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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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Dear All,

How did Eyjafjallajökull affect you? Were you left unmoved (as in stranded), cursing its unpronounceable existence? Or were you unmoved (as in it unaffected), left in peace simply to enjoy (probably for the first time in your life) the realisation of a sky blue and clear of all traffic? Or are you wondering what on Earth Eyjafjallajökull is? Lucky you.

Like others at Henley, I guess I belonged initially to the group which stared up in muted puzzlement, looking for the (invisible) ash and thinking how lovely it looked. As the days went by, though, several other intangibles became more ‘visible’. The obvious one was the extent to which we just take jet travel for granted. I don’t think we really realised how much flying gets done, and how much gets done by flying. I’m not that old, but even when I was younger, travel across Europe by plane was not automatically the most obvious or affordable choice; journeys more often resembled the patchwork of ground-routes and adventures that many of those who were left without a way to fly home during the air-space closure experienced. Another, related, revelation has been the homogenisation of distance that the airlines and the Internet have helped create. Getting quickly almost anywhere and getting instantly almost any information have become commonplace ideas within our grasp, unless, of course, you are one of the1.2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day. At the back of our corporate, global minds, this last point must be a salient one, though it is also a ‘can of worms’.

I’m sure these thoughts, and others, were on the minds of the numerous faculty members and Henley MBA Programme Members temporarily marooned (often near beaches and swimming pools, funnily enough) around the world, and perhaps they will percolate into discussions about creating a more sustainable definition of business.

Meanwhile, back at Henley, our late spring has firmly arrived and we’re seeing the grounds and surrounding countryside coming into their best. By the time the marquee goes up for the graduation in a couple of weeks time, I hope the woodlands will still be carpeted by wonderful Bluebells and the Wisteria on Engine House in full floral flow (tip: great backdrop for the Graduation photo before tea on the lawn). 

Henley on Linkedin

Having reached the 5,000 mark, we have reached a small plateau this month with fewer new sign-ups. Nevertheless, there are still about 50 pending requests to join in my inbox, and most of them are waiting for their authors to up-date their Linkedin Profile with accurate details of the Henley Programme. Without that, no-one else in the group has a handle on who is who. So if you do want to request membership of the group, only do so if you have placed Henley in your profile first. Thanks.

Research Corner

Full-time Programme Member Jan Kodadek is running a research survey and writes “I am part of a team who are researching a new business opportunity in the United Kingdom market. We are seeking the thoughts and opinions on fashion, from women of any nationality, who live in the UK.  I would appreciate if you’d help by completing this extremely short, anonymous survey – we are looking for responses by Friday 7th May. www.surveymonkey.com/s/handbagshoesurvey ”. 

Jan’s survey is also a link in the discussions area on Linkedin, as is Henley alumnus David Monk’s new project, www.thinktankpolitics.co.uk which allows you to explore your agreement various political parties’ manifesto statements without letting you know which party they’re from (though I think it tells you afterwards).

And, if you are looking for one, Linda Thorne linda.thorne@henley.com has a number of potential topics for Management Challenge projects. Contact her for details. Each project has a company willing to sponsor and facilitate the project. Alternatively, if you’re in survey mode on your own Dissertation or Management Challenge and need to access respondents who match the profile of fellow learners, then you can always advertise that here.

Results from last month’s poll

I mentioned that I had placed a poll on my blog asking about your attitudes to using Learning Journals for reflection. You can still visit this poll and take part, but I thought you’d also be interested to know what the results have been. Here are the four statements, with the %:

The question was: “Which of the following statements most reflects your opinion about Learning Journals on the Henley MBA?”

  1.  They have become an intrinsic part of my learning on the Henley MBA.                (22%)
  2. They should be an intrinsic part of my learning, but somehow I never get round to writing.    (48%)
  3. I’ll write them, but it doesn’t yet feel natural and I’m not really enjoying it.   (22%)
  4. Frankly, I don’t get what they’re for, and although I sometimes read other people’s, I won’t be doing this myself.     (9%)

 Encouraging that nearly a quarter of respondents are hooked, though I’d like a bigger sample size (hint, hint).

  New lick of paint

 The Bar Common Room and the Chiltern Room at Greenlands have both now been repainted in preparation for the next phase, which will see new carpets, curtains and seating. Yes, gone will be the days when, after a long workshop, members could sink into one of the green chairs and then continue sinking. Gone, too, is the infamous graffiti behind the pictures which were hanging on the walls.

