Posts Tagged ‘student-led learning’
Silicon Valley – the name has engendered legendary status in recent decades as the global hub for innovation and technology. And our week in the Valley certainly didn’t disappoint! I was very fortunate to be selected to attend the Global Immersion Field Trip based out of San Francisco and the stellar line-up of big tech companies, start-ups and venture capital firms, carefully allocated into a jam-packed schedule, kept us busy from dawn until dusk. Highlights of the trip included a presentation at Andreessen Horowitz by partner Todd Ludwack, an ex-exec of eBay. A16Z (as it is known in the industry) is a VC powerhouse based in Menlo Park, with successful exits in household brands such as Skype, Groupon and Instagram to name just a few. Ludwack shared with us frameworks with which to analyse digital platform propositions and investments (the likes of Uber and AirBnB) as well as some lessons-learned from his time at the VC house. In particular, he led an interesting discussion on first and second order effects when it comes to making investments – not only predicting outcomes as the business expands across markets but predicting secondary consequences of these changes that may have knock-on effects in new markets or sectors. Contrastingly, a small-group presentation at SoftTech VC led to fascinating insights into a firm that invests in very early stage ventures – when an entrepreneur may be armed with justa dream and a prototype – and whose expertise has led to some of the greatest edtech, platforms and wearable successes to emerge from the Bay Area (think FitBit, EventBrite and Twitter).
Later in the week, we had the ‘inverse experience’ through visits to several start-ups, a great opportunity to see the entrepreneurial space from a different perspective. We were treated to passionate presentations by entrepreneurs and co-founders from promising ventures such as DoubleDutch (a firm revolutionising live engagement marketing) from people that have grown a vision and personally tackled problems across the whole gamut of organisational functions.
Another fantastic visit included a tour and panel discussion at Pinterest. Everything you hear about working life in the Valley – the funky office space, the sushi chef slicing uramaki in the centre of the workspace, bicycles covered in flowers hanging from the ceiling, an endless mountain of muffins and cakes overflowing in open-plan kitchens filled with employees animatedly schmoozing in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. As soon as we walked into the office, our cohort was ‘Pinterested’ – challenging staff to ping-pong and table football games in the lobby. But when we finally got down to business, the managers we met knew their business analytics backwards – from potential opportunities for growth using existing profit drivers right down to what would be trending in the coming season for middle-agedmales in Tokyo.
Singularity University is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not really a university but a
think-tank and it doesn’t really focus on one technology but rather how many different emerging technologies can be leveraged and interfaced in order to drive growth and solve global challenges. A presentation by ardent futurist Darlene Damm opened our minds to new research in areas that will transform the way we live in the coming years – artificial intelligence and machine learning, bioengineering and regenerative medicine, big data and augmented reality were just a few of the topics touched upon during our workshop. The focus at Singularity is on “exponential tech” – technologies whose adoption and development can have skyrocketing impact in all industries across all markets. A hands-on session also gave us the opportunity to see some of these new technologies in action – from having a chat with a cognitive robot to running around with Virtual Reality goggles, fully immersed in another dimension. One of the great take-homes for me from SU was a new way of thinking about technology application. As a non-gamer I was excited to see that research was underway to use VR headsets in the provision of palliative care and pain management for burns victims and other trauma patients. SU encourages students and professionals to ask the big questions. They don’t claim to have all the answers but they promote great vision, ‘moonshot thinking’ and alternative ways to think about, apply and leverage new technologies to impact meaningful change in the world.
