Friday, 25 October 2013

100 Not Out !!


Just a short note, as the videos posted here really speak for themselves, the Royal Holloway MBA cohort 2013/14 were challenged to create a short YouTube based team video that introduced themselves and explained why they chose to study at Royal Holloway.

Friday, 11 October 2013

You've been Pranked ! Undergraduate disrupts Marketing Management lecture with clever stunt

It isn't often that a student asks to be sprayed with their own shaving foam, having made a "surprise" (and particularly loud) entrance to a half-way through lecture.
But first I need to back up a bit and give you some context.  To emphasise the life skill of being on time for meetings I asked late arriving students not to come through the main doors, but to enter quietly at the back. There are probably rules about preventing late joiners and clearly securing doors would be in breach of health and safety rules. This is the 21st Century, after all.  I wrote and asked the small and intimate class of 250 odd over email and reinforced this on Moodle, our virtual learning environment. I challenged anyone arriving after :05 and invited them to present themselves to the whole class using the microphone. Quirky, jokey - but hopefully putting across a serious and important message in a way that will not cause any lasting harm or upset.
So this week Philip (pictured below) fulfilled his promise to a friend on being gifted a formula one driving suit to use it in some way with big impact. He pranked his class mates by bursting through the doors I am so precious about and shocked the living daylights out of everyone.  Me included.  Just two minutes before I'd remembered that the stunt was going to happen, but then in full flow I'd forgotten and was genuinely taken aback by the particularly lion like roar that Philip produced.  No acting was required (I'm a good thing) as the gobsmacked audience watched on.  I was told afterwards by a few students that at the point when I got the shaving foam out and started blasting this, the penny dropped for many.   
The lecture was on the topic of positioning and rather fortuitously we had been considering advertising's need to create a differentiated position in the minds of the consumer using creative, entertaining, highly memorable (meh-mor-able) impressions. 
I go to bed tonight a happy marketer, that was certainly a lecture that Royal Holloway BSc Management students will remember for a long time.........
Lecturer foams student during lecture prank


Monday, 7 October 2013

"To be or not to be ?" Philosophy of Management: Royal Holloway MBA

MBA 2013-14 Candidates Exploring London & building powerful teams 
Having spent the freshers week completing necessary registration protocols and getting involved in a number of introductory team building sessions that included careers, academic writing and input from the MBA director, the second week of the Royal Holloway MBA takes on a different format, with the so called 'short and fat' delivery mode used to expose candidates to managerial perspectives on philosophy. 
Nigel Laurie
In reflecting on an intensive second week focussed on building a strong foundation in management philosophy module leader Nigel Laurie stated "The MBA cohort was very responsive with high energy levels in the group work.  The black gorilla video was a great warm-up.  They clearly appreciated the theatre trip and the play ("Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas" see previous blog entries) made a really useful extra case on human nature and motivation which they were keen to discuss."
London icons: phone box, Big Ben and a red bus

Seema Bhandari stated "I really enjoyed the philosophy of management module we studied in our second week. I think it is  a great kick start to the MBA programme.  The concept,  theories and relation to the real world provided useful insights into the management world.  It will definitely help to develop a powerful thinking process which is essential for this course.  It also helped obtain a sense of relief from various anxiety and stress related feelings experienced during the pre-joining, anticipation phase of the MBA programme." 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Ritual Slaughter ? Royal Holloway MBA's theatrical learning experience

