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Cass MBA London Symposium ends on a high at the National Gallery

Students head to iconic art institution to learn about the future of work and overcoming adversity

by Amy Ripley (Senior Communications Officer)

The final day of the Cass MBA London Symposium was held at the National Gallery on Thursday, following a successful week of activity at Tate Modern, the Royal Institution and Cass Business School.

The Symposium is an popular elective element of the MBA course which brings together over 150 students from all Cass MBA cohorts, as well as MBA teams from partner schools in South Africa and Europe.  This year’s theme is ‘New Directions’.

Stuart Harvey, Director of Major Projects for Transport for London (TfL) spoke about ‘Delivering Major Projects for the Benefits of London’.  Mr Harvey discussed the Mayor’s transport strategy and the challenges and rewards of working at TfL.

He also offered his own personal reflections on leadership and said “communication, authenticity and transparency” were essential components of good leadership.

Markus Kramer, Partner at Brand Affairs and Visiting Professor of Strategic Brand Management at Cass, spoke about ‘Purpose and New Directions in Competitive Advantage’.  He told students that to succeed brands needed to be clear about their purpose and what drives them, giving the examples of Google, Air BnB and Harley Davidson as brands who do this well.

“Be clear about your purpose in five words or less and keep it simple – find out what drives you.  Once you have done this, you can devise a purpose framework, starting on the outside to define that purpose, creating a map and defining the values at the heart of what you do,” he said.

The future of work

Brett Walsh, Partner at Deloitte LLP spoke about the ‘Future of Work: the Augmented Workforce’.  Mr Walsh discussed how the future can create opportunities and challenges and how students can ensure they fit into the modern workplace.

“Humans adapt quickly.  Our lives are in our smartphones – which we pick up 150 times a day. There are many disruptors driving change such as Artificial Intelligence and organisations and government are struggling to adapt.  The workforce of tomorrow will be different but technology will replace drudgery of machine work and therefore, work become more human.  Jobs that value human judgement and problem solving such as data scientists are becoming more critical.”

He also urged students to “Be curious about these technologies.  If you understand it, you will be more successful. Look forward and read the commentary around new technology as it will impact your careers sooner than you think.”

Overcoming adversity

Serving Metropolitan Police Constable Charlie Guenigault spoke about ‘Overcoming Adversity’.  PC Guenigault was awarded the George Medal, a Pride of Britain award for Outstanding Bravery and the Police National Bravery Award after confronting armed terrorists to protect others in the London Bridge terrorist attacks in 2017.  During the attacks, he was off duty, unarmed and had no personal protective equipment and received five stab wounds.

He is also a two-time London Marathon runner and continues to promote and raise funds for Kings College Hospital, the hospital that helped save his life and helped him on his way to recovery.

Introducing PC Guenigault, Dr Sionade Robinson, Faculty lead for the Symposium, said:

“I’m a proud Londoner and I’m proud of our fundamental values which include openness, inclusivity, hospitability - our city thrives on these qualities.  The definition of a hero is someone who puts themselves in danger to help others and there are certain individuals who humble us in their response to adversity.  Individuals like PC Charlie Guenigault.”

PC Guenigault spoke to the students about his recovery from injury, how to build resilience, the importance of being part of a team and how to deal with challenging situations.

“Our lives always change and it happens so quickly so you need to take time to think about yourself as a person and what you need.  If you are happy in your life, you do better at work.  If you are strong physically, you feel best mentally.  Seek support from your friends, family and colleagues.  Do what you feel is best for you.”

Another successful year for the Symposium

Dr Robinson said this year’s Symposium had been another great success for the flagship elective, which she first devised and organised in in 2014.

“This has been another exciting Symposium which has celebrated Cass’s unique network inside the heart of one of the world’s best global cities.  Our students have been given access to some of London’s most iconic locations, brands and organisations and have had a wonderful opportunity to meet, and learn from, some of London’s most prominent and respected business figures.  I am very grateful to all of our speakers who have given up their time to speak to our students and to really make this a special and memorable event.”

About the Symposium

The Symposium is an elective element of the MBA course which brings together over 150 students from all Cass MBA cohorts, as well as MBA teams from partner schools in South Africa and Europe.

The first Symposium was held in 2014 to celebrate Cass’s unique network inside the heart of one of the world’s best global cities.  The Symposium mixes thought leadership in plenary sessions with a ‘backstage pass’ to some of London’s most iconic locations, brands and organisations which drive the city’s prosperity.

It is now the flagship MBA elective, providing students with excellent networking opportunities and access to some of London’s most prominent and respected business figures.

You can tweet about or from the Symposium using #NewDirections2019.

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