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Symposium Day Three: Leading Change

The Cass MBA London Symposium continued today at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.

Day three of the Cass MBA London Symposium saw students taking their seats at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. 

There were talks from Rohan Silva, Alejandro Agag, Craig Mackey and Anne Boden before students went on site visits to the Oval (The Professional Cricketers’ Association), Accenture and The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Rohan Silva was the first of the day’s speakers to address the packed auditorium. The entrepreneur, and former Senior Policy Advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, co-founded Second Home - the world’s most innovative working environment for creative companies.

Silva’s talk, Creating and Building a Tech Community detailed the philosophies behind the Government’s Tech City initiative. He went on to explain how at the time of implementation, Tech City bridged an important gap in British industry and policy with the innovation and development of digital entrepreneurship.

Silva said: “Tech City challenged the established order: those who had successful business careers but didn’t take risks. People who were perhaps once thought odd for not following traditional careers – becoming doctors or lawyers – were suddenly legitimised by establishments such as Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.”

He also discussed the challenges facing London as a unique hub, accommodating the widest range of industries than any other global city.

“The City hasn’t flexed to keep pace with entrepreneurship. What’s needed is serendipitous clusters and collisions – to inspire and support creativity. That’s why we created Second Home: to stir the pot and bring people and different industries together.”

Next was Alejandro Agag: CEO of FIA Formula E and former chairman of English football team QPR. His talk Driving Innovation captured the attention of motorsports enthusiasts and sustainability champions alike - not the usual pairing one might expect.

Agag said: “Formula E could only have been invented by two kinds of people: petrol-heads or environmentalists. It just so happens that the motorsports enthusiasts thought of it first! But without those ‘green’ people - without their concerns behind climate change and sustainability - Formula E wouldn’t be here. We are second-generation environmentalists.” 

When asked about the comparison between Formula 1 and Formula E, Agag stated: “We do not compete with F1. Our audience is different: they are digital and watch just as much for the racing as they do for the innovation in technology. They know they are seeing the future when they watch Formula E.”

He continued: “In one hundred years, the only combustion that should exist should be in racing F1 cars! Horses still race, but we all know that cars are faster. In the future, all cars should be electric.”

Next on stage was Craig Mackey, the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. He spoke about Leading Change and Responsiveness in the Metropolitan Police.

His talk focused on London as the safest global city in the world but a city that faced real challenges with proposed cuts to public sector spending.

He said: “The Metropolitan Police is not a small enterprise – we are a £3.2bn organisation employing 50,000 people. There’s a longstanding joke that if the Met were a public company we’d be in the FTSE 100.”

He continued: “At the end of the 2012 Olympics, we were told to reduce our budget by £600m over the next four years. But we also needed to keep our police officer numbers high...we needed a strategic approach. We looked at areas we could truly reform – where we could release under-utilised assets.

“Our approach to change included releasing capital from the sale of underused buildings and reinvesting into technology transformation and improving the quality of the remaining buildings for both the citizen and those people who work in them. And we were absolutely sure to protect frontline services, such as visible policing services throughout London.”

On developing technology for the Metropolitan Police, Deputy Commissioner Mackey explained that technology as an innovator was easier said than done.

“Why isn’t there an app to get hold of the Met? It’s one of the challenges we face. We haven’t yet moved
into that digital age, but it is a part of our work going forward.”

The day’s lectures were closed by Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank with “Building a Challenger Bank.”

The founder of the start-up bank was recently named by the Sunday Times as one of the top 25 FinTech Start-Ups in the world.

She told the audience that as a banker, she learnt a lot during the financial crisis. “The big banks are highly focused on correcting the problems of the past,” she said. “For me the best way to provide services to customers was to start again – so I decided to do just that.”

She went on to say, “My focus is the customer and their needs. The banking industry lost the trust of the people in the crisis, but I am seeking to change the perception of banking with Starling.”

Boden explained that what makes Starling different to traditional banks is a focus on customer wants rather than selling multiple products. She was also keen to state that the big banks were using antiquated system: old tech that posed a high risk and expense to migrate to newer, better systems. 

Boden closed with, “We have to aim to provide services that are efficient and affordable. Starling aims to do one thing and do it well – provide a bank account for digital natives and address our customers’ real world issues.”

The Symposium is an elective element of the MBA course, and brings together more than 100 students from Cass's Full Time, Executive and Dubai Executive programmes and guests MBAs from partner schools.

Read about Day One, Day Two and Day Four of the Cass London Symposium.

You can Tweet from and follow the event using the hashtag #CASSLS2015

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