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Archive for September, 2009

Dear all,
 
After a month off, the newsletter is back and this one is packed to bursting with interesting stuff, but first I hope you’ll indulge me in some attempt to connect you to Henley.
 
Let me paint you the picture. We’ve been enjoying a couple of weeks of classic English indian summer, with blue skies populated by the occasional Red Kite, warm day-time breezes, cool evenings and still, misty mornings. The leaves are beginning to turn, creating a palette of colours to reflect in the steely, smooth of the Thames, where teams of rowers practice and train, followed closely by their coaches on bicycles. Lunches are eaten with the doors of the Hayworth Room open to the sun and air, and the benches and parkland have been more enticing for meetings that the break out rooms. The monastic concentration of those working on assignments in the library contrasts to the labour being put into the renovation of Thames court bedrooms, and other building and repair activities. Indeed, for much of the month, Henley has been a quiet buzz of activity, all managed with quiet efficiency by the catering, hotel and administration staff. That buzz of background activity is actually what creates the tranquillity for members on programmes here, of course, and that’s exactly what helps make Henley special as soon as you rumble across the cattle grid.
 
October is going to be even busier, and although no doubt the weather will shift and the days darken earlier, the same magic will be here. The marquee for the graduation will be the next sign of where we are in the ‘learning’ season.
 
The Annual Survey 2009
 
In excess of 300 of you responded to the annual survey, which is a fantastic response rate. Thank you. I have been collating the results and looking through the hundreds of comments made in order to create a summary. Once this is done, I will be posting a file on each intake’s HenleyConnect under Programme Support with the aggregated scores, (including comparisons to scores from 2008 and 2007).
 
This year you reported increased levels of satisfaction in 11 areas surveyed (including how you feel about the content, scheduling and structure of the MBA) and falls in 6 others (including tutor support). So while the general trend is up, there are areas that we need to improve on. We will examine individual comments to see where there are specific ideas or issues we can deal with.
 
LinkedIn
 
I’m pleased to say that the group is making more friends and is likely to top 5,000 members before the end of the year. We now have two sub-groups forming. One is an alumni group focused on Leadership of Organisational Change, and is being managed by Mike Green and Situl Shah, while the other is interested in gathering entrepreneurs or those with an interest in entrepreneurship, and this is managed by Ines Kaps-Mladenhoff.
 
As ever, if you would like to join the Henley Linkedin community, please make sure that your profile is up-dated and accurate. For anyone starting their MBA after August 2008, this should include referring to us as Henley Business School.
 
Home Straight Community
 
Mike and Richard are gearing up to run their second gathering this year, which will be on Sunday October 18th. Of course, this is just a day after the graduation ceremony, so they have the wonderful draw of the marquee and empty champagne bottles to spur those working through the dissertation. This event is open to Henley-based candidates who are very much behind on their work at the end of the programme.
 
Elective News
 
One quick point I’d like to make now (and will repeat over coming months) is to announce that last year’s successful International Business Environment elective, which was a study week in Hungary, will be repeated in March 2010. Details are in the elective area on HenleyConnect, but it would be great to get a full complement of participants. The week commences from Sunday March 7th and concludes on Friday 12th. I will be leading the trip, under the tutelage of Prof Emilio Herbolzheimer.
 
Good ideas Corner
 
No-one has emailed me during September to ask me to promote their research for the MBA, so I’m launching a new item to showcase some of the neater suggestions and hints that have come across my desk during the month. Feel free to send in more….
 
With thanks to Woz Ahmed, a tip for anyone who has chosen to activate their University of Reading username and password is that doing so also entitles you to discounted software purchases. Activating your UoR username allows you also to login to the wi-fi on campus, view your (automatically created) student email account on RISISweb (where you can set a rule to forward any mail the university sends you) and access the online learning resources. All this is in addition, of course, to the resources you already use on HenleyConnect.
 
Another great tip, actually one that was mentioned before, is the TED web site. Subtitled “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”, this site contains a whole bank of high-quality video presentations by some very accomplished speakers, so visit www.ted.com to see more. For example, this talk, by Dr Oliver Sacks, got my interest.
 
New Intakes
 
At the end of September I was privileged to be in South Africa for the second time this year to launch the Henley MBA. This was not because it didn’t work first time round, rather this was our second intake, which I think shows the tremendously exciting potential of southern Africa in business education as well as being proof of the dedication of the Henley team there. Late last week we welcomed our newest Henley-Based intake, HB42, which numbered 56 members. Of these, 16 were beginning the Project Management MBA. Tomorrow we see the latest groups from Denmark and Sweden coming here for Dynamics of Management.
 
Events
 
From the alumni team, here are three up-coming events in the UK. If you know of any November/December events likely to interest members where you are, please let me know during October, and let’s make this less UK-centric.
 

