Choosing Elective Modules: A Student Perspective

By Catherine Crane
Full-time MBA student 2014/5

Please take a moment to picture this…you are near to the end of the first term of the One Planet MBA at Exeter Business School. The Christmas break is just in sight and yet, before you celebrate, you will need to make some important decisions regarding your elective subjects for the second term.

This was my first major quandary on the One Planet MBA; I have an insatiable appetite to acquire new knowledge and a desire to learn as much as possible. Here I was at a faculty presentation, all staff and students together to watch the academic staff pitching their subjects in order to compete for students. It reminded me of a “dance off”, a lot of humour was brought in to illustrate the necessity of choosing their elective.

After two hours of enjoyable “entertainment”, I found myself in the position of needing to prioritise my  passion and interests, from “Sustainability in Context” to “Sustainable Supply Chain Management” and “Practical Insights into Data Analytics” to “Negotiating, Collaboration and Partnering”. I was very impressed with the wide range of subjects on offer.

The first elective I participated in was Practical Insights into Data Analytics, lectured by Stuart Robinson who organised a fantastic and enjoyable trip to SAP (software innovation solutions) in London.

“Open Your Mind”, the company logo above the entrance to SAP beamed to us.  It was evident to see that this company was open to innovation, design thinking, solution focus and fun! What’s more we were greeted with open arms and enthusiasm from all SAP staff.


The group arrive at SAP Headquarters in Feltham

Now, if any of you reading this ever fancied yourself as Jenson Button and were hoping for a little practice before your race on the F1 racetrack, SAP in London would be the first place to go.

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Simon driving the F1 simulator

As much as driving in the F1 simulation car was fun (and competitive amongst fellow colleagues!) it was an excellent demonstration of one of the ways in which SAP use nano-technology to collect real time data and relay this to the central database (HANA), where the information is collected, processed and then fed to those people interpreting it on the track side-line.

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Another good example of this is football. Big data is collected from the pitch sidelines to track and predict football player’s moves and the path of the ball. Very useful if you want to learn more about the strategy of your opponents!

After a playful and informative morning,  we were treated to a delicious 3 course meal in SAP’s delicious restaurant.

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Shortly after, we were recruited to partake in “design thinking” which took place in a whiteboard-walled room, equipped with pens and art tools. Permission was given to write freely over the walls (a habit I broke as a child- and yet  secretly enjoyed) and we worked collaboratively in teams in search of solutions to healthcare problems currently experienced in global slums.


Anu and Navroze display their design thinking


At the end of the day, feeling very inspired and motivated by the power of design thinking in conjunction with data analytics, we left SAP to embark on our long journey back to Exeter.

Looking out the window into London, it was obvious that Big Data already plays such a big role in our lives in troubleshooting problems to make our lives more efficient and safe. I see so much more scope for the future of technology in our societies and the benefits it can bring.

We are equipped and empowered to make beneficial and sustainable decisions with the aid of data collection and analytics. Thank you to the team at SAP and Stuart for organising the trip for making this a memorable day that I will surely be carrying into the future. I very much look forward to experiencing my next elective module.

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