 Events coming up

 With thanks to Amanda Proddow, here are a few selected highlights of forthcoming events (most in the UK, so if you have news of something in your region, let me know, or publicise it on LinkedIn):

  •  19 May 2010: “Innovation in Healthcare: the Route to Saving £20Bn?” – Healthcare Special Interest Group event, Clydesdale Bank, London EC2V 7QQ Speakers: Jim Dawton, Designit UK; Andrew Rudd, Andrew Rudd Consulting and Peter Ellingworth, ABHI.
  • 20 May 2010: eBusiness SIG – with Natalie Turner, CEO of entheo, a leadership innovation network, at the British Bankers Association, Pinners Hall, London EC2N 1EX.
  • 20 May 2010 – the Annual Belbin Award Keynote Lecture – ‘The food industry is a great place to work’ with Justin King, Chief Executive of J Sainsbury plc . Professor Meredith Belbin will be in attendance.
  • 26 May 2010 – Career Development Service – Evening event Optimising Linked-in, Job Search and Research – the latest cutting-edge strategies at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 27 May 2010: RREF Breakfast Forum – ‘The London 2012 Olympic Story’ – with Chair Duncan Innes, Director of Real Estate, Olympic Legacy Company and speakers Lawrence Chadwick, former Development Director, Grosvenor, currently working with Newham London on the legacy implications of the 2012 Olympics and Ralph Luck, Director of Property, Olympic Delivery Authority.
  • 02 June 2010: “Growing People – a Leadership Journey” – with Dame Mary Marsh, Director of Clore Social Leadership Programme. Henley Third Sector Network event, Henley Business School, Greenlands campus.
  • 8 June 2010: Career Development Service – Evening event Gavin Sanderson, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP gives an insight to life at PwC at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 15 June 2010: Career Development Service – Evening event Don Leslie, Director, Management Consultancy Recruitment Division from Beament Leslie Thomas will present MBAs & Management Consultancy at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 17 June 2010: Leadership of Organisational Change SIG: ‘Leading Organisational Change Through Conversations’ – with Richard Hordern, Client Director, Henley Business School. Venue: British Bankers Association, Pinners Hall, London EC2N 1EX.
  • 19 June 2010: Henley Alumni Germany: Top Event with Henley’s Moira Clark. – For full details please see: www.ha-g.de/
  • 22 June 2010 – The London & SE Group – Summer Garden Party An opportunity to bring your partners and guests to a networking event in the gardens of the Athaenaeum, London.
  • 4 July 2010 – Members’ Day – Bookings will open mid-May. If you would like to receive an invitation, please email us on: alumni@henley.com
  • 6 July 2010: Career Development Service – Evening event Senior level executive search with Eric Salmon & Partners at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 8 July 2010: Career Development Service – ½ day workshop CV Building at Greenlands, Henley.
  • 9-11 July 2010: Cranfield MBA Regatta 2010 – If you would like to join the Henley sailing team to compete against and beat other leading business schools.
  • 28 July 2010: The Lord Chamberlain’s Men perform an outdoor production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Henley Business School, Greenlands Campus. 
  • 24 September 2010: Henley Golf Day – Sonning Golf Club. Calling all golfers! Join us for the 5th Henley Golf Challenge for an 18 hole Stapleford competition.

Who’s Who, Who’s New?

 The search for the new Dean of Henley Business School has been going on in the background and although I cannot reveal any details (inasmuch as I don’t know many) I can confirm that the selection panel has completed its first round and is finalising a short-list of candidates for the final round.  As soon as there is some word on this, I will pass it on.

 Good practice – Bragg and TED

 Here in the UK, on Radio 4 (and one way of knowing whether you’re old enough to be doing a Henley MBA is whether you have started listening to Radio 4 instead of Radio 1) there is a weekly broadcast on science, culture, philosophy and the arts, made by veteran broadcaster Melvyn Bragg. The show has been running for some years, and one reason for mentioning this now is to highlight that the BBC have just placed every show on an archive at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/in-our-time/.  Another reason it to encourage you to sign up to Melvyn’s personal weekly newsletter, which often features his walks through St James Park in London.

 And this month’s TED.com viewing tip? Try this one at http://www.ted.com/talks/catherine_mohr_builds_green.html, a talk recorded in February by Catherine Mohr, which looks at decisions she made in building a new house using, or trying to use, sound environmental decisions, and a good debate starter.

 That’s all for April, then.