Lights, camera, action ! Ooops, that's the wrong genre ! Take your seats please we are about to embark on an archetypal London experience, live theatre.  The MBA group attended a sexually charged biopic of an average chap whose live took an unfortunate path, whilst offering huge financial success, combined personal ruin.
Clever introduction of social media promotion ?
Whilst many MBA candidates had seen opera or musical theatre, for several it was a double first experience.  The world class offering of rich productions is often taken for granted by those of us lucky enough to live and work close to central London. 
The play (The ritual slaughter of Gorge Mastromas at the Royal Court, written by Dennis Kelly, famous for hit West End show 'Matilda') had a rather obvious and simple core proposition around power, greed and personal ethics.  Put simply the inversion pitched to the audience was that as a young man Gorge did the morally right thing, but often faced poor outcomes from this behaviour e.g. handing in a wallet he found and being accused of stealing it.  The pivotal turning point came as a young adult in business when he chose personal greed over sound ethics and thence began his simultaneous journey to material success but personal ruination. 
As a signatory to the the UN treaty for responsible business education, Royal Holloway prides itself in significant and engaging approaches to ensuring students benefit from a strong ethical dimension to their programme.  The inclusion of a challenging experiential drama input on the MBA saw the teaching team awarded a prestigious College teaching award in 2013 and the experience learned from this novel approach will hopefully lead to a publication. 
MBA students were challenged by  drama professionals Alex Turner and Dr Emma Brodzinski to consider a number of factors beyond the obvious story presentation, looking at theatrical constructs, use of body and props/scenery.  Which got me thinking more critically about what was beholden to me.  I must admit that I am a cinema person.  I don't understand the motivation for live performance - all that stress, rehearsals, to do the same thing 5,6 or even 7 times a week, for weeks and months on end.  Surely it gets mechanical, uninspiring or just old ?  Isn't it better to spend lots of time getting the perfect delivery and capture it forever. (I'm thinking Ann Hathaway's tear ridden performance (take 4 I think) during the film version of Les Miserables, or Les Glums as it's know by the in crowd.)
I found the final twenty minutes played out a rather slow and predictable Christmas Carol pre-ghost Scrooge like ending of a 'successful' business man living out a lonely, pitiful existence, quite tricky to put across without the benefit of a passage of time constructs (e.g. costumes, make up, grey hair - remember THAT scene in Notting Hill when Hugh Grant's character forlornly walks through the market whilst the seasons change around him ?) 
That said the long show had pace and energy, which is quite surprising given that the first scene plays out with the whole cast front of stage sitting on cheap, grey, plastic chairs. No real scenery to speak of. I love contemporary, edgy theatre, but surely they were going to have some props and a bit of a set ?  I don't think I can sit through two plus hours of line up ping pong, even if it was sublimely timed, poignant and often funny.  The story telling, using a simple life story from conception (graphically described as an unplanned pregnancy) and entertainingly through childhood's embarrassing lows, with the occasional high.  This frank, blunt and well crafted dialogue clearly touched the audience (a cracking technique, most of us can easily related to stories of adolescence ?) sufficiently  to carry forwards through a rather elongated office based set that provided the ethical turning point in Gorge's life.
Impact lighting par excellence
During the line up the powerful technique of using three different voices conveying the same or similar idea using different forms of words was quite powerful.  Repetition of key messages (just like the news at 10) should have left most of the audience with a clear understanding of the key dilemma, goodness or cowardice.  Super silky smooth timing saw lines flawlessly delivered, with mesmerising impact carrying a sedate and simple story forwards in a highly engaging manner, a function of the clear multi-layered tapestry woven by the dialogue.  The writer is famous for having penned hit musical based on Roald Dahl's book "Matilda", the only show I have actually walked out on. I have slept through a few, but never actually walked out.  Thankfully this one was different.  Enough trails were left dangling to avoid telegraphing the various surprising twists and turns (that didn't feel like surprises when you actually got there...).  (Un)certainty about the shape of things to come was an intelligent dual edge intertwined into the fabric of the play.  No dumbing down here, complexity kept us guessing where the story would lead.  My ever so clever friend, and arty type, Fiona didn't guess it right either.
I found some elements still left me feeling ambiguous.  Red stars in the night sky signified progression, but how ?  Red light lines were indicative of share price indices (or cardio outputs ?) and a portacabin office board room was meant to convey the idea of big business hard nosed deal making.  The set came up lacking here, (cheap, empty, unrealistic space) perhaps because there was a huge attempt at greedy make or break deal making that just didn't feel authentic. 
MBA candidates were very positive about the experience (but it's always nice to have a few drinks and a bite to eat with your new class mates beforehand) although I was a tad concerned that the snappy humour (coarse I suspect is an appropriately technical description), cultural references and fast delivery might be challenging to non-native English speakers.  The gloomy conclusion was notably polar to a typical Hollywood block buster hero-saves-the-world everyone-lives-happy-ever-after ending, but that must be one of the joys of straight plays in theatre, the challenge is to engage and move people, not proffer false dawns and temporary trans location from tedium and misery. 

I didn't feel a numb bum, nor nod off - signs of a positive experience.  To be repeated me thinks !