A different kind of buzz

Last semester we certainly had a lot of buzz in the building and tons of brain power was expended on a daily basis.  This is still the case but it is fair to say that the buzz is different in nature now.  As described before, now it is time for options courses – course of specialist nature.  It is early days but I can already see people engaging in a different kind of discussions, much more exploratory.  It is also interesting to see new connections being made.  Before Christmas when everybody took the same courses, the class tended to hang out with the ‘ usual gang’.  Now the class is split up in many sub-cohorts, one for each class, so new shared interest are being developed between people who may not have worked closely together before.  This of course will affect the group dynamics.

One course I have high expectations for is the option Climate Change and the Challenge for Business.  It is the first time that we  offer this important topic to the MBAs.  I hope to be able to add a few comments from students who take this class at a later opportunity.

I don’t know about you but right after the Christmas break I always find it difficult to shake off that holiday feeling and get on with things.  This of course was exacerbated by my catching that awful cold.  But now I seem to have found my energies again.  Good thing as there’s nothing more annoying than having a to-do list as long as you arm and no energy.

As I write this I’m also looking into my travel arrangements for going to Barcelona on 12 March to attend the fair on the World MBA Tour.  If interested then you can sign up here.  Quite apart from meeting with exciting prospective candidates, this for me will be a chance to meet with Alumni in the area as well as paying a visit to on of our exchange partners, EADA.

I’m also very much looking forward to the MBA Careers Fair on 6 February. Some exciting companies such as Accenture, IBM, RBS, Procter & Gamble  and Lloyds TSB have confirmed their attendance and many more will attend.

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A bit more quiet

It’s time for my Christmas break. Can’t say I won’t be here at all but probably not a lot until after 5 January 2009.

Bailout, Madoff and other stories…

Those of you who read my last entry about the US car industry will know that it was just too early to include the news that the White House was reported to consider using some of the money set aside for the rescue of the US banking industry to bail out the carmakers.

In some offices this has probably been completely overshadowed by the news of the fraud by US trader Bernard Madoff. It would appear that the surprisingly large and very consistent payoffs to investors did in fact stem from funds paid in by new investors. As a consequence major banks around the world have been hit. As have a number of investment funds and charities. Do I hear the word “regulation” boom through cyberspace?

I use Firefox and I’m glad because it would seem that a problem has been detected with IE. It has been suggested that this problem would allow criminals to take control of your computers and steal your passwords. As a consequence user have been advised to switch to another browser. It is probably well worth keeping an eye on developments here. Especially with all the on-line Christmas shopping taking place these days.

So what’s happening at the Edinburgh MBA? We have exams this week as well. Last one is Friday and after that we will meet for a reception to celebrate the end of exams Semester 1. Exciting options is beckoning in January but I do hope that all ‘my’ students will take the opportunity to have a good break over the Festive season. Semester 1 here is really tough but it is well worth the efforts.

Friday 19th is my last day here and I’m looking forward to the break. Christmas will of course be very different this year but it’s always good to see the family.

Fewer shopping bags

I’m just back from a long weekend in London and the Christmas lights as always were splendid, especially the ones in Regent Street.

What was obvious though was the number of shopping bags in the streets – far fewer than what I’ve seen before. I went about the same time last year and the year before and where you previously saw people laden with bags, this year people carried one or two. Either people are delaying the shopping to see whether the early sales will bring even better bargains, or it is a sign that people are sitting on their money. My money is on the latter.

The day after my last entry we saw the demise of Woolworths. The Government has pledged support to keep Woolies open over Christmas and into the new year in an attempt at securing a salary for the thousands of people who work for Woolies. Judging from the news so far, this is purely a charity act as the Government previously has refused to bail out Woolies. Reports suggest that a number of interested parties are lining up for the take-over as the shops are located in desirable spots and, apparently, many of these have planning permission to add on food courts making a take-over of Woolies a delicious prospect for supermarkets. If they have the funds.

Will this work?

Yesterday, Chancellor Alistair Darling unvelied his rescue plan for the British economy.  The miracle oil that is to set the wheels in motion again is a cut in VAT from 17.5% to 15%.  Will this work?  Well, it will give everybody a few more pounds but is it enough to make us trust the ‘system’ again or will we continue to sit on every penny we can lay our hands on?  I think so because we are still to see the full consequences of the credit crunch.

It is also interesting to see this in the light that business activity needs a serious boost. Especially small businesses who struggle both because large businesses seem to delay payments to small businesses that can’t do anything about it, and also because banks (finally having learnt from the past) now deny overdrafts and ‘survival type’ loans, etc.  But won’t it also mean that scarce resources need to be spent on changing business procedures?  Will the VAT reduction be spent on the implementation of this?  On adjusting and adapting financial systems.

Yes, it is easy to be critical and I couldn’t have done better but I would really have liked to see this propped up with a promise that all will be done to avoid this happening again.  And how this might be done.  Because isn’t it a lot to do with lack of regulation?

Enough of this scaremongering.  There are things that can put a smile to your face.  The Christmas lights are coming up in Edinburgh and even if the presents will be much smaller this year, isn’t it all about family anyway?

Integrative Project Week

This week my students are all busy with their Integrative Project, the one that serves to bring together the core courses taught in Semester 1.  It seems to be going OK but with a bit of settling in as this is very different from classes.  This morning we, among other things, had the National Advertising Awards (not to be confused with the real thing) with awards for the groups’ advertising posters – one winner and two runner-ups.  Our good friends, Jill Taylor and Kevin Bird from family came in and acted as experts.

Next week we will go into revision before six exams and then it is Christmas.  As it happens it’s only another month to go today.  Well, it is for Danes as we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve.

Behind the scene we work on a review of our MBA.  It is essential to do this regularly so that you know that your offering is in line with what is required by the market.  This makes it sound very business-like and running a business school is like running a business.  We should be aware of what the market requires.  Otherwise, why would you want to come to the University of Edinburgh Business School for your MBA?