 Chris Dalton

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Dear all,
For the fourth year in a row, I have been writing this newsletter from Johannesburg on the eve of a starter workshop for a new intake here.  Only South Africa’s still awful Internet provision has prevented me sending it out before arrivig back in the UK this morning. The subject line says March, but it’s not an April Fool’s joke.
Travelling to South Africa, I left behind a more wintry Henley campus itching to burst into Spring, and wondered whether by the time I get back things would have been transformed by sprays of fresh green shoots and leaves on the trees, and carpets of yellow daffodils across the lawns. But return to South Africa affords the chance to see what has changed here. Not surprisingly given that it is just 72 days until the start of the World Cup, the city is showing many signs of soccer fever. There is still work to do. The new rail link from the airport has yet to open and many of the city’s planned improvements to the road network will not be complete in time, but there is also a real air of excitement and optimism. The casual visitor may never know whether what they see is simply window-dressing, but five visits here have convinced me that this place has such potential (and the rest of the world has so much to learn from Africa) that I am glad that Henley has emerged as the only internationally recognised MBA in South Africa. The first workshop for the new intake, SA05, which numbered over 90 people, went really well and they are an engergetic and bright bunch.
Now, thanks to all of you who picked up the gauntlet of last month’s challenge to do something with your Learning Journals. There was extra activity, and healthily some of that was reflection on whether or not reflection is important. (It is, by the way). As part of taking my mission to turn you all into thinkers, I have created a new poll on my blog with a question on writing and sharing learning journals. You can find that here https://henleydlmba.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/a-poll-on-learning-journals/
Henley on Linkedin
As I predicted in February’s newsletter, we have now passed the 5,000 member mark on Linkedin. Online there are still discussions rumbling on the topics of reputation, ranking and mergers, and there’s also speculation about what sort of person the next Dean of the Business School should be (can’t think you’ll all be shy on that subject). In addition, quite a few of you are using this forum to gather data in surveys for your Dissertations or Management Challenges.
As a reminder, if you want to sign up for this group, please make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that you have indicated when you plan to graduate from Henley Business School.
Henley at the ratings
A short while ago the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) issued a follow up to 2008’s rankings of Distance Learning MBA programmes. This time, instead of a ranking, they had a system of ratings (from “poor” to “excellent”) on a number of criteria relevant to studying at a distance. Henley did less well when compared with some of the American, or American-influenced MBAs, roughly on a par with Warwick, and a little better than the other UK programmes. However, we did not achieve “excellent” in any category. Since the ratings are the result of input from current students, perhaps we need to take the result philosophically (and stoically). My guess is that is not coincidental that the UK respondents did not rank their programmes in the most glowing terms, and the ratings should be seen in this context. Nevertheless, it would be helpful to know what we can do to improve. I placed a longer response on my blog, for those who would like to explore the link.   
Who’s New
A new addition to the staff at Henley is Sarah Powell, who joins us from London Business School as Development Executive. She will be inviting our alumni and friends to support Henley and to play an active role in helping the business school achieve its potential. Sarah will also be overseeing the Pioneers – an important group of alumni who have made a significant philanthropic commitment to the School. If you would like to find out more, she would be happy to hear from you. You can email her on (email removed).
Sign Up to RISIS
I have been reminded by Sally Pellow, from the RISIS team, that many of you have yet to activate your University of Reading username and email account. This is the one you need to sign in to upload your assignments and receive your marks, and the one that gives you access to the UoR e-library, lets you download University-licensed software packages, as well as (if you’re on campus in the UK) wi-fi access. About a third of you have activated this, but the rest of you need to do this by July 31st as the old (e:Vision) logins may expire after that (two years post merger).
Activation of the username triggers the creation of a “student email account” on RISISweb. You need to visit this account once and then set a forwarding rule to your preferred email account. Since the University will use that account to contact you, it is worth making the effort to set this up.  The RISIS team will, between now and July, be contacting people with information, reminders and assistance to get these activities done, but it would also make sense for you to explore what benefits doing this brings. There are quite a number of impressive resources and offers which open up, all in addition to the environment you use on HenleyConnect.
While I’m on the technical topics, please note that we will have some essential and long-overdue server work being conducted at Henley on Saturday the 3rd of April and this will affect your access to HenleyConnect and our Learning Resource Centre, but not to RISIS.
Research Corner
No member has asked me to advertise their survey this month, though expect one or two in April. Just a reminder that if you have a questionnaire or research that would benefit from respondents from among current MBAs, drop me a line with some basic details and a link, and I’ll put it on.  For those of you who are Henley-based and working your way toward the end of Part Three on Programme 4, don’t forget that Richard and Mike are gearing up for their face-to-face event on May 16th, just after graduation. The Home Straight will be in its own home straight soon, in part in tribute to the great work of the tutors, and in part a simple reflection that registration times are running out. For anyone coming toward the end of your studies but behind on time, please make sure you manage any requests for more time pro-actively. You can always reach the re-registration team via email at (email removed).
I’m grateful to James Boham-Pitt for a link to a site called meettheboss.tv, which is similar to 50 lessons and (somewhat) to TED.com. Check it out. I heard that many of you enjoyed the Jamie Oliver clip in last month’s newsletter, so my tip for this month on TED is Keith Barry talking (in 2004) about Brain Magic http://www.ted.com/talks/keith_barry_does_brain_magic.html
That’s it, a slightly more condensed email than usual, but I want to get it out this evening and enjoy some of the warm evening air in Jo’burg (I can add, now that I’m back, that it was indeed very nice – much more pleasant that the +3 degrees celsius of my return to London).
Chris