  • 8 October 2009 – London & SE Alumni Group Annual Dinner at the Athenaeum, London. We will be having a guest speaker, who will be introduced on the night and are also delighted to announce that Chris Bones and the alumni team will be joining us as guests. A great opportunity to network and dine in fine surroundings. Partners and business guests welcome. Numbers will be limited to 65.
  • 02 November 2009 – Pharma Forum Winter Meeting – “Customer Marketing Challenges in Pharmaceuticals” with Professor Merlin Stone, leading expert on direct and relationship marketing, customer care, customer loyalty and customer information systems and speaker at the forthcoming Chartered Institute of Marketing Annual Conference – at One Alfred Place, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7EB. 
  • 12 November 2009 – Keynote Lecture Lecture Series 2009 with Ian Powell Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers on 12th November 2009.
  •  
    Who’s News
     
    I promised, but never delivered, a proper introduction to Kathy Jarvis, who took up position as Programme Manager for the Flexible MBA (I’m getting used to this) in July. Kathy was previously the manager of the admissions office at Henley, which has helped tremendously as she is already familiar with many aspects of the MBA.  Kathy was replaced in that post by Catherine Boyle.
     
    You will probably all have heard by now that in September Chris Bones announced that he would be standing down as Dean of Henley Business School at the end of the academic year, next July. The University has already begun the dean search, and I’ll keep you informed as and when I hear anything officially.
     
    Congratulations to all those reading this who are about to graduate this month, and fingers crossed to all of you waiting to hear about your exam results after the Programme Examiners meeting at the end of October.
     
    Chris

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    Every now and again, there is an article in one of the UK broadsheets about cycle couriers. The Guardian has just run this article, and reading it makes me wonder why, if people are interested, they don’t read how tough it really was “back in the day”…

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    "The Liffey Swim (1923) - Yeats

    "The Liffey Swim (1923) - Yeats

    Back from Dublin at the weekend, where I ran a workshop for one of the MBA intakes to focus them on writing their big Stage Two assignment, the Integrated Management Project. It was a pleasure to be there and see our Irish partner, the Irish Management Institute (IMI), which is housed in a concrete and glass building that one suspects was recognisably of its time when built and which may well be considered a great example of that school of architecture in the future, but which hasn’t quite weathered its environment yet. Like Henley in the UK, the IMI is a free-standing and independent venture in talks with a university (Cork) for merger.

    On the way back to the UK I had some time on a lovely September afternoon to walk around the city centre. With the second vote on the Lisbon Treaty coming up in a couple of weeks, there was hardly a lamppost in the town that did not have at least one or two posters campaigning “No” or “Yes”. It appeared to me that the yes vote was slightly more dominant, and this appears to be the opinion of those I spoke to as well. The initial no was delivered on the back of some slick and impassioned campaigning by Libertas (now more or less absent from the debate) and a coalition of “fundamentalist Catholic” (a term to send shivers down the spine) groups.  The latter are still vocal but the argument seems to have swung another way following the economic collapse of the Celtic Tiger. The other thing that everyone there is talking about is NAMA (National Asset Management Agency), which is the Irish Government’s plan to deal with the credit crunch in property by buying up the portfolios of the major Irish Banks. The controversy revolves, of course, around the price of this since no-one wants to compensate the banks and developers for the speculative property boom that Ireland went through.

    On the way through the city centre I picked up a copy of Meda Ryans’ book “the day Michael Collins was shot”, which details the week or so around the ambush and which has quite a lot of testimony from Emmet Dalton. Then, as I was crossing the Liffey on O’Connell bridge I was in time to see the  200 or so swimmers in the 90th annual Liffey swim make their way against the tide to the finish line. Quite a crowd of onlookers formed to see them go by and a couple of German tourists asked me “how long is the swim?” Since one of  our MBA programme members that I had done the workshop with that morning works in the Dublin Fire Brigade, and was one of the organisers of the day (providing the decontamination showers at the end) I was able to tell them that is was over 2km. “Ah, not so long” was the reply, at which I felt the ancestral need to defend the grandness of the task. “It is against the tide,” I added, staring him down until and forcing a grudging semblance of being impressed onto his face.

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    Just got back from Johannesburg, where we launched what is Henley’s second MBA intake this year in South Africa.  They were a really friendly group and it was great fun to do, and I can’t help noticing that somehow wherever they are in the world, the people who choose this programme seem to have several things in common. Perhaps it’s a maturity of outlook that comes with age, or maybe a determination to extract every ounce or gramme of value from being there. Whatever the cause, the result has got to be every adult educator’s dream to work with.

    On the journey back I managed to drop two bottles of duty-free alcohol onto the stone floor in the gents’ toilet at Heathrow. Luckily, next to a sink, but it was distressing to see all that whisky go to waste!

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