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Archive for June, 2010

Dear all,

Programme Director positions at Henley are always for a fixed duration. If they weren’t, either you or the Director would end up going nuts. So the lead, and final, story in this newsletter is the information that I step down as MBA Programme Director, effective from the beginning of July. I remain at Henley in a new position and my successor is already in situ. More about both a little later in the newsletter, which will therefore be the last from me.

And this being so, I thought it worth reflecting a little on the past five years. I got to know Henley in about 1994, first as a sub-contractor working with faculty and staff on MBA study visits to eastern Europe, then as an MBA distance learner, then alumnus and eventually (in my own ‘Victor Kiam’ moment) Henley faculty member and Director of Studies.  The other day I was trying to recall what criteria I had used to select Henley for my degree.  I was based away from the UK and a flexibility to study somewhat (but not entirely) at my own pace  while still at work was attractive, and certainly I liked the practical idea of applying everything immediately at work. In addition, there was Henley’s good reputation and pedigree, and the fact that the degree awarded was the same regardless of mode of study, which made me feel my investment would be in a known brand.  I thought that the general focus of the Henley MBA on strategy sounded more ‘grown-up’ than the functional silos offered by most rival offerings – which indeed turned out to be the case.  Ranking didn’t play a part – I was already working in a Business School and knew that rankings promote  business magazines, and what most people need to is find a programme, not a chart position, that suits them.

I suspect many of the above will find resonance with you, and the fact they are all still current and valid is very reassuring.  Curiously, given the immense effort that went into my study, after graduation I found that not a lot of the detail of MBA content had stuck. True, before finishing the MBA I found myself completely immersed in each new module, layers of my working world in revealed in a new tint, but although it may often be true in life that the “devil is in the detail”, when it comes to the MBA, it does not. What emerged (and endured) in my case were changes in attitude and outlook; above all, Henley was a boost to confidence. 

Back in those days, however, ‘distance’ at Henley often meant ‘alone’ and one of the two things I am most fervent about is the importance placed on learning from fellow members of your intake.  The other is Personal Development, which may prove fortunate given my next role.

Who’s New

I’m pleased to introduce Mike Keighley, who takes over as Programme Director of the Henley MBA by Flexible learning.  Mike has actually been working at Henley for a year in an operational role, and he and Kathy Jarvis form the UK management team for the next academic year. Mike has experience in banking and served for some years as an officer in the military.

Another new programme director is Keith Heron, who takes over from Giampiero Favato, who many of you will know from the Corporate Governance and Finance module, and who is leaving Henley at the end of the summer.  In another change, Baskin Yenicioglu will take over from Ana Canhoto as Subject Area Leader for Strategic Marketing at the end of the academic year.

From the end of September, with the retirement of Tim Osborn-Jones, the new Subject Area Leader for Personal Development will be… me! I am very excited about this chance to continue to develop what is undoubtedly the most important module on the MBA (but then everyone’s own baby is the most special, no?).

Henley on LinkedIn

There’s been a fair amount of activity on the HBS Linkedin Group over the last month or so, and increasing anecdotal evidence that Henley programme members and alumni are using the site as a vehicle for mutual networking, not just window-shopping or displaying and exchanges views on various topics. LinkedIn is slowly introducing improvements to its site, most recently changes in the functionality of the groups area. As for subgroups, we are now looking at setting up one for those of you who work in government or public sector.  Another final plea to anyone requesting membership to have their online profile accurate and up-to-date with your Henley programme and years. There are still about 80 in the queue, mostly for that reason. For now, it will be me that continues to manage the Henley groups.

Research Corner

Programme Member Lindsay Allan (HB39) is undertaking preliminary research for her Management Challenge and is interested in gathering your views on leadership writes: “Take part in worldwide research into organization culture and work.

Lindsay Allen is helping Visiting Fellow, Peter Thomson – who ran the Future Work Forum at Henley for 16 years – carry out some groundbreaking research in collaboration with Cass Business School, London. The research examines organization culture, management attitudes and innovative working practices and will feature in a book to be published next year.  A key part of the project is collection of data through a short questionnaire that takes 10 minutes to complete.   We would like to invite current Henley MBA students to participate in this research by going to [linke removed] and completing the survey by Friday July 23rd. ”

 The ARC unveiled

After several months of building work, phase one of the redevelopment at Greenlands is complete. What was the PowerGen library is now where the builders are hard at work creating a new MBA classroom and syndicate rooms, and the Academic Resource Centre, ARC, now occupies another side of the inner quad area. Under the leadership of the experienced Henley library team, the ARC will develop over the coming months, and you’ll be able to follow them via Twitter and, shortly, their blog.