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Dear all,

This month, I wanted to talk to you about Learning Journals. As Programme Director, I get email alerts each day to tell me whether there has been any activity over the last 24 hours on all the HenleyConnect MBA intake areas. If I’m waiting for a daily deluge, however, I appear to be waiting in vain as, apparently most of you are reluctant diarists, and in some intakes an outpouring of reflection looks unlikely.  That’s not the case for some of you, and I know that the process and habit of vocalising your thoughts can become an MBA routine (even the occasional, but timely, record of an insight, event or thought begins to pay you dividends in others way, on the MBA and beyond).

However, for the silent majority, there may be a blockage. Now, although I thought I would talk this month about the art of reflection and of writing Learning Journal entries as part of your personal development, it occurred to me that perhaps the reason for taciturnity is because you feel a little self-conscious about voicing your thoughts in public, or maybe you lack the confidence to write. My going on about it would, in fact, be counter-productive and would send you further into your shells. 

For those of you who have not got the writing bug,  I’d like to invite you to turn inward – grow even more taciturn – with the question of how you feel about expressing “you and the MBA”, or you and your work/career, or, for that matter,  you and the world you’re in.  If, after doing that, you really feel there’s nothing to say, then I urge you to carry on not saying it, your secret’s safe with you. If you feel that thoughts do occur to you, but (for whatever reason) you object to writing them down, then I encourage you to hold on to that objection as hard as you can and, in as unchanging a way as possible, don’t let it go.  After all, you have paid for this, so who are we to tell you otherwise?  As for me, I’ll just carry on praying for rain.

Now, on with the newsletter and no more about Learning Journals. Honest.

Henley on Linkedin

I’m always keen to start with news of the Henley group. We’re about to hit 5,000 members, and so there’s a tremendous amount of potential there for you to maintain a profile and make good and collegiate contacts with fellow members and alumni around the world. The Special Interest or local alumni subgroups are growing, albeit slowly, and we’ll see whether the model is viable. That will depend, I think, on whether the technology enables something you’d do anyway.

Right now, there’s a second wave of discussions about the Henley merger and the MBA brand reputation, and several others have posted requests for assistance with their dissertation or management challenge research projects, too.

Research Corner

No items here this month, but don’t forget that if you’re looking for people to respond to your Dissertation or Management Challenge questionnaire or survey, then you can also ask me to advertise it here.

MBA Student of the Year Award 2010

You’re an impressive bunch and I am often amazed at the jobs you are doing, and occasionally of the lives you are managing to lead side by side with the MBA study. AMBA, the Association of MBAs is again launching a campaign to find the MBA Student of the Year, and is asking Henley to nominate one strong candidate.  Shortlisted candidates get invited to interview in London and get whittled down to four finalists. I don’t know if swimsuits are involved, but it would be great to have someone from Henley represented. So, if you’re interested, and if you think you meet AMBA’s selection criteria of a strong academic record, a contribution to group dynamics and leading groups, as well as commitment to the School and the MBA programme, and also (there’s quite a list) that you have demonstrably benefited from the course in your career and/or you have overcome a significant challenge to get to where you are, then please let me know and we’ll look at the rest of the criteria together.  Closing date for nominations is 21st April, with judging and interviews in May and awards presented in November.

Events

Amanda Proddow writes the following: “can you please ensure that all your current programme members are aware that they are very welcome to join the Henley Sailing Team to compete in this year’s MBA Regatta.  Please note the event has been renamed from the BSAR (Business Schools Alumni Regatta) to the Cranfield MBA Regatta 2010  and encourages current programme members, staff and alumni to take part. Paul Bennett and Richard Steele from Henley are members of the team!

