Saturday, 22 August 2015

Mack brew pub: The world's most northerly brewery

Presented here are some beer images I harvested following my visit to the worlds most northerly brew pub in Tromso, Norway.  This research adds to my on going focus on the entrepreneurial craft beer sector and up coming new project that will look at the business owners choice of label design.

Bjorn means bear

Northern Lights winter season beer

The world's most northerly brewpub Ol Hallen (Ale Hall) boast a vast array of beers on taps & taps & taps...

It's not just Coca Cola who use the Polar Bear to promote their products

Stemless glasses, ideal to appreciate a full nose

Bear-ter give him a beer ?

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Printing a 3D donut: RoHo management students find out how

Could you really print a three dimensional donut ?  

The answer according to Ricoh's Greg Plowman is yes !  It perhaps sounds a bit like the Fifth Element, pure science fiction doesn't it ?  However, human ears, noses and skin are already printable.  As are ultra light and strong parts for aeroplanes.  Technology for difficult or expensive to get to locations can be supported, not in the traditional manner with a building full of expensive spare parts, but with a 3D printer and some stored designs.  

Royal Holloway International Management distance learning MBA and MSc students got to learn about what some describe as the third industrial revolution (the second being the internet), and what Plowman believes with drive the same sorts of disruptive innovations for things that we have seen since Sir Tim Berners-Lee worldwide web began connecting us.  

Whilst new joiners to this long standing distance learning programme (the University of London was the first globally to offer a degree by correspondence) enjoyed a diverse programme of activities including academic masterclasses are blended with guest speakers from industry, a company field visit and social network events that include a River Thames cruise, quad BBQ and formal dinner.  Those at the business end of the their 2-5 year long flexible study programme participated in a second 'capstone' week, a live business consultancy undertaken in groups, which is designed to allow students to put into practise their newly acquired management skills.

Thanks to a link established by Royal Holloway MBA alumna Nitasha Chadha, who now works in the Japanese tech giants digital marketing team, colleagues Mike Crawford and Greg Plowman introduced the distance learning International Management students to the dynamic and exciting new world of opportunities that is being heralded by advances in 3D printing.  Working in small consultancy groups (pictured above and below) students undertook their capstone learning project, a demanding challenge from the Ricoh team to consider how best to enter the higher education marketplace with the Leapfrog product.  (Product launch here)

Completing student Abimbola reflected "Royal Holloway has brought people from different countries and continents together and our friendships have been taken to another level."  He also commented "It was an awesome fully packed week at the last Plenary in Egham. It was a truly memorable one."

Karen Wu stated "Before I came, I thought the plenary 2 wouldn’t be so hard, at least I expected to be able to join the Windsor Thames boat trip on Wednesday. We worked very long days with only half hour lunch break, harder than for my paid employment."  

"Having said that, I enjoyed the whole process very much, my team members came from different countries, different careers and different industries, luckily we didn’t have any cultural shock or languages barriers. It was a very harmonious team because we discussed and shared our ideas then we compromised with each other, plus we joked and ate together."

Jan reflected on his study distance study masters programme "I hugely enjoyed the two plenaries and do treasure the experiences I made with and at Royal Holloway and the great impact that the programme had on both my private and professional life! I do believe that many of the people will stay in contact for years to come." 

MBA Director at Royal Holloway Justin O'Brien concluded "It was really exciting to work on this enormously exciting project with Ricoh.  The business consultancy challenge was something the students really found inspiring and the quality of their presentations certainly reflected this."

If your mouth is salivating from the feature donut image, here is another high sugar bomb designs to get your lips around.  Enjoy !

Learning from a distance: making global connections @Royal Holloway

All work and no play ?  

BBQ in Fonders Quad

The summer solastice is the time of the year when MBA and MSc international Management distance learning students come together on the stunning Royal Holloway campus for what we call a plenary session, but is in reality 'summer school'.  

For new students a highly varied range of academic masterclasses are blended with guest speakers, a company field visit and social network events that include a River Thames cruise, quad BBQ and formal dinner.  This is very much designed as an introductory experience to help develop a strong social network at the beginning of the two to five year study journey.  A second 'capstone' week is undertaken towards the end of the programme, a live business consultancy undertaken in groups, which is designed to allow students to put into practise their newly acquired management skills.  

A traditional Royal Holloway BIG THUMBS UP !

Most candidates work demanding jobs full time, many also have family responsibilities, thus the expense and time required to participate in a week long residential learning experience is not always eagerly anticipated.  Time away from loved ones and work can create additional pressures, but the chance to meet the RoHo teaching team and put characters to the email names they are familiar with from their study programme in an action packed and fun learning and networking week is often felt to be a very positive experience for all.  

Field visit to entrepreneurial craft brewer Windsor and Eton Brewery

Week one highlights

Royal connections formed outside Windsor castle

One of the popular innovations introduced by MBA Director Justin O'Brien is the group analysis of a tourist destination.  Self formed, self managed groups agree and execute an afternoon and evening field visit, ostensibly to critically assess a tourist destination.  Justin explains "With some students visiting London for the first time there is an expectation that some time would be available to take in the key sights of central London whilst attending a University of London programme.  Of course others live in the city or know it really well and a careful balance of activities is required."   

Time for a stunning selfie outside Royal Holloway Founders building

The following morning groups recounted their experinces, often using storytelling.  One group took on a quest to find the blue door in the hit Richard Curtis movie Notting Hill and created a personalised video clip montage to celebrate their visit, below. 

Another reviewed the often over looked tower bridge experience (did you know it was a tourist destination ?) and discovered its high level walk way with glass flooring. 

A bridge too far ?

