Monday, 22 July 2013

Egham Plenary 2013 - Distance Learning Summer School

Another highly successful plenary (week long summer school) saw MSc and MBA International Management students join together from around the world for an informative and fun, week long event which took place at the School of Management Moore building. 
Fun Learning - week 1 students   Foto: Doby Manasieva
With a larger number of 'new' and recently enrolled students attending the introductory plenary at the beginning of their studies, the ingredients were nigh on perfect for a packed week of lectures, work shops, guest speakers and more serious social networking events in the evenings.  Unusually for Britain (& after an awfully cold and wet spring) the weather was kind with hot sunshine on the menu for most of the week. 
Cleveland Stanley said "The plenary session was awesome !  It was great to meet face-to-face with so many people (staff & students) who I connected with online.  The master class sessions were vital.  I also got lots of feedback from week 2 students - an unexpected benefit."  
Arijana & Cleveland in the Moore Lecture Theatre

Foto: Cleveland Stanley

Innovations this year saw students undertake an interactive team building session on the first day led by Alex Turner our professional drama resident, an approach that was trialled earlier in the year with the full time MBA group, with some considerable success.  Elective lecturer Prof. Chris Hackley introduced his Advertising and Promotions module and Dr Adrian Coronado (programme deputy director) ran a logistics exercise for the first time.   Alumnus Vik Pant hosted a session sharing his experience of leveraging his MBA in the work place combined with practical tips on how to get to grips with the dissertation. 
Hermant Sharma said "I like the idea of extending invitations to alumni students for sharing their experience, I firmly believe this definitely helps all the students whether new student or student who have already cleared a few modules."  
With over 110 attendees at the formal dinner event, which took place in the stunning picture gallery in Founders pictured below, Head of School of Management Jeffrey Unerman said "It was a really good atmosphere at the dinner, which reflects a really engaging plenary week."  Whilst Dean of the Faculty Bob O'Keefe stated "A great dinner with a great atmosphere. It was good to be reminded how good our DL students are."
Founders imposing Picture Gallery formal dinner with the Dean and Head of School     Foto: Doby Manasieva

Reflecting on a high energy week that certainly brought a buzz to the School of Management, Raoul Trentini wrote "This week was amazing, I could finally meet the teachers and know my classmates.   The stay on the campus and everything that was organised for us was fantastic."  and
Doby Manasieva stated "It was an invaluable blend of lectures, passionate case studies, presentations, good time of networking and exchange of experience with colleagues from various industries and from many nationalities and cultures. And all that was topped by surprising social events and great fun !"

Hearty English breakfast food - Programme Director Justin O'Brien knows how important getting the food right is ! 

Foto: Cleveland Stanley
Hermant Sharma noted "Whether it’s a day session or offsite activities, everything was very well planned from lodging to food to activities till the very end. Many thanks for making my week 1 plenary session experience full of wonderful memories including making new social network." 
First day of plenary  Foto: Doby Manasieva

The plenary week combines two different student groups, as mentioned above the first week, or introductory plenary is geared at introducing students to their distance learning studies and to help them build  a strong social network to help carry them through.  The other part of the week sees students who have nearly finished the programme, most just have a module or two outstanding, with usually just the dissertation to complete.  A new anonymised corporate partner set a very real case study for the seven student groups to consider in the B2B telecoms sector.  It was particularly challenging as there were a full range of topics involved from HR to competition regulation, Strategy to change management and detailed deck of financial data were provided that enabled detailed analysis to take place, with students required to put forward a three year business plan and present a strong argument to support their recommendations. 
Antoine Dalli reflected "Although Week 2 is a lot more challenging than Week 1, with the benefit of hindsight I can safely say that I have learnt & networked a lot more this time around than I did last year."
BBQ in the South Quad of Founders   Foto: Doby Manasieva
Opal Lu, full time MBA 2012/13 was invited to join one of the consultancy groups and found the experience very rewarding " I had lots of fun. It was a great experience."  Other members of Opals cohort joined in a number of the social events held during the week and the interaction across programmes was seen as a strong positive by all concerned. 
Cleveland Stanley "Sitting in on the week 2  live consultancy presentation was extremely valuable and should be highly recommended for introductory week 1 attendees." 
Much of the success of the plenary weeks comes down to the participants, however, the excellent support provided by the Distance Learning admin team of Sonia, Inga and Daniel was crucial in making this event as effective and enjoyable as was.  I would like to sign off this blog entry using the words of Antoine Dalli who said "thank you for your positive feedback & support & for the excellent organisation of the plenary."
Social Networking on the infamous Thames River Cruise     Foto: Doby Manasieva