Archive for September, 2007

September e-newlsetter

Dear all,

It’s an autumnal end to the month here at the College, with a mix of days alternating between bright and blustery and misty and overcast. Somehow the grounds seem to shine in all weathers, though it’s not without a lot of work done unseen in the background. Our Principal’s face was equally ebullient yesterday with the news that in the 2007 Economist MBA rankings, which uses our Full-Time programme as its source, has placed Henley in the world’s top 10 for the first time, a rise of four places on last year. This translates to 5th in Europe and 2nd in the UK. In the particular areas of “Potential to Network”, “Personal development” and “Educational experience” we are now ranked number 1 in the world. We came first also in the categories for “Faculty Quality”; “Student Quality” and “Breadth of Alumni Network” and number 2 in the world for both “Increase in salary” and “Final salary”.

This is a very satisfying result and one which, like our pristine grounds, is the result of the hard work of many people in the background. It is also a challenge to us (and you!) to keep it up, and to continue to make this MBA different from the rest.

Aptly, this month’s newsletter is being written at the same time that our newest MBA intake, HB36, are in College for their Starter Workshop. There are 50 managers in this group, and they are now getting to grips with their first module, Dynamics of Management. One really interesting story from this group was the re-uniting after 27 years without meeting, of two former classmates of the same High School in Nigeria. Neither had any inkling that the other had applied to the Henley MBA! As for other news this month:

Thanks to all those who responded to a separate email trialing a new workshop structure (those in intakes HB35 and HB36 and those studying abroad via an associate won’t have received that, sorry) and I’m glad to say that it filled up in about two days. We look forward to seeing you here on October 20th.

Home Straight Community Up-date

September was a good month for the Home Straight Community, with progress made on contacting and engaging with members coming to the end of their registration period, and at least two dozen people who have now submitted their final dissertation for marking. The community will welcome any member of Intake HB27 who has not completed by the end of October and Richard and Mike will be running their second Home Straight Community event at the College on Sunday November 4th. Details of this will be sent to all community members soon. In the meantime, the next dissertation Clinic will be on October 11th. Please contact Susan Parr if you would like to attend.

Leadership and Change Conference

This year’s Full-Time MBA group have been preparing a one-day conference on Leadership and Change as part of their assignment in that subject. The conference, which will be held on November 23rd, “features top key international speakers from industry who will share their exciting experiences and provide deep insights into the challenging and topical subject of Leadership and Change.

The event will include a panel discussion drawing conclusions to take away. Speakers and guests include:

Professor Iain Densten, Lancaster University Management School. Iain will provide the latest research insights into leadership and its relationship to organisational effectiveness, behavioural complexity, communication and organisational culture.
John Morris, Principal Consultant, The Answer Ltd
Karen McKeever, Head of Talent and Leadership Development, DSG International. Karen will provide a perspective from her practical experience of engaging people in a time of cultural and structural change and keeping them engaged through the challenges.
Robert P. Fritz, Vice President, Vestas Constitution, Vestas Wind Systems A/S. Robert will share his exciting story of a successful turn-around, with a huge change management programme addressing corporate culture and financial performance whilst maintaining an impressive growth rate of more than 20% per annum.
Sian Evans, Head of Talent, Premier Foods. Sian will together with Iain Densten, John Morris, Karen McKeever and Robert P. Fritz discuss changes from a practical perspective and round up the conference with some examples of “what-to-do” and “what-not-to-do” in practical Change Management seen from a leader’s perspective.

Optional Skills Workshops

I’m pleased to say that we have finalised the line-up of half-day optional workshops on the weekend of November 17th and 18th. Full details will be available on your eLearning area and also from Susan Parr.

Saturday (morning)
Facilitation Dr Jean-Anne Stuart
Research Methodology Carola Hillenbrand
Consultancy Skills Dr Stephen Simister
Effective Networking Tony Newton or Judith Perle

Sunday (morning)
Consultancy Skills (repeated)
Introduction to NLP Professor Kevin Money
Coaching and Mentoring Dr Richard McBain
Effective Self-Marketing Bill Faust

To book (and numbers are limited in each session), again please contact Susan Parr.

Early results from the Annual Questionnaire

In all, we received 137 completed questionnaires in response to the 2007 Survey, so thank you very much. The report summarising the results will be posted in your intake’s eLearning area. There were marginal improvements in 12 of the 17 questions asking for a rating, including the big question of to what extent overall the programme has met your expectations. There was some very useful and constructive criticism and comments, which have now been shared with various parts and levels of the College.

Quantitative Skills workshop

Please note that the Quantitative Methods Workshop 1 (of 2) has been re-scheduled from the 6th October to 19th November. The workshops could be of benefit to programme members on any MBA programme who are seeking to develop their skills in quantitative analysis.