Ted.com

After missing this in last month’s newsletter, here now are 2 suggestions for interesting videos from the TED web site. First up is the second presentation by Hans Rosling, in 2007, about poverty and statistics. Watch it to the end… http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/hans_rosling_reveals_new_insights_on_poverty.html

The other is archive footage of concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, holding court in 1972 about finding meaning in life:  http://www.ted.com/talks/viktor_frankl_youth_in_search_of_meaning.html.

Members’ Family Day

Only a few days left to this event on Sunday July 4th, so if you are coming, we hope you enjoy the varied activities and relaxed regatta atmosphere. The weather here lately has been fantastic, so with luck it will continue that way.

2010 Annual Survey

Watch out for another email some time during July, inviting you to take part in the annual survey. Last year, we got responses from around 15% of you, which isn’t bad, but since the output report is widely read and circulated, and informs decision-making, it’s worth taking the time to express what you like and don’t like.

End of the academic year – username reminder

As a College, life at Henley rolled by without beginning and end, and on the MBA this is still often the case.  It is also true, however, that the University works on academic year, which closes on July 31st, so this is a gentle reminder to anyone who has not yet logged on to RISIS (e:Vision) and activated their University of Reading user name and password.  At time of merger, the system was set up to continue to allow people to log in using just the e:Vision username only. This will be much more difficult from August. Most of you have already done this.

So, that’s it. It’s been an amazing and complex honour to have been running this MBA, and over the years these monthly newsletters have meandered somewhat, like all good streams of thought should – I hope you have enjoyed them. I look forward to seeing you all at Graduation!

 Chris Dalton

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One of my favourite people is Dr Jonathan Miller, a polymath who excels in media, arts and science. He is one of those thoughtful intellects that you can listen to all day, and he has an eloquent ability to express an argument, expose an idea or expound an enthusiasm. It is perhaps telling, then, that the shortcomings (and I use the word deliberately) of the modern interview format are revealed in all their over-simplicity in this clip on YouTube.

Miller is being interviewed by Matt Stadlen and the gimmick is that the interviewer tries to get as much as they can out of the interviewee in just five minutes. There’s an over-size alarm clock ticking away to illustrate this for those who need reminding. The format usually translates to quick-fire questions and even quicker-fire answers. The format is built on this and the irony of this interview is nicely illustrated at the end, when the inexplicably chuckly yet exasperated Matt (who I’m sure is inwardly enjoying the sight of his questions actually not being dealt with in an off-hand manner) says “I have to say that some of those answers were the longest we’ve ever had on Five Minutes, but I let you get away with it.”

His response? “It’s just that I like to take time to think something out… almost anything interesting takes time. It’s only the trivial and the idiotic that can be done immediately.”

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Dear all,

because of the Bank Holiday in the UK yesterday, May’s newsletter is actually coming to you in June. The conflagration of technology, work practices, rolling onslaught of data from many different sources and perceived mantra always to be “doing more and more with less and less” is so much a theme in the World’s stricken economies at the moment Most, if not all, Henley MBAs will not only be familiar with the pressure always to be on-tap, but will (I suspect) also be struggling to come to terms with finding the right balance between what pays the bills and what paying the bills allows you to do. We talk a lot about “work-life balance”, a rather odd phrase really; why would the alternative to work be life?

Nevertheless, the temptation to work on this newsletter and other Henley matters over the holiday weekend was certainly there, and I’m probably not the only one in the Henley food chain who had to force themselves not to be looking at e-mails or reading minutes of internal meetings (or any one of the hundreds of at-work activities that seem to follow us around these days) in my time off.

I’ve reflected in these newsletters in the past on more than one occasion that one of the benefits of choosing Henley either as a place of study or as a place of work is its ability (should one need it) to instil a tranquillity or afford a space to, well, just take one’s time and, if one is brave enough, switch off the mobile, fold down the laptop and just watch the river (and your own thoughts) gently flowing by. It is still an ambition of mine one day to start something akin to the Italian Slow Food Movement, but this time call it the Slow Learning Movement, though it is perhaps reassuring that it appears to be taking a very long time to get off the ground. I have big plans for it (perhaps post PhD), however.