No visit to Silicon Valley would be complete without a visit to Apple HQ or the Googleplex. At Apple we had the opportunity to meet two senior product managers and following several presentations had the opportunity to ask some of life’s most pertinent questions – why did Apple choose to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7? What’s the thinking behind the TouchBar on the new Macbook Pro? Why doesn’t Apple expand its portfolio of products? These questions may seem trivial but what lies behind them is masses of market research carefully formulated into intricate strategy applied to product design. The outcome is one of the world’s most beloved brands that plans the user experience right down to the carefully-engineered iPhone box that builds a one-second anticipation when lifting the lid for the first time. As someone with a non-profit background in the health space, I was particularly excited to hear from a lead at Apple’s Accessibility team. Apple are constantly trying to add new features or extras to their products to ensure that they are functional for all members of society. This goes far beyond adjusting font size for the visually impaired and ranges from ‘AssistiveTouch’ head-movement-controlled touchpads for people suffering with cerebral palsy to syncing devices with hearing aids to enable better quality conversations for those with partial deafness. Thankfully many never have the need to enter Settings>General>Accessibility on our iPhones but take a look at the impressive plethora of adaptations Apple works on to ensure accessibility and quality user experience for all users regardless of capability.
The Googleplex has a mythical status in the professional world. Ball-ponds at work. Croissant buffets lining the corridors. Self-driving cars whizzing around the parking lot, darting in between parked Google Maps vehicles with their iconic rooftop cameras. All this may be true. But this is not what stood out for me at Google. Several months ago I read Schmidt and Rosenberg’s “How Google Works” – a fantastic read for anyone with a keen interest in organisational behaviour and a passion for understanding how the world’s source of knowledge operates. The take-home message from the book was that Google is all about people and the culture they foster amongst their employees. This could not have been seen more clearly than on our visit to Mountain View at the Google HQ. We had the chance to chat with several LBS alums that are working out there in a range of roles from product management to business strategy. What came across most strongly was their love for Google and the freedom they have to pursue new opportunities and ‘self-actualise’ (in Maslow OB terminology). Googlers, as they are known, strive to maintain an entrepreneurial outlook in the face of global operations; a tremendous feat. They do this by giving their employees autonomy to be creative, to innovate and to follow their passions. The result of such policies (including 20% Time – the commandment for all Googlers to spend a fifth of their time in the pursuit of innovative projects – that according to employees results in working 120% of the time!) are some world-changing products including Gmail. Much food for thought to be gleaned from our time at the Googleplex in hiring talented people and allowing their enthusiasm and self-motivation to shine.
Visits to Electronic Arts (the world renowned EA gaming company), the beautiful Stanford University and their Design School, Autodesk and Shop.co among others topped off an incredible week but it would be remiss not to make special mention of the LBS alum community in the Bay Area. It was fantastic for our cohort to meet the incredible populations of LBSers and our supporters based out in the San Francisco area. One of the major plugs of our school is the global network of contacts as alumni forge their international professional careers. Indebted to the school for the education, life skills and opportunities afforded to us, it is really wonderful to meet LBSers from across the professional spectrum who offer advice, guidance, time, friendship and professional support. The large networking evening was particularly lively and enjoyable and was a great opportunity to link with those in the finance, consulting, technology and start-up spaces – united by our common love and gratitude to the London Business School. A big thank you to the Admin team – in particular Kelly and Fiona – for making such a wonderful, busy and exciting trip possible!
At the end of each term I look at the data we collect through student activities.
Below, I’ve put together five quick summaries of some different ways of looking at club activities in the Autumn term.
Which clubs do you think are the best?
Top five clubs, by number of registrations to events:
|Private Equity & Venture Capital||2001|
Top five clubs, with the highest % of alumni and executive students:
|Club||% of ‘exec’ RSVPs|
One of the advantages of LBS is the diversity of programmes. This table shows the % of registrations from alumni and our senior career students that are also often studying part-time: Sloan, EMBAs, MiF PT and Executive Education programmes.
Simply put, if you’re an MBA and want to connect with the members of our community who are most likely to be able to help find you a job, it may be time to start learning volleyball…
Top five clubs, with the highest ratings for networking:
|Military in Business||4.8|
|Women in Business||4.5|
We asked students to rate whether the Professional Interest Clubs had helped them ‘connect with people and businesses relevant to their future career’.
