Good news for our MBA class of 2010

The latest Antal Global Snapshot report shows that the global jobs market for professional and managerial staff is improving.

Live from the Launch…

The One Planet MBA has just launched!! The official launch event has just concluded as part of the Enviromental Protection and Sustainability Forum. It was great to see the interest in the program and what it stands for.

We heard from Prof. Malcolm Kirkup why the One Planet MBA is different from other MBA courses, then from Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud talking about the involvement of the WWF.

Management Consultancy with a Purpose

Our team of management consultants is working with a local company to help them establish a market for a new innovation. It’s going to be a massive challenge for them as there are some significant incumbents, so we will need to offer some very clever advice if we’re really going to make a difference.

This project is different because success will mean more to them than just making a profit. Although they will definitely do that. It will also deliver a major social and environmental benefit because people who put up with exposure to pollution will be able to do their jobs without fear we can help eliminate significant direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions.

So we are researching disruptive strategies, and analysing the industry in detail. We’re working with trade bodies and taking advice from many organisations and people. We’re also conducting primary research in the field. Our final synthesis will deliver a report showing how the company can break into their chosen market and realise a benefit for their company, but also a Shared Value that will stretch to the wider community and world around us. It’s something to be very excited about.

It’s all in the mind

I’m fascinated by the art of parkour. Until very recently, I had a vague recollection of having seen a video of this disciple of mind-boggling strength, agility and lateral thinking where participants utilise only their bodies to negotiate obstacles in the most efficient way possible along a given route. This has been described as involving sequences such as vaulting over railings, scaling walls, clearing fences, rolling under low-lying fences or bouncing off walls. It wasn’t, however, until I was privy to a first hand account of how one such traceur did a Spiderman impersonation along the walls of the most prestigious theatre in Cape Town and thereafter proceeded to negotiate up the stairs of the stage on his hands and to climb up onto a table about a meter off the ground whilst still standing on his hands, that I grasped exactly how remarkable this sport is. My mind boggles at the amount of core strength, co-ordination and sheer guts that can be harnessed to allow such adrenalin-pumping feats. The thing about this sport is that that it’s not only about the physical aspect of negotiating these obstacles. It’s just as much about the attitude. Each barrier is viewed not as an obstacle, but rather as a challenge and an opportunity to work out how to get over or around it. That’s my kind of sport! Now all I need to do is to figure out how to develop enough core strength and balance to bounce off walls, vault over railings and scale walls like Spiderman, or, as my climbing partner used to call me, like Spidergirl!

Gentle Reminders

I was reminded of something so simple yet so fundamental over the past few days (my thanks to Paul Grantham for this pearl of wisdom): focus on the gap at the end of your line of sight rather than the boundary lines delineating this line of sight. Imagine driving down a narrow lane (or, in my case, driveway) that is just wide enough for a single car. There is a thorny hedge on either side and, behind each hedge, an uneven and rocky boundary wall. In reality you have a couple of inches between your car and the hedge on either side. What, I hear you wondering, are the chances of not scraping the side of the car as one drives down the lane? As it turns out, the odds for accumulating scratches are markedly better if one focuses on avoiding the hedge rather than focusing on the open gate at the end of the lane where the driveway widens at an open gateway (no comment about personal experience in this regard!). For me this was a powerful reminder to focus on one’s destination rather than on concentrating solely on the process of how to get to the destination or harking back to the starting point from where the journey set off. This is not to say that these latter two aspects are not relevant or worthy of consideration, but merely to highlight the over-riding need to look forward if one wants to move forward. Here’s to moving forward with the One Planet MBA …

Me? An MBA?

It’s all still a bit surreal. Who would have thought twenty years ago that I’d be doing an MBA … in a different country … with a focus on sustainability? After all, I didn’t like business and wouldn’t be any good at it anyway. Or so I thought. As it turns out, it’s quite amazing what one actually can do … and even more amazing that one enjoys doing it!

An MBA was most definitely not the direction that I would have anticipated my career taking a year ago. One serendipitous Friday afternoon changed a lot of things, though, not the least of these being my mindset. It was, I realised, a situation of ‘now or never’, and one in which I understood very clearly that I’d always wonder “what if?” if I didn’t ask the question “so why exactly is it that I wouldn’t be able to do an MBA?” And so the plunge was taken.

Big Thunder Mountain in Disney World, Florida, has nothing on the past four months. The One Planet MBA has been an exhilarating journey of discovery. On a more serious note, the One Planet MBA has struck a chord with me with its emphasis on balance and a long-term outlook. One doesn’t have to look far to see the effects of disparities across economic, social and environmental spheres. Being able to contribute to reducing these disparities constitutes an opportunity for me to make a meaningful and sustainable difference to quality of life. For now, though, the journey continues en route to that destination, one day at a time.

A MBA, A job and now a half marathon

Today marked the start of my half marathon training for the Great West Run. I completed my first half marathon in Reading last year, and although I didn’t find it easy I enjoyed the challenge and the feeling that I got once I’d completed it, well the second feeling after I’d stopped feeling like I was about to collapse.

But with a both a demanding job, not to mention the demands of an MBA why would I choose to try and cram another thing into my schedule? One of the reasons for me choosing to quit London for a while was not just to prepare for my next career move, but also make some changes to my life. I’m always in awe of the people who seem to have boundless energy, pack a million things into a day and still have time to sleep. As best as I tried I never quite succeeded, I would always run out of energy or get ill.

The one thing that I noticed about those people was they all managed to cram a chance to exercise into their schedule, take for example Natalie Sission who I briefly had the pleasure of working for and now consider a friend. (In fact she was one of my MBA references). She loves to be active and you can read about her escapades on her blog, but I’m fairly sure that when we worked together I could count on one hand the number of days that she didn’t do some exercise and she lived the lifestyle I described, and it makes sense. The benefits of exercise are well know so now its time for me to get some.

With this in mind I’m looking forward to our masterclass in March on Resilience and the Corporate Athlete. We’ve not had the day’s schedule yet so I can’t tell you what we’ll be covering but if the day lives up to its title it should be interesting.

Why MBA? Why Now?

A question that I’ve been asked numerous times since I told my family, friends and colleagues about my choice to return to Exeter. Although my decision was a considered one I’d never really had to firmly say why I wanted to do the course until it was the title of my first assessed essay. Having only written one essay since graduating, the warm up one to this, I was a little apprehensive but I’m not sure if it was the though of writing an assessed essay or having to finally commit to paper my reasons for embarking on the course.

To complicate things further this wasn’t the type of essay I was used to writing, one where you argue your case, put your point forward and hope the examiner agrees, this is a reflective essay, and my last attempt didn’t quite turn out how I had wanted.

So the process of reflection begun, and the only way to do it is to be brutally honest with yourself. If you can’t do that your not really going to do yourself justice, but there are a few handy tools that help the process, but for me the most effective was also the most simplest, Socratic Questioning – which turned me in to the toddler I used to be asking “Why?” to everything.

Having avoided the USB hitch that my last essay fell fowl of I managed to submit with a whole 20 minutes remaining, not quite the margin I had hoped for, but It was done and dusted, now time to wait for the marks.

As for Why MBA? Why Now? hopefully these posts will give you some clue, and if you haven’t come to your own conclusions by then, I might post the essay.