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Archive for October, 2006

October e-newsletter

Hello all,

It’s been a year since I started working here at Henley and I suppose it would be cliched to say that the time has rushed by, but too true not to say it anyway. It’s also true to say that I’m really enjoying myself working here. What makes Henley such a vibrant and rewarding place to be is an esoteric blend of location, intellectual focus and network. The location I’ve often commented on, the intellect is often apparent in the quality of input and output from workshops, assignments and research, and the network encompasses both what sometimes feels like a village atmosphere here at the College and also connections among and between all the students who make the place tick.

In the year I have been Programme Leader I have tried to look for ways, this e-newsletter being one, of bringing DL students closer to the College. When we go live with the new virtual learning environment, I hope to add to that with regular synchronous online Q and A sessions for each Intake.

As I write this, the large marquee that will host the October graduation ceremony is being put up on the lawn in front of the main entrance. To anyone receiving this attending on the 28th, congratulations. To all others, keep that vivid image in your mind of you walking up to collect your award.

Good news on Ranking

Some of you will already be aware that the College did very well on the latest Economist MBA ranking. Our full-time MBA has now been placed 14th in the world (up from 21), fourth in Europe and second in the UK (behind Cambridge). Henley was ranked first for personal development and learning experience. This is excellent news for all the modes of study as it helps cement our reputation, and reinforces the choice you have made.
The FT ranking for this year is also just out. Henley is ranked 42 in the world, which is down on last year, but worth pointing out our position to our main UK competitors hasn’t changed as they also slipped, partly due to the appearance of several new global consortium MBAs.

Optional Skills Workshops

Bookings for this event have been going well, with the Consulting Skills workshop on Saturday just about fully booked. There are still spaces on Sunday and room available on the other workshops, so if you haven’t yet booked for one or more of the workshops, please do so quickly. Workshop booking forms (one for each day) are available in your eLearning area.

Completion statistics from earlier intakes

A while ago I shard with you some statistics on average pass marks, and got the feedback that it was useful. Another often raised question is how many people actually complete their studies, so I thought you might appreciate some statistics on this also. Since it is the ‘not-finishing’ rather than the failing that is the main reason our completion rates are not as high as we want them to be, a lot of energy is going into seeking more ways of keeping you on track to graduate. Of course, much of that quiet, persistent work is done by the course administrators and Personal Tutors.

First, though, I should point out that data on genuine benchmark programme completion rates for our DL competitors is sketchy, particularly as business schools record statistics in different ways. However, it is fair to say that most achieve between 45 and 60% completion. Our aim is to do all we can to get well above that 60%.

The second point is that, inevitably, we are now looking at completion from the older intakes and many innovations, such as Personal Tutors, will only begin to bear fruit in the coming 2 or 3 years.

Caveats in place, let me run through the completion stats for Intakes 10 to 17 which are (respectively), 46%, 57%, 54% 53%, 52%, 48%, 53% and 54%. For Intakes 16 and 17 (the final two in that list) the figure is likely to rise as some of you are now in your second period of re-registration and have or soon will be submitting your dissertations.

Intake 18 has a completion of 48% so far, but 25% of the remainder are still in study. For Intakes 19 and 20 the completion/still-in-study rates are 30%/34% and 25%/38% respectively. What this means is that the potential exists to exceed 60% completion by the time all registration and re-registration has been used.

Naturally, if you are into extra registration time and have not yet submitted your dissertation proposal, you are in real danger of not completing and wasting the time, money and effort you have invested so far. We’d like to do all we can to assist you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from your Personal Tutor. Personal Tutor support is withdrawn after 60 months and a request for further re-registration at that time is only granted for those who have started work on their dissertation.

Intake 33

Welcome to all of you reading this from Intake 33, which completed the Starter Workshop in October. At the risk of making this newsletter too statistical, I can tell you that there are 75 new members enrolled, their average age is 35, they have an average of nearly 13 years work experience, just over eight of which is in management. The group is 30% female and has representation from 16 nationalities.