5 = Strongly agree; 3 = neither agree/disagree; 1 = Strongly disagree
Top five clubs, with the highest ratings for learning:
|Clubs||Rating for learning|
|Military in Business||4.4|
We asked students to rate whether the Professional Interest Clubs had helped them ‘gain knowledge and/or skills relevant to their future career’.
5 = Strongly agree; 3 = neither agree/disagree; 1 = Strongly disagree
Top five clubs, which send emails their members actually read:
|Clubs||% emails opened|
|Women’s Touch Rugby||71|
|Military in Business||66|
A big thank you to all our club leaders and officers who make LBS such a vibrant community! If you want to find out more about any of the clubs, have a look at: clubs.london.edu/groups
Senior Student Activities Manager
Degree Programmes Office
Many university club events are just about having fun. Deciding whether to take part is pretty simple.
Business school clubs provide a breadth and depth of professional activities such as speaker events, competitions, career treks, conferences and leadership positions. This can make it more difficult to decide what to get involved in.
How do I make the most out of these opportunities? What will I learn? What are the networking opportunities? How do I avoid missing out whilst not spreading myself too thin? What should I put on my CV?
My advice – as the Senior Student Activities Manager at LBS - would be to treat them as part of your professional development and take a structured approach:
Step 1 – Frame
Think about your long-term career aims, what gaps are there between where you are now and where you want to be? How could extra-curricular activity help?
Link this to the advice from Career Services and Organisational Behaviour Courses.
As an example, these slides are from a presentation by Professor Margaret Ormiston on how to use club leadership as a personal development opportunity:
Step 2 – Explore and develop
There are a huge amount of club events – you will regularly have to choose between different activities. Actively assess their relevance to you and what you’re trying to achieve, don’t just follow the crowd.
Ask yourself – How will the activity help me develop relevant skills, expertise, networks? How do they help me find out more about areas that interest me?
Establish one or two tangible outcomes that you would aim to get out of each event e.g. a new contact or an alumni’s perspective on a business you’re considering joining.
Student leadership roles can also provide a relatively safe environment to practise particular skills or try out new ways of leading.
Step 3 – Demonstrate
Club activity isn’t going to help your CV!
Once you’re in business school, your club involvement is unlikely to make much difference to your CV.
To illustrate this, a few years ago we analysed CV submissions to consultancy firms to see if different content changed the likelihood of being invited to interviews. We found there was no statistically significant benefit to putting student leadership roles on CVs.
Instead, think about how you could talk about your different activities in interviews.
Think about what your club involvement says about your willingness to contribute to the community you’re in, how it shows passion for your area of business, how you have been able to use contacts that will be valuable in your future role.
Specific experiences may also help complement your business experience. For example, club leaders often have plenty of examples of how they’ve been able to motivate others or resolve conflicts. They can also provide ‘safe’ examples of failure and learning.
Step 4 – Reflect
Periodically, take time to reflect: What have you learnt? Do you need to reassess your involvement? Are you now able to focus on a narrower range of businesses or opportunities?
Talk to your peers and compare what you’re getting from these activities. Peer-to-peer coaching can also be a valuable tool – now is a great time to practise: https://hbr.org/2010/02/cultivate-your-coaching-networ-2/
Take time every few weeks to reflect on what you’re learning through student activities and go through these steps again.
To give some examples here are a selection of some of the great learning opportunities through student-led activities at London Business School:
- Student leadership as a way to practise ‘delivering through others’
- Get involved in the TELL Series to hear entrepreneurial success stories first-hand and help find and select inspiring founders
- Take part in the Global Social Venture Competition to test your business idea:
Our student-led conferences are back!
This year’s events begin with the China Business Forum on 18 October, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about the award for best student-led event.
I am Jon, the Senior Student Activities Manager at the School, and my team helps support the multitude of professional student-led clubs and events that are such a prominent part of student life here at London Business School. Last year was the second year that I ran club awards for the autumn and spring terms. At the end of each academic year I also look back at the best student-led event of the year.