Cranfield MBA Regatta 2010 – 9th to 11th July The Cranfield MBA Regatta website has been updated with a bit more info on the event. See http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/mba/regatta . The event is slightly changed on last year with an overnight stop in Cowes on the Saturday and four races. The entry requirement is described as “The Regatta is open to all Business Schools MBA students and alumni”. As before, they also include Business School staff and partners in the teams. Tim Lawson, (DL MBA 2001) is the team organiser and has scheduled 2 practice weekends in April and May.  If anyone is interested, I need to firstly register their interest and then will put them in direct contact with Tim for full details. There is a page on the alumni website advertising the event:

http://www.henley.reading.ac.uk/news/hbs-100710-event-alumni.aspx.”

Advanced notice now of this year’s Henley Golf event, which will take place at Sonning Common Golf Club in September. More details to follow, apparently.

Also, there are quite a number of other events being organised in March, and here are some of the details and contacts. I know that many of you are living or working outside the reach of these, and it would be good to know what’s been going on with you in your regions, so please do let me know:

TED.com

I’ve mentioned this site before, and my tip for a good video to watch this month is Jamie Oliver, speaking about his mission to change America’s eating habits. He looks a little out of place on the stage at first, but stick with it and you’ll end up rooting for him. This clip is especially important for anyone working in food or health related industries. View it here.

New Intake

Today we’re running the opening day of the latest Henley-Based Flexible Intake, HB43. There are 49 members of the group and as I type they are sitting in their syndicate rooms getting to know each other. Easily the most rewarding part of Day One, I always think. 

Good luck to anyone preparing to sit for their exams in March.

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Dear all,

I usually don’t start writing these things on the day they’re due to be sent out, so you will have to forgive me if this one lacks the usual sparkle and polish. In fact, I don’t know how it’s been for you, but I’ve been having a disjointed start to the year. At the start of the month we had the kind of wintry weather that, depending on where in the world you live, might either be considered as unprecedented, or just business as usual. For the startled residents of the English Home Counties, however, the severe cold and fairly heavy snow caused misery and country-lane gridlock on more than one occasion. We were even forced to postpone several workshops on site here, which I don’t recall happening before. The expression “working at home”, so often a euphemism for something else, actually came true for many staffers and faculty.

False starts over, the past week or so has felt like our own version of “business as usual”, with the classes full and the restaurant and bar buzzing. I’m sad to say that Kathy Jarvis, MBA Programme Manager, will be off for a few more weeks in recovery after breaking her wrist before Christmas. When she’s back we’ll be pushing on, in particular, with activities to promote Progression and Completion (Graduation’s younger siblings), but until then please bear with us if you have an outstanding issue pending.

Henley on Linkedin

The Henley Business School group on Linkedin now has 4,869 members. If you haven’t done so, or haven’t done so for a while, it might be worth checking the group area out. There have been some interesting discussions (which you can choose to follow) and it’s often fun to run a search to see who in the Henley network shares the same industry, region, or even family name! In response to several well-thought through requests, we now have some new sub-groups formed. One is for Henley in Ireland, and another for Henley alumni in Norway. A third, Henley Alumni in Asia-Pacific, is just getting going and will cover New Zealand to Hong Kong and Singapore. These geography-based sub-groups complement the thematic groups already there. We’ll monitor activity on these and see whether the proliferation works, or whether we need to keep things simple with fewer, but larger groupings. As always, please make sure your Linkedin profile is up to date, and accurate, before requesting to join.

Research Corner

Only one candidate for this section this month. Ephraim Spehrer-Patrick writes “I am currently writing my Henley MBA dissertation about Human Capital Measurement and would appreciate your participation in my survey. It will take approximately 20 minutes.

Below you will find the link to the online survey: [removed from blog]

Despite frequently stated by business leaders that ‘people are the company’s greatest asset’, there is no unified and commonly accepted approach that enables organisations to consistently quantify the benefits of their investments in people and comparing the outcome with other organisations. Human capital in this study is defined as “measuring the impact of people management practices and investments as well as the contribution of people to bottom-line performance of an organisation”.

The study addresses whether human capital measurement should be standardised and to what degree human capital information should be disclosed to external stakeholders.”

Building works at the Greenlands site

Work on the new teaching facility and creation of the Learning Resource Center will begin in earnest next Monday and this week the contractors have been getting the site ready (and hanging up more signs than I’ve ever seen on any building site). The work will last until mid summer and will cause some disruption to the locations of workshops, but the end result should be quite stunning. Those of you who like to come in and work quietly in the library may still do so, but the location for this has been moved to the building in front River House where the snooker table used to be.