Recruitment for January

Our next new Intake is due to come online in January, with a February workshop. As ever, and as witnessed by so many on Intake 33, word-of-mouth is the best marketing tool and I’d like to encourage (if not insist…) that you look around you at colleagues and friends for potential candidates. Just to remind you also that the College has a referral scheme which pays you a commission for each person you tell us about who then applies and joins.

We’ll also be at the World MBA fair at Westminster [The QEII Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE] this Saturday October 28th (3 – 6) if anyone you know would like to meet us.

Intake 24

As we are doing with each Intake, there will be a dinner at the College for the (I always want to say ‘surviving’) members of Intake 24. It’s a great opportunity to come back into the College and catch up on dissertation progress, meet personal tutors and hear from the Principal. Dates for Intakes 25, 6 and 7 will be made available for next year.

Dissertation Clinic

One more Dissertation Clinic to run this year, on December 1st. The administrator to contact if you’d like to come along is Kim Harris.

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An Sharp Intake of…

This weekend is the Starter Workshop for the new group of Distance Learning MBAs. We had 74 people in, a terrific recruitment result and a really good first day. I really like the mix we get and am enjoying developing the format so that we can really engage them with Henley and begin to frame their learning in a helpful way.

My favourite part was telling a long and convoluted story about a manager who decides to take some extra time after a training to reflect on what he had learnt. In so many words, he walks up a mountain spends a week there and then walks down. I end the story with what appears to be a simple yes/no question about his ascent/descent. Invariably, there is a split in the group amongst those who answer one way or the other (or decide they don’t know) and we have a really good debate where I invite one side to try and convince the other. I suspect some of the group are still suffering with working it out.

Some people were 100% convinced they knew the answer (both people who thought yes and those who thought no), but most were unable to commit. What was even more interesting was that there was invariably little anyone could do to change the opinion of others. All the more interesting as I had received a whole set of answers to the question, asked earlier, “What do managers do?” which included replies such as ‘persuade others’ and ‘make decisions’…!

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Yesterday I was able to join a really interesting session, delivered by a guest academic from Manchester Business School, on Qualitative Research methods. It was very useful to pick up some ideas on this, partly to be in a better-informed position when advising Henley MBAs, and also to inform myself for my own future studies and development.

A lot of isms and ists were being bandied around, and occasionally I was lost (and also occasionally I wasn’t alone in being lost!), but I was also relieved to hear that very few academics can agree what is what in this field…

For me, the interesting learning was how to define the range(s) of qualitative research methods available, and also the importance of knowing which philosophical assumptions underpin their use. That helped me clarify an approach to understanding how tools as diverse as ‘template analysis’, ‘metaphors’, ‘discourse analysis’ and even ‘blogs’ can be used to answer different research questions.

By the way, when I asked my partner the light-bulb question, she immediately hit back with “It doesn’t matter, just as long as the light-bulb has been interviewed first.”

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I just completed my assessed work for the Henley Coaching Certificate and have handed in my portfolio, including my 3,000 word reflective assignment and evidence of coaching feedback.

It has been a really good course, partly down to the very high level of trainer facilitation. There are two other elements that made it worthwhile. One was the feeling that I was doing it with the right set of fellow participants, and was learning from them. The other was the unstructured but clear method used. This course was built around the presupposition that a good coach is someone who understands themselves, and that journey of self-awareness was at the heart of the programme.

Anyway, now I await the verdict of the assessors.

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September e-newlsetter

Hello all,

I remember my fist visit to Henley as a DL MBA student, which was at this time of year back in 1994. Aside from the grand drive to the front entrance, what impressed me about the place was a sense of stately courtesy, quiet bustle and what felt like layer upon layer of tried and trusted procedures and programmes. My guess, and it is just a guess, is that were I to attend my first workshop now, in 2006, I might form exactly the same first impressions. There is something quite reassuring about that, I suppose.

