28 May 2011

The Cass MBA Perspective: Leadership

Welcome to the new edition of the Cass MBA Perspective eNewsletter. This edition takes a look at leadership with interesting discussions from both staff and students here at Cass Business School. Starting with my review of the annual student trip to Poland; or if you fancy some light viewing, David Simms presents a video on Leadership in business. From trips to Africa, Women in Business and the recent graduation in Dubai, this edition provides a real flavour of everything that happens at Cass. 

I hope you enjoy the leadership issue - and please feel free to comment on the articles. Don't forget that if you would like to find out more about the programme or to come and meet students and staff, we have information sessions over the next two months. Register for information session >>

Sionade Robinson
Full Time MBA course Director

27 May 2011

Preparing for the real world of business

As well marking the end of the core programme, this year’s trip to Poland represents a significant piece of work for students. Dr Sionade Robinson, Course Director for the Full Time MBA Programme, speaks about the annual trip to Warsaw and the opportunities it provides students.

To provide a little background to the trip - it’s an exchange trip for full-time students, hosted by WUTBS, Poland’s leading business school. We’ve developed close ties with them in the last few years. Like us, they have a strong reputation for developing the business leaders of tomorrow. The exchange also represents the end of our core training and gives students the chance apply some of what they’ve learnt to a real business consultancy challenge.

Students are therefore offering real consultancy to real organisations. We get students from both business schools working together in teams of five or six to consult on some very specific business challenges. This year, we worked with 15 different Polish companies ranging in size and sector. Among them, we had an airline looking to optimise its routes, and a chain of bakeries evaluating growth strategies. Other companies included a retail bank and Poland’s National Chamber of Commerce. Each organisation has a unique problem to solve and they’re looking to these teams to help.

Before this particular cohort arrived in Warsaw, students were briefed by a specialist from the IMF and by an expert in Eastern European economies to prepare them. We also ran a consulting skills workshop covering both technical and soft skills. And to help break the ice, we gave students from both schools the contact details of their team members and clients so they could introduce themselves ‘virtually’ before the programme started. Students also have Faculty support and an experienced interpreter shadowing them to make sure nothing gets lost in translation!

Each team spends a working week on-site, getting to grips with the issues and challenges their client faces. During that time, they’ll make two formal progress reports, before presenting their findings and recommendations to the client and Faculty on the last day. We combine this with client feedback to grade them as part of their core MBA.

It may seem quite intense, but it’s an acid test of how far students have come. That’s why it works so well. We want students to dovetail seamlessly into any team in any company and gain the insight they need to provide valuable commercial advice.

Overall, the experience usually helps develop students’ leadership skills. By encouraging students to work together as a team tends to bring out people’s individual leadership potential. People often feel differently after the programme. In fact, one of my students remarked that on her first day, she was asking one set of questions. On her last day, she was having a conversation on a totally different level and felt that was the leader coming out.

Leadership skills can launch a career

Working towards her MBA elective in private equity, Andia Chakava is always looking for opportunities to develop her career. When one such chance came along, she used some highly effective leadership techniques to ensure she didn’t miss out.

What was the opportunity exactly?
I’m particularly interested in Africa’s frontier markets – how investment can benefit the continent as well as investors. After recently managing a large fund in East Africa, I wanted to build on this experience. I’ve been keen to speak to Zain Latif, a Cass alumnus who’s held key posts at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, and now runs TLG Capital, a niche financier specialising in sub-Saharan Africa. My big chance came when I met him at a Cass talk on EU and Africa relations.

How did you make the most of this?
I needed to get his attention quickly, so I mentioned the fund I’d run, and that I’d seen him speak on ‘private equity for social returns’. I also told him how impressed I was! We then talked about an event he was holding in Uganda, involving key players in private equity. I knew I needed to be there – and he invited me.

You make it sound easy!
Well, my past work put me in a good position. But it was also my determination to make things happen – and the ability to ‘connect’ with people quickly. When I got to Uganda, I used my contacts and love of networking to speak to some important investors. I think these are all leadership skills that will help me in my career – and after Uganda, I’m certain it will be in private equity.

Men and women as leaders – gender psychology at play

Psychology is often the explanation behind patterns of behaviour, and this is true for gender differences in leadership. Here Dr Julie Verity describes an experiment that shows where some of these differences lie.

How did the experiment work?
A mixed group of men and women were asked to play in one of two games about making money. One was a ‘war scenario’, where the teams competed against each other to make the most money. In the other game – the ‘peace scenario’ – the aim was to make more money than other members in the same team. For each scenario, team members voted for their leader from two candidates with essentially the same credentials, the only difference being one was male and one female.

Which way did they vote?
In the war scenario – where the game was about pitting one team against others – most players (78%) wanted the man as their leader. And in the peace scenario, 93% voted for the woman.

And had they voted wisely?
Yes, these leaders turned out to be very effective in their respective scenarios. This is a clear illustration of our psychologies at work – how the genders are better suited to different leadership situations. Also, the voting showed when we expect each gender to perform the best.

Did we learn whether one gender makes better leaders than the other?
Well, when a hybrid version of the game was played, mixed groups selected a female leader! And other research indicates that women have a more flexible leadership style, making them better at dealing with complex situations where you might need to manage both collaboration and conflict at the same time. As the world becomes more complex, maybe the time for more women in leadership positions has come?

For more information on Dr Julie Verity’s research into women as leaders, please visit www.julieverity.co.uk/education/cass

Who says it’s a man’s world?

As well as being a full-time MBA student, Dr Maria Nikolou is also Co-President of Cass Women In Business Society. Maria explains about the aims and objectives of this student organisation.