Only those currently in Part 3 of the Programme will be eligible to attend.

Comings and goings

September saw several long-standing members of faculty and staff leaving, and I wanted to acknowledge a few who you might have come across on the MBA programme. Professor Susan Foreman, who most recently held the post of Director of Open Programme (of which your MBA is one), and who was the first woman ever to be appointed Professor at Henley, has left and will be the new Dean of the Business School at Stafford University. Susan’s replacement is Neil Gibbons. Linda Parham, who was involved in many aspects of managing the introduction of the new MBA curriculum as well as development of the materials in the previous version, is leaving to take up an post in eLearning at the College of Law in London. Also moving on are Helen Innes, who was a course administrator for several Associate Network countries, and Linda Mateus, who helped do about a million tasks connected with electives, elearning and administration.


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HRH = Henley’s Royal Happening

A couple of days ago we had a Royal visitor to the College and I was one of those who was selected to stand in line to be presented after the ceremony unveiling the official opening of the River House Executive Learning Center (not to be confused with a retail business selling children’s toys). The Royal in question was HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, cousin to the Queen (the last bit I add, for a complete picture).

Actually, a really complete picture would include the remark that HRH etc is a really approachable and interested dignitary, although I am probably prejudiced by the fact that in the line-up he stopped and talked (and listened!).

This is the second time I have stood in line to meet a Royal. The first was about 15 years ago in Hungary on the occasion of the Queen’s State visit there. The most interesting things that stood out at that particular meeting were the obvious charisma she has (I don’t know whether the person brought that to the role, or the role brought that to the person) and the very professional way she worked the room, focusing and listening and then moving effortlessly on. HRH etc had the same skills, so one wonders whether the upper classes are given classes in small-talk.

We had had several staff/faculty dress rehearsals and numerous protocol emails and memos on the correct forms of address and suitable forms of dress. Don’t offer your hand till they offer theirs… bow or curtsy if you wish, but no grand gestures… don’t hog the conversation… and so on. Being ‘official’ and ‘important’ is an art as well as a science, and one that might make a good subject of research. George Soros was another who I can attest as having that ability to work a room without actually ever really coming in contact with anyone in it.

Speaking of research, I also found out that Lancaster have located the two halves of my application (after I called them) and are now hunting high and low for a supervisor. Any week now…

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And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

Today is my birthday. It’s not one of those landmark numbers which seem to sit in the collective pysche like gift-wrapped elephants-in-the-room. It’s just 44, which is not so far down the forties to hint at 50, nor so far away from 40 to threaten the need to stop listening to the Clash or looking at members of the opposite sex. But still, it is a good age to reflect on some things. I am currently waiting for a response from Lancaster University’s tardy admissions team about my PhD application, and that does seem like a very grown-up project. And the other day, during an experiential learning exercise in the Starter Workshop for a couple of new MBA intakes, I realised that I have now attained a level of experience and comfort with what I do at work that allows me to have fun with the process and operate at more than one level with a group.

However, it was also at the weekend that a Saturday shop assistant in Boots asked me, quite solemnly as part of a loyalty card upgrade prompted by the computer in front of her, whether I was under 60. She really wasn’t sure.

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Not playing hardball

There are a number of major sporting events going on at the moment. The Rugby World Cup, of course. The Women’s Football World Cup. 20/20 Cricket. Champions League and Euro 2008 Qualifiers.

The Henley Annual Softball Tournament outranks them all.

This is traditionally a hotly contested and sometimes testily fraught nail-biter, with ten-player teams drawn from every section of the College. It is played during early summer on the lovely lawns in front of the main building, with two qualifying groups playing in parallel mini-leagues, the winners of each then facing off in a tense final. However, 2007’s tournament was a victim of the floods and rains of the summer and the re-scheduled date fell in September. On a Friday. This reduced the field of teams from 10 to 4, but the resulting competition was noticeable for how little competition there was.

I have to own up to the fact that my team, Kosta’s Crusaders, came fourth, which is another way of saying last. This blow was lessened by the twin facts that we were the only team to beat the eventual winners, Top of the Ops, and that the winners won by beating the usually all-conquering IT department team, the e-Invincibles.

Other highlights included several home runs from faculty veteran Emilio Herbolzheimer (he never missed the ball) and some ‘quirky’ umpiring decisions by our Principal, including the very dodgy ‘out’ call on my team-mate and his PA, Margy.

Events such as these are part of the glue that sticks the organisation together. It was liberating to listen to the irreverant back-chat (on the field), and the stories of tournaments gone-by (off it). Next year, I sincerely hope that we repeat the experience (though not the coming last bit).

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