I’m tempted to tell you that the construction work’s being done by the same company that installed those fantastic hand-driers in the refurbished toilets, but that might seem as though I’m trivialising the new Greenlands Trust Suite, which I’m not – I’m really looking forward to having whole new spaces for learning and I think it will be some solid evidence of the Reading effect.

New Intakes

Next month we’ll be welcoming a new Henley-Based intake (on the renamed Flexible MBA), HB43, and then in March, new groups from Denmark and Finland. For those who don’t know, the Nordic and Scandinavian incoming students hold a joint workshop at Greenlands and have a tradition of organising their own “Eurovision Song Contest” on the second evening. The trophy is currently back in the hands of the Danes, who put on a performance to rival anything you might see on the X Factor to get it back from the Finns.

At the end of March, it will be South Africa’s turn for their Starter workshop, which we will be running from the new Henley location in Johannesburg. New premises, too, for the Henley office in Hong Kong.

Who’s Who

 This month we welcome an energetic new Director of Marketing for the Business School, Rosemary Hayes, who joins us from spells with IESE in Spain and University of Kent Business School.

Many of you outside the UK will know Pat Hougham, who did much more with our Partner Network than her title of International Programmes Manager suggests. After more years here than she would care to admit, Pat will be retiring in February and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for all her dedication and resilience in dealing with a great number of things on the Flexible MBA.

NUS Cards

This may be of interest to those of you based in the UK. National Union of Student (NUS) ‘Extra’ cards are available for part-time as well as full-time students from the University of Reading. NUS cards, apart from having some nostalgia appeal from your slimmer undergraduate days, entitle you to numerous discounts in certain retail and service businesses. Details of how to purchase one can be found at http://cards.nus.org.uk/buy/ (pick up is from the Whiteknights campus Student Union in Reading, I believe) and info on the card can be found here http://www.nus.org.uk/en/NUS-Extra/.

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Dear all,

It’s a cold, wet, miserable November morning at Henley and the place looks somewhat deserted, as if retreated to an inner world to contemplate. Feeling introspective, I got to thinking about an item on Radio 4 this morning marking the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest grouping of what were then called natural philosophers and what we now call scientists. There’s little doubt that this marked the beginning of the modern era, leading to many breakthroughs (and some set-backs) in science. In 1660 the Society published the first peer-reviewed journal, heralding the birth of the idea, prevalent in universities still today, that it is by careful measurement and observation, combined with a detached (Descartes had mind separated from matter) reasoning, that we reveal the laws that govern our universe.

The empirical way of seeing the world has been extremely effective in ways that seem to have benefited us, although there are now nearly 7 billion of us that need these benefits, compared to only around 10% of that in 1660. If I may be provocative, I’ll suggest two other things it has done. The first has been to tie us to a philosophical microscope through which we have convinced ourselves that anything may be understood by breaking it down into parts. In the world of forces and impacts this, until fairly recently, looked to many like it explained things pretty nicely. In the world of living systems, however, things have been less clear because of the impossibility to separate the observer from the observed, and because while the effects of climate change (for example) are linear, the causes are circular. The second thing has been an obsession with giving everything a price and calling that its value.

With regard to the impact of the chain of human activity on our environment, 1660 may yet prove to have been the beginning of a Royal road that brings so many worried people to the summit in Copenhagen. The question for us at Henley is whether we should be talking more about this. Or do we not yet have the language to do so? As Einstein is quoted as saying, “you cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that caused the problem.”

Henley on Linkedin (featuring Research Corner)

We’re still growing the group, and there are three sub-groups, with two more (Third Sector and Coaching) in the offing. Membership now stands at 4,745. Please do get involved with some of the discussions, and there are also several opportunities to help out other members with their research projects.

Jane McKenzie has asked me to mention the KM Forum, which may be of interest to anyone looking for activities connected with Knowledge Management:

” Celebrating Connections: evocations and provocations for the future. 24th and 25th February 2010

The Henley KM Forum annual conference is always a great event. The 2010 conference looks all set to be outstanding. It’s the 10th Anniversary of the Forum and for two days, Henley will be hosting some of the most recognised names in the field. Key Note speakers include:

Leif Edvinsson, Janine Nahapiet, Dave Snowden, Hubert St Onge, Karl Erik Sveiby
They will be joined by an international cast of experts including

Verna Allee, Daan Andriessen, Chris Collison, Niall Cook, Ron Donaldson, Sami Kazi, Rongbin W.B Lee, Richard McDermott, Victor Newman, Geoff Parcell, Goran Roos and Euan Semple
In addition you will gain access to the latest research produced by the Henley team in cooperation with the members. You can download the full conference brochure and speaker biographies from here. Your relationship with Henley entitles you to a discount of 10% on the one day or two day rate.

