MBA London Symposium 2021

Every year the Business School (formerly Cass) organises the London Symposium for its MBA students curated with a theme that is best suited for the changes taking place in London and around the world.

With the pandemic still prevalent in many places, it has become very important for businesses to bring in new strategies to respond to changing environments, new approaches and technologies to be persistent and innovate in this new normal. Thus, the theme of this year’s Symposium was “Perseverance & Ingenuity” which gave us insights into how AI, Technology, Astropreneurship, ESG, Cryptocurrency and Retail etc. are working in these changing times.

The three days virtual elective started at a high point where we had the opportunity to interact with the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman William Russell who discussed ‘Green Gilts' and how the businesses that put environmental resilience at their core will be highly valued and desirable in the future of London.

Lord Mayor

Following the Lord Mayor’s discussion John Dickie, CEO London First discussed the various sectors that will recover faster in the post-pandemic world and their plan for these sectors to bring in change. We discussed how Brexit fits in the post-covid plans and how the transport industry specifically needs a holistic approach to grow as a network.

London First

The Head of programmes at Tech Nation and a Business School Alumni Praveen Danda discussed the positives of the pandemic for the tech industry and how it has created a level playing field across nations and regions with the rise in the digital economy resulted by  the work from home resolution. The high point of her discussion was around how VCs are investing in companies like Giki Zero, Hark, Electron and Zeigo etc. to promote ESG.

Praveen Danda

The world’s leading executive coach Rene Carayol who has worked with big names like Apple, Google, Barclays, P&G around inclusion and diversity in leadership brought out the emotions of the participants via unforgettable and unmissable stories about racism. He talked about the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership rather than the intelligence quotient.

Create trust, and everyone goes the extra mile

Rene Carayol

By the end of the first day, we also got the opportunity to discuss the future of AI in sports with Chris Brady about how AI takes the jobs of people but also creates new jobs for a greater number of people, with some skillsets changes. I have recently started following the F1 races and the discussions around how in the future drivers like Hamilton might not be present in the race to make human mistakes. The car will be driven by AI and Robots, which opened a deep trail of thought for me and various other participants about the role of AI in various other sports and how it will change the sports and the betting industry.

The second day had me thinking about the future of various digital currencies in the market and the role it will play in how payment systems are changing the way business is done. The day started with the Head of Future Technology at Bank of England, William Lovell explaining the use of digital currencies in the wholesale and retail sides of the financial sector and Julian Sawyer, CEO of Bitstamp, the cryptocurrency exchange shedding light on a more detailed role of cryptocurrencies in the financial service industry. With all the current news that follows cryptocurrencies and their future in the payments industry, it was enlightening how BOE is also thinking about the future and use cases of such currencies in the future.

The other parts of the day were more on the opportunities in Astropreneurship in sectors like energy, health, construction and transport. The use of AI and advances in computer visions to tackle deforestation, improve farming and set up services in Moon and Mars.

The one speaker I most connected to was Gordon Wilson, PwC as my life trajectory has been similar to his. He mentioned how he moved from External Audits to ESG Audits and brought about non-financial audits into his profile. He invoked the thought about how I can leverage my knowledge of audits into a more ESG based profile and help companies build a more comparable matrix around ESG which is the talk of the town as of 2021.

One of the most exciting speakers was Richard Browing who has been called the true figure of ingenuity as he founded the company called Gravity and developed a business model around human flights using jet packs. He brought in the idea of planning the financial and reputational downside before getting into any new business so that one is aware of when they need to drop the plan and start their plan B.

Richard Browing

We also saw Dr Robert Zubrin founder of The Mars Society talk about life on the red planet and how any one of us could be the first one to be on Mars. We discussed the importance of life on Mars and how it will open new opportunities to human beings.

These three days have been the epitome of a learning experience for me and my fellow MBA students as we came across so many talented and successful leaders in various sectors and businesses and got an opportunity to discuss the future of these businesses and their role in the ever-changing life post-covid and its impact on our roles as leaders of the future.