence I’m yawning my head off and I feel in need of copious cups of coffee to keep me awake. Good thing that this is not another full day of presentations, as we had last week. It has however been a day full of meetings which is not necessarily better.  It is in this case though as I have had the opportunity to meet with two prospective students. That is such a joy. I’ve also spoken to a third over the phone so all in all a good day. Even if I’m yawning.

So much to tell…

I went t the GMAC Annual Industry Conference in Baltimore and it was a great conference.  I was particularly taken with the two keynote speakers, Dame Marjorie Scardino and Sir Ken Robinson.

Marjorie Scardino’s take on the death of capitalism as we know it was particularly inspiring and so was her ideas about what will inspire business in the future. Her background as a rodeo rider, her law degree, and her career in publishing means that she has seen the multiple faces of the World as we know it so her word ought to carry a lot of weight. Ken Robinson ought to be well-known for his work and ideas about creativity and education. With his statement that education kills creativity he had made numerous suggestions on how to improve the educational system as we know. He explains that we have been educated to become good workers and that this has taken a toll on our creative thinking. I can concur with some of this.  I teach a course in design, creativity and problem-solving and it is interesting to see how students need to be taken out of their comfort zone to perform. Some never manage to do this because they are so focused on whether “this will give me a good mark”.

So now I’m back at my desk and busy catching up with the zillions (it seems) of emails that will pile up in my inbox even after only five days away. Monday and Tuesday last week was busy with presentations of the consultancy projects that the full-time class have been working on since March and there was some good work there that ought to be very useful for the companies and organisations that benefited from the projects this year. This of course means that this year’s full-time class are now focused on their final project, the one that we call the dissertation. This word may seem a bit scary but it really just is a word. We have many models for this final project. Most of the class work on projects that will solve actual problems for real companies while some work on the business plan for the company that they intend to set up after graduation. Such a multitude of inspiration!

Visit by Anthony Hopwood

Distinguished scholar and Dean of Said Business School from 1999 and until 2006, Professor Anthony Hopwood need no introduction. We had the pleasure of hosting Professor Hopwood recently when he gave a talk about his views about the MBA and shared some of his experiences from Said. One of his comment I liked in particular, that MBA programmes should be more knowledge based and less about Guru speak. But of course! What is the use of taking time out to do an MBA if all you can do afterwards is regurgitate the views of the people who have, deservedly or not, been labeled Gurus? The MBA must equip you with the knowledge and skills that will allow you to work out your own answers! Otherwise, you will be a very poor asset to your future organisation. Probably as a consequence of his views, Professor Hopwood took the world of business schools to task in the FT on 20 July 2008 with a challenge to focus on IDEAS and not  simply on getting as many publications as possible. Professor Hopwood has also commented on the MBA rankings game in his paper in the European Management Review in which he discusses the merits of such rankings. It lends for very interesting reading. Somehow I don’t think Professor Hopwood is a fan of MBA rankings.

Yesterday was in a small way a historic day for the School. We ratified the degree for the first student to graduate from our Modular MBA programme. The happy person, Mark Gardiner currently sits in Kazakhstan and ponders  his time with the Edinburgh MBA. Congratulations Mark!

Financial Services Advisory Board 2009 Annual Report

The School was today host to the Financial Services Advisory Board 2009 Annual Report launch. The launch was attended by John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth in Scotland. Other prominent members included our Principal, Sir Timothy O’Shea, representatives from AEGON, State Street, ACCA Global, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Chartered Institute of Banker in Scotland and many more.

Also, don’t forget that Tonight’s the night. Yes, tonight our new website will appear, magically between 1-3am. Tweaking is taking place to the live system to ensure that the change over runs smoothly but this may produce that our current website is a bit wonky. Hope this will not affect you too much.

We had an absolutely smashing weekend here in Edinburgh/Scotland/the UK so I’m sure there are a few sunburns out there. I myself didn’t suffer any of that but I must have been slightly mad to go walking steep hillsides near Glentress. Yes, I’m a wimp but there’s nothing to do about that. It was rather nice though but HOT! The Edinburgh Marathon took place yesterday (31 May) and I’m sure the runners felt the heat.