Transformation, innovation and change are vital tools in creating the leaders of the future.
Global business consultancy Blackswan, ran a four day EMBA course with students from the University of Sunderland’s Business and Law faculty to help the future business leaders unlock their full potential.
Students took part in an intensive four days of activities including lectures, seminars, group activities and presentations with underlying themes of innovation and transformation that incorporated real world commercial themes with an academic underpinning.
Change starts with you
To change a business, and make it grow, you first need to look to yourself. Maurice Duffy helped students to look at how they can change their mindset to get in the right place to be able to change themselves.
Blackswan’s key goal is to transform business performance through the improvement of people, process and innovation.
And if you want to change an organisation, you must first change yourself.
Students learnt about the steps needed to learn what change you want to see and how to apply it.
Maurice’s innovative and empowering ‘New mindsets for new times’ presentation taught the students to open their minds, to acknowledge their fears and face up to them, and to ‘fake it until you make it’.
“I feel like I have an earthquake in my head”
Maurice led a workshop on Business Model Innovation focussing on customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners, and cost structure.
The workshop acted as refresher for the key factors to consider ahead of the students’ final assignment to create the concept and vision for a unique restaurant.
“It was interesting to speak to an alumni of this programme who shared her experiences”
Former EMBA student Olivia Steel gave students an insight into the world of work post graduation. Having completed the course last year and been offered a job on the back of her performance over the four days, students were given the chance to find out first-hand how her experiences at university and from the EMBA helped her in the world of work. And the potential for a job offer at the end of the course never did anyone any harm either.
“A closed door is not always locked”
In these times of austerity job offers can be hard to come by, and it’s vital to be prepared for an interview. Blackswan co-founder Karen Lee, led a presentation on how to build your personal brand, and wow in an interview.
“I always appreciate interview advice because it is very relevant to me at the moment”
Preparing for an interview is one thing. But seeing the process from the point of view of the employer gives a unique insight into how to conduct yourself, how to best prepare for those awkward questions, and how to make sure the interview ends on a positive note.
One student said: “It was scary getting interviewed by Karen, but it’s really helped prepare me for future interviews, as well as seeing the interview process from the point of view of the employer”
“Most people in leadership roles don’t have a full set of skills. All leaders are good at some things and not others. Great leaders will know their strengths and will play to them, and magnify them. But they will also know their weaknesses.”
Political strategist and former director of political operations for Tony Blair, John McTernan was a guest speaker who enthralled his audience with an informative question and answer session with topics ranging from Donald Trump rallies, the Iraq war, Brexit, and his time as a Thinker in Residence of South Australia and adviser to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
John McTernan said: “The future is the brightest currency. Don’t have a fight now if you can have it in the future, as seven times out of ten it won’t come to fruition if you wait.
“Almost every senior leader will have a coach or a mentor of some description – an array of support in the form of people they employ or people they bring in.
“If a politician were to have a coach, most people would say that meant they weren’t up to the job, as you’re measuring political leadership differently to business leadership.
“We will not apply the same standards to leaderships as politicians in the public eye.”
Questions from students also focused on the EU referendum, where John said: “The public don’t make the wrong decision. The voters have never been wrong in what they have decided. People are rational and irrational about immigration but they also care about the economy. In the end it’s the wallet that matters more.”
“I was refused entry back into the room after I returned late so I missed out on some potentially very important information”
Steven Maddison introduced the Blackswan TDNA tool to the groups, which can be used to describe, analyse and design business models.
As part of the final assignment, groups were asked to pick either Rio Tinto or the NHS as a case study and use the online questionnaire within TDNA to assess the current state and the desired future state of the business.
Using qualitative and quantitative research the groups presented back their findings.
The finale to the intensive four day event was the final assignment, the business model of a new restaurant in Canary Wharf.
Teams were tasked with creating a commercially viable unique restaurant concept, demonstrating their concept and vision, customer experience, value proposition, and creating a sample menu with a new product.
As well as presenting their ideas – complete with tacos and Guinness – the students were also required to peer assess.
Unique ideas included a Tex-Mex restaurant called Taco Shack, and hybrid restaurant Mix and Match which marries the culinary dishes of Germany, Vietnam, Malaysia and Greece, and The Canary Roast, which offers traditional British food with an exclusive twist.
Maurice said: “The quality of the final assignments was excellent.”
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