Just over a week ago I attended the second Warwick Week for my cohort. The format was similar to earlier this year at Warwick Week 1, but this time the event was only three days long as we didn’t need the introductory day, and the leadership day only takes place once each year.
I’d like to start by saying hello to everyone I met during the week who reads my blog – thank you for introducing yourself, it was good to meet you all, and please feel free to add your thoughts on Warwick Week in the comments area below.
The first activity was a networking event on Wednesday evening, Navigating Cultural Awareness. The timing of this was such that it overlaps with the Warwick Week for three cohorts, which meant we were able to meet students in their second year, along with those who were only 3 months in, and some of the WBS MBA alumni. I was unable to attend this event in March, so it was nice to be able to join this time and meet a number of people from all three cohorts. There were a good variety of attendees; I met people from a number of different professions, industries and countries, gathered some useful feedback on elective choices for next year, and was also able to offer some tips and advice to those who were just three months into their MBA.
Day 1 – Modelling and Analysis for Management
The first full day of Warwick Week 2 focused on the mathematical module of the semester, Modelling and Analysis for Management (MAM). The format of this day was a mix of lectures, group work and follow-up discussions in seminar groups of 40-50 people. The first few lectures were mainly a repeat of the content covered in video lectures from earlier in the course, covering normal distributions, sampling and regression analysis, and provided a refresher on those topics. These were followed by group exercises that required us to review a case study and answer questions that would be applicable in a real-life business scenario, showing us how we might want to use the MAM techniques in practice. We then convened in the seminar groups for a walk-through of the answers, demonstrating the actual approach that should be used, and allowing us to query any areas of uncertainty.
The final lecture for MAM introduced us to the concept of forecasting, and some of the limitations and pitfalls associated with the different techniques. As this was only an introduction it just outlined the basics, but I’m looking forward to covering this lesson in more detail during lesson 5. Following this there was an open discussion around how to approach the exam, which allowed us to ask questions about the exam format, and how best to be successful here.
After the MAM lectures we had two presentations from the WBS Alumni and PCD (Personal & Career Development) teams. The latter included a presentation from Taylor Houghton on a 360° assessment tool that we have access to as part of the MBA – I am really looking forward to using this later this year to get feedback from my peers.
Day 2 – Operations Management
The next module we covered was Operations Management. The format was quite different from previous Warwick Week days, as we were entirely in study groups or seminar groups of 40-50 for almost all the day. Personally I preferred this format as it allowed much more interaction with our peers and the lecturers. The latter also changed between groups for each of the sessions – this worked really well, giving us exposure to different learning styles, and helping us to stay engaged for most of the day.
Over the course of the day we covered a number of different topics, including Operations Strategy, Service Process Design, Supply Chain Management and New Product/Service Design. Each topic used a case study as a base for discussion, including the change in process design in an A&E department, the way suppliers are managed by various companies (it was interesting to hear views on General Motors and Toyota as I work with customers in the automotive industry), and the optimisation of process flow in a not-for-profit organisation. The sessions finished with a lecture that followed the programme ‘Designs on your…’ with Richard Seymour and Dick Powell, and how they worked with Shires to develop a new design for the toilet – this certainly gave us a rather fun end to the day!
Following the group sessions we had a lecture with the entire cohort to discuss the exam. An interested comment made during this session was that we are expected to take a selection of examples into the exam to refer to in our answers, however, the exam is closed-book so we need to recall these from memory. This is different to previous questions where we are provided the case study in written form, so I expect the next few months will need me to collect lots of examples, and include them in my revision schedule.
Day 3 – Marketing
The final day of this Warwick Week was allocated to the Marketing Module. The agenda initially looked very repetitive, with lectures all day except for one group exercise. However, the lectures were generally very engaging, with lecturers who were enthusiastic, funny, and ensured student participation either by direct interaction with the audience, or posing questions to get us to think how concepts would be applied. One very interesting exercise was when we were asked what word we would use to describe specific brands, including Sony, Land Rover, Walmart, Asda, and a number of others. I think many of us were surprised by the words used to describe some of the brands, and there was a wide a variety of answers offered which you would expect given the diversity of students in the room. However, it did demonstrate the impact that brand image has on buyer behaviour – although I don’t think some of their marketing departments would be pleased with words such as ‘old’ and ‘evil’!
At the break we were treated to a ‘tasting session’ – over the previous few weeks there had been a discussion on my.wbs about the marketing of Philadelphia’s Chocolate-flavoured cream cheese, so one of the tutors organised a tasting experiment. The results were generally in favour of the product, although there was quite a strong polarisation of results (some loved it, others hated it). Have you tried it?
The group exercise for Marketing looked at the transformation of the Burberry brand when Rose Marie Bravo took over as Chief Executive. This led to lots of discussion about the positioning of the Burberry brand, although it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between the positioning of the brand in 2003 (when the case study was written) and our view of the brand since then. It was a good example to use though, as it highlights some of the challenges that can be found with brand positioning.
As with other days, the last lecture of the day (and week) was used to discuss the exam. One of the interesting points from this lecture was a suggestion on how to approach an essay-style question in an exam environment (as opposed to in an assignment that can be completed over a number of weeks). I expect this technique will be useful not only in Marketing, but also the other two modules that are assessed by examination.
Here are some of the other meetings/activities I participated in at this Warwick Week:
- Electives Surgery – Prior to Warwick Week I signed up to an electives surgery to discuss my forthcoming electives choices. I’ll cover this process in a future blog post, but as the decision has to be made over the next month I thought it would be a good opportunity to run through some queries in advance. The advisor I met with provided some useful feedback, and we had a good discussion about my reasons for pursuing an MBA – I was very pleased as she helped address some of the concerns I had around some of the modules that really interest me. I now need to work through the choice of 40+ electives to select the 6 I wish to sign up for.
- Learning Resources Focus Group – Over lunch on Thursday I joined a focus group with the Learning Resources team at Warwick Business School. The purpose of this meeting was to get a view from students at various stages of the course on the learning materials, study groups and tutor engagement model. I provided feedback in a number of areas, including the my.wbs eLearning site and my view on the different media used (text, images, videos, live sessions, etc). We also discussed the different ways to engage students during the virtual live sessions, where I was able to share a number of ideas from work given that most of my internal meetings and training are held virtually.
- Course Dinner – As with Warwick Week 1, there was a course dinner which was open to students from both Warwick Week 2 and Warwick Week 3 (Year 2). This was another good networking opportunity, and it was a pleasure to spend some time chatting with a few of my blog readers.
That’s the second Warwick Week finished now; the next one will be in a year’s time. This will be a shame as I find these weeks a good way to reset the study plan, meet others on the course, and discuss some of the concepts we have been taught. However, next year I will be joining at least one face-to-face module run over a 5-day period, which I am really looking forward to as this will be a great opportunity to spend some more concentrated time with other students, and discuss in-depth some of the MBA topics.
Time now to return to my studies, and catch up slightly after taking a week away with family for a mid-semester break. My next post will probably be in a few weeks time, with an update on the elective selection process.