We are also looking for up to 4 helpers for the conference, who can attend at no cost, in exchange for two days effort helping to keep things running smoothly. To qualify you need to have submitted a proposal for a Management Challenge or Dissertation that has knowledge management at the heart of it already. If you have then here is your chance to do an in depth dive into some of the thinking in the field. Conversations with the delegates in the networking breaks, all of whom have considerable KM experiences, are a great opportunity to get further insights. If you can spare a couple of days in February next year, this is a real opportunity to inspire your thinking. For more information please contact Professor Jane McKenzie – Director of the KM forum – here at Henley. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. ”

Attainment report

You know that from time to time I like to give you all a quick run-down of the Programme Examiner’s Meetings to let you know what the average grades achieved in assignment and exams have been in the last quarter. It’s only a general picture, but it should reassure many of you that you’re doing just fine.

[sorry, for the blog, this info has been removed].

International Business Environment elective – book now!

There is still time for any of you looking to take part in the exciting, week-long elective trip to Hungary in March next year. Expressions of interest, though, need to reach Susan Parr by December 18th 2009 and places are limited. More details of the elective (March 7th – 12th) can be found in the electives area on HenleyConnect.

News from the Greenlands Site (or, “Tales from the Riverbank”)

From January, work will begin here on the creation of a new suite of teaching and learning facilities. We will be creating a new and state-of-the-art Academic Resource Centre (ARC) by moving the PowerGen library to another side of the inner quad (phase one) and then the creation of a new, Hambleden-size, classroom and six new syndicate rooms in the vacated area (phase 2). All of this should be completed by July and we will try to ensure that disruption and noise are kept to a minimum – though there will be some impact. By the way, our excellent library team has asked me to mention that our subscription to Business Source Complete (EBSCO) now includes a business video collection, with 55 videos from the Harvard Business School Faculty Seminar Series.

Work on the new boilers for Paddock House is continuing and the refurbishment of Thames Court is finished. The Bar Common room will now be a space for both clients and staff, so expect more mingling! One other quick point, the IT system at Henley will be down for essential work for 2 hours on Saturday December 12th from 10 until mid-day, so no access to our web-site or HenleyConnect.

That’s it for this month, and because of the December holiday season, it’s the last newsletter of 2009. Good luck to all of you sitting an exam later this week, and I hope that you all take several minutes away from your MBAs for letting your hair down (collectively) in December. Consider it my gift. In the meantime, if you have any interesting news about you or your businesses, let me know. You live interesting lives and it would be good to tell some of the stories where they relate to the Henley MBA “effect”. For example, Dave Cox (HB31) was kind enough to let me know that in November he was selected to be a plenary panellist on industry ethics at a major World Petroleum Council event held in Paris.

Chris Dalton

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Dear all,  

Whether your measure is calendar, fiscal or academic, you probably won’t be surprised to know that this has been the busiest month of the year here at Henley. The cycle of the MBA is now largely annual, so there have been plenty of Stage 1, 2 and 3 starts, arranged with much the same unrelenting elegance as the line of jets manoeuvred in the skies over Henley to feed in for landing at Heathrow. The pace has meant that, sadly, this newsletter is a few days late coming out to you, so apologies.

In the last month or so, we’ve had new starts for groups from Malta, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK, as well as in Trinidad. As mentioned, many other groups have reached either Stage 2 or 3 workshops for the first time, and what with welcomes to a new full-time MBA intake as well as the Executive MBA we’re feeling very full. As I look out of my office window, I see the space normally occupied by rabbits on the lawn is being taken by preparations for work to be done on Paddock accommodation. Before those of you who know and love those bedrooms break out the champagne, I should point out that this phase of work is largely structural – work on the same level of refurbishment of bedrooms we have seen in Thames Court will follow later.

 A new name for the programme

I don’t know how personally you each felt about the tag “distance” to describe mode of study on your MBA. I’m guessing that probably you either ignored it (because it had no connotation, or no  positive connotation, in your part of the world) or disliked it (because it created a somewhat old-fashioned or snail’s-paced impression way to learn), although you recognised it as a term often used to differentiate the three-year MBA from other lengths or modes of study. Well, I’m pleased now to announce that with immediate effect we are rebranding the programme from “Distance Learning” to “The Henley MBA by Flexible Learning”.