The Society isn’t really just for women. While our main aim is to inspire and support the next generation of high potential women, it’s also to create awareness on critical issues among the entire future workforce. For example, helping tomorrow’s HR Managers - male and female - to understand the issues women have in the workplace - and what they can do to help.

It’s a fact that there is inadequate representation of women in leadership and executive positions. Through various events, we want to encourage constructive discussions and challenge the established notions and patterns that prevent the business world from fully capitalising on the female talent pool. Our most recent event ‘Heeling the Boardroom’ - well-attended by men and women - explored the debate around female quotas. We had some inspiring speakers including Stefan Stern, Henrietta Royle, Jane Scott and Susan Hooper - all leading lights in the business world.

It’s only an individual’s ability that makes her or him a good business leader. Women-in-Business Society was formed to help women develop their abilities, provide networking opportunities, and offer support against the challenges of working up the career ladder.

Cass recognises the importance of diversity and has a high percentage of women in the programme. This sets an example, and at the same time provides a very stimulating work environment where everyone is valued for their contribution, irrespective of gender.

For more information about Cass Women in Business, and details of future events, email Maria.Nikolou.1@cass.city.ac.uk


Scholarship deadline approaching
Only one month left to apply for our Scholarships

Cass are delighted to announce the Deans and Women in Business Scholarships that are available for entry to the September 2011 cohort.

Scholarships are highly competitive and  reflect our insistence that only the best need apply. We don't have a typical student but we do have individual screening where we see if you are a good fit  for this most competitive of programmes. Our decisions are based on the  following criteria: 

  • Significant achievements, both in the work place and outside
  • Professional experience and proficiency
  • Academic ability
  • Potential to fulfil leadership promise
  • Likelihood of adding value to MBA cohort
  • Strong set of attributes and ideals, similar to the vision set out by Cass Business School. 
All those receiving a scholarship will be required to assist in promoting the school during their time at Cass and once you have become an alumnus.

Find out more >> 
Executive Scholarships
Full Time Scholarships

Get ahead of the game - Find out if you are eligible for a 5% fee reduction. 

If you are considering applying for our Full Time MBA programme and feel you are an exceptional candidate, apply before the 1 July to be considered for the 5% fee discount.
Apply now >>


Graduation in Dubai
Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Al Maktoum, and attended by H.H Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, second cohort of students graduate from leading Executive MBA programme.

The second cohort of students graduated from Cass' Executive MBA programme in Dubai in a ceremony held at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) earlier this month.

The Cass EMBA is a flexible part-time course aimed at managers in the Gulf region who want to accelerate their career development whilst remaining in full-time employment. The course has the same content as Cass's London-based Executive MBA, which in 2010 was ranked second in the UK, fourth in Europe and 10th in the world by the Financial Times. Graduates from this year's EMBA programme include top level executives from across the Gulf region, representing varied industries including energy, engineering, commerce, manufacturing, finance, legal and government.

As the first EMBA programme in the world to offer a specialisation in Islamic Finance and Oil and Energy Economics, the Cass EMBA is regionally-relevant, offering electives in Global Real Estate Markets, and Entrepreneurship and Family Business. The EMBA has become increasingly popular, student admissions to the EMBA programme in Dubai have grown by 90 per cent in the last four years. Professor Paul Curran, Vice Chancellor of City University London, which Cass Business School is a part of, said of the EMBA programme's continued success: "I am pleased to congratulate this year's graduates on their EMBA achievement. As our graduates now complete their transition from Cass students to highly regarded Cass alumni, on behalf of the University I wish them the very best".


Guest Speaking, Dubai
Wednesday 13 April, 2011

Private Equity: Where do we go from here? A personal view from one of Cass's investment experts

Capital Club Dubai, the region's premier private business club and a member of the ENSHAA group of companies hosted Guy Fraser–Sampson, Private Equity and Investment Strategy Expert to give his personal view on ‘Private Equity; Where to we go from here?’, to the club’s members and guests on Wednesday 13th April.

Fraser-Sampson, one of CASS Business School’s investment experts gave an eye-openingly frank account of the financial crisis, current economic environments and his views on the future of investments before opening the floor to audience questions and discussions.

Fraser–Sampson drew predominantly on the state of both the US and UK economies to highlight the severity of current debt; ‘The US dollar has lost 1/6 of the purchasing power it had eleven years ago, US gross public debt is close to 100%, and this is not including hidden debt. Last time this happened was during the Second World War’, he said. Similarly the UK has the biggest budget debt in history; the equivalent of £37,250 per person. 

Moving on to discuss assets, Fraser-Sampson explained that people may increasingly move over to real assets; gold, silver, commodities. ‘Wealth Management has changed. Right now the priority is not to grow your clients’ wealth, but to protect it’, he said. You must also draw a distinction between long and short term capital. Gold, for example, is a good long term bet but in the short term can be very volatile.

So what will we see along the way? Fraser-Sampson suggested very high rates of taxation and exchange control. ‘Restriction on the movement of capital is the logical step if currencies collapse’, he said, ‘and if things get desperate pension funds could be taken over by governments, as has already happened in Ireland.  You need to think about where you have custody of your assets. Many assets are being moved out of Europe for this reason, so things are subject to other countries’ jurisdiction’, he said, ‘individuals and institutions may look to move around the world to make sure they are always one step ahead of the next dollar to fall’.

‘We are living in an artificial world, and you can’t buck simple economics forever’.  When asked if he honestly thought that some of the disturbing solutions he suggested in terms of debt recovery would really happen, Fraser-Sampson said, ‘I am not saying any of this is going to happen, but the probability of it happening has increased dramatically. These are not hypothetical possibilities, they are real ones’.

Cass Talks

David Sims, Professor of Management at Cass Business School, argues that business leaders must understand their own weaknesses and delegate tasks to compensate.

Watch > David Simms on leadership in business