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Archive for August, 2008

August e-newsletter

Dear all,

We’re coming to the end of our first month as Henley Business School. HBS. I’m probably not the only one biting my tongue occasionally when out slips the word ‘College’ in a sentence, but we’re all getting more used to referring to ourselves in our new format. Mind you, it has been a shock to discover that August is not a month to get anything done in a university; quite a few new processes and practices will emerge only from next month onwards. I’ll try to provide up-dates to some of those as we go along.

So, what does it feel like? For me, it’s a bit too early to tell. I still arrive at work and am able to acknowledge how lucky I am to be working here (even on the bad days). We have a big chance with the merger to examine who we are, what we do and where we are going, and that is both welcome and necessary. At the same time, you have to keep the existing programmes going, and that can be frustrating in a handover period where new structures are not yet set, or not set concretely. So, a briefer than usual letter this month (no river tales)…

Henley Business School on LinkedIn

The group that 3,019 people have so far joined on LinkedIn has now been renamed and is also now benefiting from some increased functionality that LinkedIn have introduced (from today) to their group environment. You can now initiate and participate in a discussion forum with other members of the group, as well as clearer updates and a more user-friendly way to contact other group members. John Kenworthy has already started a discussion thread there, so you can go in and contribute to test the system.

A pocket who’s who

The merger has acted somewhat like a closed season football transfer period, and we have some new faces on the MBA bench. In the new structure there are five ‘Schools’ (Management, Economics, Real Estate & Planning, ICMA and Corporate Learning). Professor John Hendry is Head of the School of Management (and Deputy Principal of Henley Business School). Neil Gibbons, who was Director of Open Programmes, which includes the distance learning MBA, has moved to head up Business Development for HBS. We are waiting to see who will replace him but that person will be working directly with John. Directors of Study for the three modes of study for the MBA are unchanged (myself, Susan Rose and Marc Day). Each module on the MBA has a faculty member who is the subject area leader and there have been one or two changes to these in recent months. For example, Claire Collins is now SAL for the Leadership and Change module in Stage 3. In administration, David Stannard is Faculty Director of Administration, which includes many of the registrar functions. I’m very glad to say that the teams of staff who work most closely with programme members in support areas remain unchanged. Liz Cope has joined me as PA, so anyone with a non-programme related issue can also go to her.

Home Straight News

The next Home Straight meeting (for Henley-Based members who are beyond their due date for Dissertation submission) is on Sunday October 19th, one day after the graduation ceremony. Anyone coming to this will see the giant marquee still standing – hopefully this is simply spur you on to finish. Details will be coming to you from Mike and Richard in due course.

Annual Survey

At time of writing, over 350 of you have so far completed the 2008 Annual survey (a big increase compared to 2007!). This will remain open to you to complete until Sept 15th, so if you haven’t yet, you can. I’ll have preliminary results of this survey in September’s newsletter.

Upcoming new Intakes

Recruitment for the next Henley-Based intake, HB39, and also for the Nordic (Denmark and Sweden) and Finnish groups has been brisk and we are looking forward to welcoming some large groups here at the end of next month. Thanks to anyone who has been doing their own, quiet marketing among colleagues and friends – it’s the strongest form of selling for a programme like this.

Good luck to all of you sitting an exam in September, wherever you may be in the world.

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Back in Lancaster

I have travelled up from Oxford to Lancaster for a meeting with my doctoral supervisors. I chose to come by train mainly to have some extra reading time. This feels like a luxury when it’s supposed to be a staple of this kind of studies. Sometimes it even feels like a guilty pleasure. So I will need to find ways of taming the all-enveloping demands of the Director of Studies role in order to make way for a more organised approach and settle into my topic. I’m constructing my preface, my angle, and also am developing some pilot research protocols (which just means writing down how I will find some human lab rats to experiment on).

The train journey was, in many respects, useful and not unpleasant. Mind you, Virgin trains haven’t cracked the seat reservation problem and many people who boarded after me were unable to get seats, despite having reservations, because others (also with reservations) had sat in their places because they in turn had found other already in their place when they boarded. Just the kind of complex knock-on problem that management schools love to say they equip you to deal with.

However, I am beginning to suspect that most business schools don’t do this because, at least in part. they have lost common-sense in how people learn, and how they learn how to learn (as well as learn how to unlearn).

So, I’m taking the rest of today and most of tomorrow to sit in front of my keyboard and begin telling a story. But before I do that (PhD I think stands for Procrastinate, Hinder, Distract) , a personal thought did strike me on the train. I was reading about the Ancestor Syndrome and hidden links across generations in families that allow patterns to occur and re-occur, subside and repeat. A paragraph spoke of ‘school failure among intelligent children’ and I suddenly remembered that my father never completed his formal training to be an architect (he studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, but never graduated). I, too, failed to complete my formal education, leaving college at 17. Perhaps it’s nothing. I’d be curious to know whether my father’s father had a similar story, though.

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