You will begin to see us use this where necessary to differentiate from other ways of achieving the same degree.  You are all on the Henley MBA, and you share this in common with the Full-Time and the Executive programme members. However, we see that you may also need more flexibility in how and where you do that studying and, more importantly, you benefit from tailoring your assignments to your own organisations.  We will take time to allow an elaboration of what this term means for Henley over the coming months. Of course, just as the change from Management College to Business School took time to get used to, so will it take a little while to get our tongues round the new title. Since Henley is already regarded as the market leader in this format of management learning, I’ve no doubt that we will make it our own.

Linkedin

I’m really enjoying the correspondence and energy on the Henley Linkedin group at the moment. We’re still growing (nearly 4,700 now) and the two sub-groups are finding their voice. There are several discussions running at the moment, including one on the new EIU and FT MBA rankings, which brings me on to…

Henley in the rankings

We have had news lately of Henley Business School’s position in the rankings issued by the Financial Times (FT) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).  To quote from our own website :

“Our overall positions remain very similar with our Executive MBA still ranked 44th in the world but we are now 6th in the UK and 15th in Europe (we were 5th and 13th last year).  The Henley Full-time MBA remains at number 4 in the UK, number 9 in Europe and is now ranked 21 in the world (20 last year).”

I was at an MBA fair in Frankfurt this weekend and I think what I find reassuring about the Henley brand is not that it attracts swarms (and swarms at MBA fairs usually mean either you are the big local player or you are an MBA sausage factory) but that we retain a focus on experience in management that is the envy of many of those jostling for position on the listings.

Home Straight Community

Here at Greenlands, Richard and Mike ran yet another successful Home Straight event, timed not-so-subtly the day after the graduation to encourage those attending to focus on the goal of finishing. Mike reports that this month, for the first time, the majority of those in the group now have accepted Dissertation proposals in. Clearly, for any of you out there who are in the same or similar place in programme 4 (Part Three), the key message is “focus on the proposal”, as then you have a lifeline of contact and support from the Henley team. Also, keep an eye on your registration/re-registration clock, and make sure you apply for more time (if you are eligible).

Research Corner

Programme Member John Barnes has the following request to assist him in his research on Six Sigma implementation in UK manufacturing organisations. John has info on this in the Henley Linkedin discussion area and can be contacted at (email withheld from blog)

Christina Unworth, Finance Director at Grohe Ltd and an alumnus, writes: “I currently work for Grohe Ltd, which is a UK subsidiary of Grohe AG, the leading brand for sanitary, water technology products and systems. (Taps, showers and sanitary systems).  We also sell Kitchen taps but this is a part of the market that has not yet been explored in any detail. 

I was wondering if this could be used for a disse rtation student to explore the whole Kitchen faucet market. Including routes to market, distribution channels, market make up and value, competitor analysis etc.”

If anyone is interested (it could also perhaps be an IMP topic), then her email is (witheld from blog)

Finally, Linda Thorne (linda.thorne@henley.com for more details), here at HBS, writes of another potential MBA research project:

“Project Title: Develop airline industry revenue forecast model and its impact on distributors and consumers

 (details witheld from blog) 

Part Three Exam

This message will only affect a very few of you now, but a reminder to anyone still yet to complete their Part Three examination (under the old curriculum) will need to do so in the final sitting, which is in December. In order to be granted access, you will need to provide an appeal, which you can address to Suzanne Goddard at suzanne.goddard@henley.com

Any Other Business

Last year I plugged a HR conference being held in Vienna. Marc Coleman (marc@hrneurope.com) has informed me that another event is happening in February 2010 (apocalyptically titled: “Performance and the Next Wave in the War for Talent”) and details can be found at www.hrneurope.com.

We’re in the middle now of “Green Week” at Henley, whereby awareness is being raised of the School’s efforts to promote sustainable management policies and practices, such as ISO 14001. Of course, this is a very welcome and important topic, especially for someone constructing a PhD around the work of Gregory Bateson!

If you’ve read this far into the newsletter, you’re either looking for distraction activities to avoid writing assignments, or you enjoy online learning and education. If this is you, then as part of our developments to up-grade our VLE, HenleyConnect, we are actively seeking someone who would agree to participate in a development panel alongside developers and faculty. You will need to be within easy travelling distance of Henley and be willing to commit to join us in meetings in November to January. If you would like to know more, then please let me know.

Finally, and off topic from management education, I’d like to say a quick thank you to the two or three individuals who have bought my book on Amazon – the result is a sales ranking of about 1,300,000.

Chris Dalton

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