Deputy Mayor of London concludes the MBA London Symposium at The National Gallery

MBA elective celebrating its fifth successful year at Cass.

Collective investment

Speaking in London’s prestigious The National Gallery was James Chew, on ‘How networks built a national investment company’.

James is Global Head, Regulatory Policy at HSBC, Director of BGF and Honorary Visiting Professor of Banking and Business Growth at Cass. He was a part of the founding team who started BGF in 2011 - a new collective investment vehicle for the UK. BGF’s aims were to fill the gaps in the UK market

He said, "We needed to scrap the old model of short-term serial investments and get closer to businesses. We actually built a physical network of branches across the UK, despite living in a digital age."

Collaborative capitalism

BGF’s networks are crucial to their success. They employ around 160 people but they leveraged their connections in order to scale up and deliver impact, for example, they can have a 3,000-strong talent network across the UK.

We co-opted people to ensure our networks work this had to be collaborative capitalism.

The world through the lens of luxury

Next on stage was returning speaker and brand expert Markus Kramer, who combines decades of deep client-side experience working in leading marketing positions for brands such as Harley-Davidson and Aston Martin. He is also a Senior Honorary Visiting Fellow at Cass.

In his talk ‘Exploring the World Through the Lens of Luxury’, he said, "There’s a lot that we can learn from the luxury goods sector. Luxury brands create value that commands huge monetary worth."

The global luxury market is worth around €3 trillion and is still growing. Markus added, "The sector has grown faster than many others, post-financial crisis."

Demonstrating social power

Normal marketing strategies are turned upside down in the case of luxury brands. “Products come first,” said Kramer. “Then come quality… the customer isn’t an immediate factor because demand always outweighs supply.”

He added, “Luxury is not about function. It’s about status and the concept of elevation. Owning luxury goods is a demonstration of social power that can be seen throughout history. But things are changing and consumers are moving away from existentialism, or the desire to own things and are now seeking experiences. Modern consumers want to connect more, live in the moment.  Modern luxury is about ‘knowing’ not ‘showing’.”

Collaboration is the new leadership

The third session was given by René Carayol MBE on ‘Collaboration is the New Leadership.’

René Carayol is a renowned speaker, leadership guru, writer, broadcaster and author and an Honorary Visiting Professor at Cass. He focuses on inspirational leadership and high performing cultures, bound together with his compelling ‘spike’ philosophy founded on his own board level experience.

A leader who listens and builds a collaborative working environment always inspires their staff to go the extra mile.

On the current leadership models, he said, "Nothing is best done alone anymore and the days of the boss knowing everything are gone. Hierarchies are failing to deliver in today’s businesses."

Drawing on decades of experience and examples of the effectiveness of collaborative leadership, Rene delivered an energetic and inspiring session that delivered a simple call to action: create connections, create engagement and create trust.

Be a specialist

René believes that organisations work best when team members not only collaborate but work to their individual strengths. He encouraged people to think about their specialisms and concentrate on exceeding in those areas. He said, "You don’t need to be a generalist. Rather than be mediocre at everything, become brilliant at two or three things and then collaborate with others who bring different expertise to the table. Be unique, special and different."

London is Open

The last speaker of the fifth MBA Symposium was Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal.

Being open and entrepreneurial is built into London’s DNA.

Closing the day’s events, he spoke about how London has always been a city of opportunities. He said, "Businesses and investors flock to London because it is a hub for talent across sectors. Education in collaboration with skills development is the key to employability. But it’s not just about jobs for today, but also for tomorrow."

He spoke about how London’s talent-network is leading global innovation during a time of fast-paced disruption. He added, "London is collaborating with other cities to lend its expertise worldwide."

About the Symposium

The Symposium is an elective element of the MBA course which brings together over 150 students from all Cass MBA cohorts, as well as MBA teams from partner schools in South Africa and Europe.

The first Symposium was held in 2014 to celebrate Cass’s unique network inside the heart of one of the world’s best global cities. The Symposium mixes thought leadership in plenary sessions with a ‘backstage pass’ to some of London’s most iconic locations, brands and organisations which drive the city’s prosperity.

It is now the flagship MBA elective, providing students with excellent networking opportunities and access to some of London’s most prominent and respected business figures.

You can tweet about or from the Symposium using #LeadingTheAdventure.