However, I also know that, busily, if mostly behind the scenes, people have been working on a lot of changes. Now as we move into the autumn, these will begin to manifest themselves and you will begin to see the benefits. Some, such as the strengthening of the faculty into Schools of Thought, you already know something about. There are others that you may never be aware of, such as the operational reorganisation of the IT support, the teams of administrators, and other databases and systems behind the programme you are on. Still others, such as the planned improvements in study channels and development of the MBA curriculum itself, will be experienced over the coming 12-18 months. As they are rolled out, I will endeavour to keep you all informed.

Workshop Activity

This month’s newsletter precedes an October full of DL MBA workshops at the College, with every Intake from 27 to the new arrivals 33 spending some time here. Intake 33, which will also have a group on the Project Management MBA, is looking very much like meeting target numbers.

Follow-up on Annual Questionnaire

I have asked the Course Administrators – Susan, Natalie and Charlotte – to post on each intake’s eLearning area (for Intakes pre 29, in the ‘Administration’ area, and for 29 onwards in ‘Programme Information’) a Word document which summarises all the quantitative and qualitative results from the annual questionnaire. I gave you some of the data from this in last month’s newsletter, but this is a fuller picture. Extra copies will be circulated via email to the Course Reps and added to the ”Matters Arising” in November’s Course Reps meeting.

Optional Skills Workshops – more information

Our plans for November 18th and 19th are now complete. Just to remind you, on November 18th and 19th there will be a chance to attend up to four different half-day workshop sessions on a variety of topics. These are An Introduction to the Career Services and Interview Skills, Consultancy Skills, Business Modelling, an Introduction to NLP, Research Methods, Coaching and Mentoring and Resume Writing.

A post-script to this is my request to hear from any of you who work in HR or who have to deal with a lot of CVs/resumes. I am putting together the final parts of my half-day workshop on the subject for the Skills Weekend, and would like to be giving practical support, so I would like to ask a few pertinent questions of people who deal professionally or frequently with managers’ resumes. Please email me if you have a little time. Thanks!

Changes to Part Three Exam

Starting with the December 2006 sitting the Part Three exam format be change. As there are no DL Intakes due to sit the exam in December, there will be plenty of time for familiarisation to the new format at scheduled exam preparation workshops. Some of you, though, may need to sit the exam in December and your Administrator should have contacted you by now to inform you of a special exam preparation workshop being organised.

Full details of the new structure can be found in the Part Three exam guide online, but the highlights are: a pre-seen single case study (as in Parts One and Two), a larger set of unseen questions on the day, some of which are compulsory, some of which you may choose between, subjects examined are Strategic Direction (50%), Strategic Financial Analysis (20%) and Business Transformation (30%). The exam will last three hours and have 15 minutes question reading time. You will be allowed to prepare and bring notes, but only one sheet of A4 (both sides). This sheet may be used as an appendix and if referred to in your answers may also count toward your marks (thus making the inclusion of financial calculations in your answers an easier process than now).

Dissertation Clinic

For those of you who are at the stage of Part Three where you are focused on the dissertation but have not yet had a proposal accepted and tutor assigned, there is another Clinic organised for October 26th. The Clinic is a chance to come and receive a boost, talk to a tutor and get on, or back on, track.

Some who is who stuff

Over the past few months, there have been some personnel changes in various areas of the College. Since you may meet (or have met) some of these people at workshops or online, I thought I’d end this month’s newsletter with a few names. Marc Day has been appointed Director of Studies for the Executive Full-time MBA, taking over from Martin Burridge. Lynn Thurloway is now Subject Area Leader (SAL) for Dissertations, replacing Susan Rose, who is now SAL for Marketing. Liz Houldsworth is new SAL for Managing People and Performance, taking over from Lynn. Trevor Long has replaced Scott Lichtenstein as SAL for Foundations of Management and is also SAL for Dynamics of Management, an exciting and brand new module. Katja Krueckeberg has been appointed as Programme Leader for the Executive Evening MBA.

Finally, Paul Aitken and Wolfgang Amann are new SALs for Leadership & Change, and Reputation and Relationships respectively. For completeness, I should also mention that Jon Morton, Director of Corporate Programmes, is now also the College’s Assistant Principal. Phew!
Looking forward to seeing all of you coming in for workshops next month, and to meeting the new Intake for the first time.

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