Henley on LinkedIn

I’m glad to see that numbers are still steadily growing, and I wanted to let you know that a new subgroup has been formed – the “Henley subgroup on Energy”, the aim of which is to link energy professionals who have shared the Henley experience. The link to the group is here: http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/3072488/, but please remember that you need to join the main group first, and in order to do that your profile should be fully up-to-date.

Several of you have also pointed out that there appear to be a great number of Henley Management College or Henley Business School alumni /special interest groups on LinkedIn, and it’s not always clear whether a group is “official” or not. Since LinkedIn cannot know and doesn’t discriminate in the formation of groups and subgroups, there is probably no easy way around this. However, the Henley Business School main group has the University of Reading Henley logo, my name as owner and in excess of 5,100 members, so should be easy to spot.

Research corner

No entries in Research corner for this month, but please remember if you do have a survey that you want tested or you are looking for any other kind of assistance in your research for your dissertation or Management Challenge projects, I’m more than happy to advertise those here.

Family day

The annual Family Day event at Henley, which in the past has run on a Saturday, this year is scheduled for Sunday July 4th, and details can be found here http://www.henley.reading.ac.uk/alumni/Events/hbs-040710-event.aspx

Who’s who

In order to support the MBA programme delivery, a review of the structure of the MBA administration teams within the School of Management has been taking place over the last few months.  Below are the key changes which might affect you in your dealings with Henley: 

  • Marcia Doughty heads up our MBA operational delivery and is now “Programme Operations Manager”. The MBA Programme Administrators work in two teams each led by a Programme Coordinator, who reports to Marcia. 
  •  The Flexible Programmes team is responsible for the day-to-day administration of our Henley Based and liaison among International MBAs and will be led by Susan Parr. Susan Parr also becomes a dedicated contact for our Denmark, Sweden and Finland partners.
  • Responsibilities within the Flexible MBA team are now as follows:

Charlotte Ordish –  Hong Kong, HB36, 39, 42 & 45 (due to start in Sept 10)

Natalie Swadling – New Zealand, HB35, 38, 41 & 44

Sue Thomas –      Germany (Munich), HB34, 37

Deb Burdett – Ireland, Malta, South Africa, Trinidad, Greece/Cyprus

Susan Parr  will retain admin support for HB40 & HB43. 

  • At Greenlands the role of the two MBA Programme Managers (Alison Llewellyn – Taught, Kathy Jarvis – Flexible) is to support the Programme Directors in the longer term planning, scheduling, resource management and progression tracking of the programmes. 
  • Outside the UK, the excellent support teams that you deal with directly in your own country remain unchanged.

 About the Dean search, which I mentioned last month, I can confirm that the University has now identified and offered the position to one preferred candidate, and that final negotiations (which necessarily preclude the possibility of announcing a name at the moment) are well underway.

New Homepage

Many of you will already have noticed that the Henley Business School homepage has undergone a facelift, which is part of a bigger projects to reinvigorate Henley’s website. The link to access HenleyConnect is now at the very top of the page, so this new position might take a little bit of getting used to.

New intake – old intakes

Next week we will be welcoming a new intake on the flexible MBA at Henley, HB44, which will contain also this year’s International Stream cohort. At the moment it’s looking pretty good that we will exceed our target of 60 new members, and this will be the last group that we admit in the current academic year. We’re already looking ahead to 2010-11, which will be an interesting year for Henley because we will be into our third full period as a merged unit of the University and therefore should be able to begin to judge some of the impact each entity has had on the other.

Finally, quite a number of you close to the end of available time for your MBA studies will have received a separate e-mail from me in May regarding important points to remember in order to cross the finishing line with your degree. The e-mails were sent via Kathy Jarvis, MBA Programme Manager, and I’d like to thank all of those who responded — an overwhelming postbag which may take us some time to get through.

June’s newsletter will, I promise, get to you before the end of the month. Good luck to anybody sitting an exam this week, and to anybody intrigued by the idea of Slow Learning I look forward to a leisurely debate on the subject in the months and years to come.

Chris Dalton

Programme Director

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