While there are always incredible cultural trips and a constant stream of high quality career treks, I tend to be most interested in our student-led conferences. These present some of the best student-led activities in terms of enhancing students’ professional development and raising the profile of our brand. They are also a great way for the conference team to practise leadership skills and learn more about their sector.
Last year we had our first ‘perfect’ conference according to feedback from attendees*; we also saw our first examples of our conferences making it into international press (e.g. the Asset Management Conference ). Several other conferences also raised their profile and it was great to see an improvement overall (on an already high standard). The best events tended to be those that concentrated on what an attendee gains from the event rather than making the event ‘bigger’:
|Number of conferences surveying their attendees||17||13|
|Average score||4.4 / 5||4.2 / 5|
|% positively recommending||93%||86%|
|Approximate number of attendees||2000||1800|
More details on the conference surveys below*
My shortlist of the best conferences of 2013-14
This is from a combination of survey results, feedback from attendees and colleagues and from working with the teams:
Africa Business Summit (Summer 2014)
“Beyond the hype: The not-for-tourists guide to investing in Africa”
This was arguably our most professional event and was on an impressive scale: 45 speakers, sold out with 350 attendees (the majority external guests), over 20 sponsors and partners, moderated by a CNN business correspondent (Zain Asher), the most social media engagement of any of our events and they also launched an entrepreneurship competition.
This conference, more than any other I’ve seen, highlighted the hard-work, determination and ability of its organisers and the club’s presidents – it was a year in the planning and excelled across all areas.
If you aren’t currently thinking about doing business in Africa this conference (and the club itself) will change your mind.
eurOUT (Autumn 2013)
“the premier conference for LGBT MBA students and alumni from European schools”
The team had an incredible focus on their attendees and built a programme with a carefully judged mix of talks, panels, networking and social events to ensure attendees gained maximum value from the event.
They secured sponsorship and speakers from some of the companies that our students most want to hear from and work for (e.g. McKinsey & Co, BCG, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Accenture, Unilever, American Express, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, General Mills). They also successfully involved faculty to share our thought leadership and alumni to keep our whole community engaged.
I thought their overall survey score of 100% recommendations and 4.9/5 would be the highest any conference would ever achieve…
Family Business Summit (Summer 2014)
“Conversations on Family Business”
Our first ‘perfect’ conference according to feedback from attendees: All survey respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that they would recommend this event to current/future colleagues.
I also shortlisted this event last year for the same reasons – they keep it small, maximise interactions between guests and speakers and run workshops to go into depth and ensure attendees get the most out of the event.
The Women in Business Summit (Spring 2014)
“Sprints & Marathons: The Sustainable Career”
A super slick and inspirational event which wowed attendees and those involved in helping support the event – I still am receiving positive feedback from colleagues who attended and worked with the conference team.
The club and School launched a survey at the event that was picked up across press and media
Engaging speakers, packed venue and an enthusiastic audience – watch highlights here
A tough choice but I decided to give the award to the eurOUT conference.
All of the shortlisted events (and many of the others not shortlisted) were exceptional. In my opinion the eurOUT conference edged ahead of the others by striving and succeeding in making a meaningful impact on their attendees’ professional development. Congratulations to the club and to the organisers. And good luck for this year’s event!
*The conference survey-
The main question I ask is whether the attendee would ‘recommend the event to current/future colleagues’: 1=Strongly disagree; 5=Strongly agree.
I ask all conferences to gain responses from at least 10% of their attendees to be included. Note that we don’t include TEDxLondonBusinessSchool in this as they run an independent survey through TEDx – although arguably they are one of our most successful conferences. I will feature them separately later this year.
The full breakdown of scores:
|Africa Business Summit||4.5||89|
|Asia Business Forum||4.3||94|
|India Business Forum||4.5||93|
|Out in Business||4.9||100|
|Women in Business||4.6||93|
Thank you for reading!
Senior Student Activities Manager
Degree Programmes Office