MBA London Symposium heads to the Royal Institution

Cass students hear from explorer Levison Wood at flagship elective

The fifth Cass MBA London Symposium continued on Wednesday at the Royal Institution in Mayfair with a keynote address by explorer Levison Wood.

Levison, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, who combines a career in writing, photography and broadcasting, spoke about An Explorer’s Network – People, Places and Perspectives. He gave an exclusive behind-the-scenes view from some of his expeditions in the Middle East, Central America and Asia, and discussed his personal motivations and what he has learned along the way.

“Travel taught me the value of self-reliance, learning about other cultures, showing enthusiasm and getting stuck in.  If you take risks, doors will open.  But what it also taught me is that journeys are about the people you meet along the way and, most importantly, if you want to achieve great things, you need to surround yourself with great people.  It’s all about the team,” he said.

Explorer’s mindset invaluable for leaders

Dr Sionade Robinson, Associate Dean, MBA Programmes said she was thrilled to welcome Levison, one of the world’s most renowned British explorers, to the Symposium.

“At Cass we talk about how an explorer’s mindset is important for leaders when they think about addressing change, building resilience and thinking creatively to achieve their goals.  Having Levison with us today is a great opportunity to blend the Symposium theme of Network Effects with the explorer’s mindset that underpins our curriculum at Cass.”

Technology, humanity and network effects

Students also heard from Dr Harvey Lewis, Associate Partner at Ernst and Young, who spoke about Technology, humanity and network effects.  Dr Lewis suggested it was time to reboot the debate on the future of work and balance the need for machines with using existing human skills. He also spoke about the importance of the business leaders of tomorrow – Cass MBA students –inspiring the organisations that they lead.

“Our networks are hybrids of humans and machines – but the technology is not as good as people think it is yet.  AI is not the same as human intelligence and is not infallible.  We have to be clear about what we want the machines to do and why we think the machines are better. It is critical that we think about placing humanity at the heart of our networks,” he said.

Accelerating the fight against climate change

Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 at the Climate Group, spoke about How corporations join efforts to accelerate the fight against climate change effects and redefining global electricity markets.

Sam explained how RE100 uses its corporate networks to inspire change and to ensure electricity corporates – who use 50 per cent of the world’s electricity - stay in business.  He said the key to successful change was: “focus and clarity of mission, timing and tenacity and effective communication and collaboration.”

Designing services for the always-on consumer

Mark Sherwin, Managing Director, Accenture, was next up, speaking about Connected Creativity: Designing services for the always-on consumer.

Mark leads Accenture Interactive’s global Digital Customer Services Offering, chairs the Digital Panel for the Institute of Apprenticeships and was recognised last year as one of the three most influential ‘Digerati’ by the Drum.

A Cass MBA alumnus who spoke at the first ever Symposium, Mark was given a warm welcome back as he shared work that Accenture is undertaking to analyse the trends consumers follow and then redesigning businesses to match those trends.

“We need to design business and services to work in micro moments – the times that you have on your phone in between appointments or while you’re waiting for something.  We need a customer-centric design process that incorporates both humans and machines,” he said.

Mark said companies needed to design outside the line and own the customer experience, always asking what value and unique experiences they are providing for their customers.

“Businesses need strong digital foundations, disruptive leadership and design-led innovation – businesses that succeed are those who are willing to think the unthinkable.”

After the morning of lectures at the Royal Institute, students spent the afternoon getting an inside track on London’s range of diverse organisations including Accenture, Starling Bank, Ernst and Young and Dentsu. Students also had the opportunity to attend a sustainability masterclass with speakers from EY, Giftrete, Landsec, S&P Global Ratings and Climate-KIC and Cass sustainability expert, Professor Bobby Banerjee.

About the Symposium

The Symposium will continue at the National Gallery on Thursday.  The theme of the week is ‘Network Effects’.

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.  Plenary lectures are held this week at three of the capital’s iconic cultural institutions; the British Museum, the Royal Institution and the National Gallery.

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.