Our third group showed their diverse international credentials, being able to dissuade two Russian female tourists, invited to take group photos at Trafalgar Square, from stealing their phones.  A shot that for one student was the meaningful chance to re-visit this iconic location, the first since she featured as a yet to be born bump with her parents. 

The fourth group chose to head out of town and visit the ancient site of Stonehenge, in a provocative presentation that showed they were thinking out of the box they pondered "What would the Egyptians who had just completed the pyramids have thought of this technology ?"  

Random tourist photo shoot best practise: Tip#3 Always ensure shoes and clouds feature significantly, don't worry about the rest !

Here !  Here !  The Eye's have it ?

First day drama workshop - fast tracking team building

Planning in Notting Hill sunshine

The sun does shine, really...look !

Band of Buddies visit "The woman up the hill"

Students take their work seriously, is that really water and diet coke ?

Fun learning ?  Not your regular seminar...

Establishing a sense of place ?

Ready and able - Mike Robinson's leadership lessons from the battle of Waterloo had quite a few points to it !

Formal networking dinner

Making connections over during a coffee break

Fashion shoot on campus ?  The next Superdry ad for sure.

Spiking those memories - Shardn't forget this one ?

 Thanks to all the Distance Learning Plenary 2015 students for sharing their photos.  I have tried to use as many as I could, without going over the top.  I hope you enjoyed this collection of memories.

Justin O'Brien, MBA Director, Royal Holloway

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Bermuda Triangulation: Justin visits MBA graduate Ibou Barry

2013 MBA Ibou Barry meeting Justin O'Brien in Hamilton, Bermuda

During a family holiday to the idyllic Atlantic island of Bermuda MBA Director Justin was delighted to be able to meet up with MBA alumnus Ibou Barry who graduated from Royal Holloway in 2013.  

Over evening dinner in the picturesque wharf side setting, watching sunset over Hamilton harbour, Ibou reflected on his two years worth of working and living experiences since returning home stating "The MBA helped with understanding the bigger picture of business, I use concepts learned throughout the course, not just those specific to marketing."

Since graduating Ibou was promoted to be VP Sales and Marketing - Beer Brands for one of the largest beverage distribution companies, Burrows Lightbourn Ltd, on the island, where he has an exciting and varied role that encompasses developing business-to-business placement of the companies portfolio, which includes giant brew brands Sam Adams, Heineken and Coors.  Having just jetted in from a conference in Golden, Colorado, the famous Rocky Mountain home of US beer giant Coors, and outlining a hectic summer schedule of events and promotions, Ibou was looking forwards to being able to squeeze in a weeks vacation in late August, to spend precious time with his Canadian accountant wife and young daughter.  

Rather inevitably, after pondering the new English Premier League and the dual curses of fat Sam and new (Olympic) stadium soon to be experienced by Ibou's favourite team West Ham, the conversation got on to the local economic situation.  Business however has not been easy, with the population in decline, down 5,000 to just 63,000 permanent inhabitants, twenty months of consecutive negative economic growth and insurance industry job losses driven by consolidation and rationalisation.  On the positive, there have most recently been some signs of growth recovery.

The choice by reigning Americas cup winning team Oracle to defend their prestigious sailing title in Bermuda in 2017 is hoped by many to be a catalyst to re-float a listing economy that is underpinned by flagging global insurance operations and a lethargic air tourism sector.    However with four times sailing Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie leading the surge from the English challenger team, talk of hosting a second Oracle team defence on the islands is possibly a little optimistic.  Famously helicoptered in to rescue the US Oracle team back in 2013 the master tactician Ainslie clawed his team back from a near terminal 8-1 losing position to a win by just 44 seconds in the last race, bringing home an unlikely 9 to 8 US victory against a strong Kiwi team.

Bermuda, through its overtly centralised tourist board, offers a very traditional touristic proposition; surprisingly hire cars are banned and the high price premium once justified because of immaculate and colourful houses, jacket and tie dining dress codes, pristine pink sand beaches and a distinct colonial hospitality identity which includes wearing long socks and bright Bermuda shorts seems to have failed to keep pace with contemporary consumer preferences.  Although our family very much enjoyed no hustle relaxing in a safe, clean and beautiful luxury seaside holiday environment. 

In recent decades infrastructure innovation has been bogged down by slow and misguided tourism development that perhaps mistakenly chased after low spending cruise travellers, whilst neglecting higher value (longer, bigger spending) air travellers, who predominantly hail from USA's eastern seaboard and England.  With just one major hotel development since the seventies and a regulatory environment that rather precludes international investment, the positive allure of the "step back into the old world" has been over taken, as younger generations perceive low rise, quaint Bermuda as being both tired and rather expensive.  Newer, nearby destinations such as Turks and Caicos offer modern eco luxury and the Cuban novelty that is authentically under developed thanks to years of communism and a US embargo (now ceased).  A large multi-million Ritz-Carlton hotel is targeted for opening in time for the Americas Cup, with large cruise ships mooring up to offer crucial additional event capacity.  Taxi drivers were enthusiastically discussing the merits for a number of other proposed hotel developments that could see their protected April through October summer season boosted by additional visitors.  

Unsurprisingly over the course of the evening we certainly got to chew over a number of interesting issues and exchange island insider and visitor perspectives.  The curse of the MBA's business analysis mind ?

The question that had to be asked - what about the MBA return on investment ?    

Ibou very much felt his investment in the Royal Holloway MBA was worthwhile, even though it took him away from his wife and young daughter for nearly a year.  Whilst some aspiring MBAs he felt harboured unrealistic get rich quick salary expectations, the benefits of the general management masters programme were very much proven in the following two years, in salary. status and challenging and meaningful work.    

An example of the stunning pink sand beach at Horseshoe bay