I am delighted to report that this year’s MBA international consultancy trip was a resounding success.
Following months of preparatory work, we finally arrived in Jakarta late on Saturday 12th May. Following a day of rest, we began our task in earnest on Monday morning. We started the day at Binus Business School in south Jakarta. Our students had two sessions: the first, an overview of ASEAN trade; the second, basic Bahasa Indonesia language skills. Following a brief lunch, we then headed to another part of the city to visit Pernakpernikku Ceramics, an relatively young Indonesian company employing thirty craftsmen. Here we met the company’s CEO, got a feel for the products, and discussed the company’s aspirations and practical requirements in more detail. Although Pernakpernikku has already taken the first tentative steps into international markets, it was seeking our assistance to develop an appropriate international expansion strategy, with a focus on European markets.
On Tuesday morning, we visited the Jarkata British Embassy and had an extremely constructive conversation with the Trade and Investment Director, Deputy Director and Operations Manager. Among other things, they gave us guidance in respect of the best way to communicate professional advice to Indonesian businesses without inadvertently alienating key personnel, or opening up new areas of uncertainty. Following this meeting, our MBA students then had all the information they needed to spend the next two days developing a detailed international expansion strategy for Pernakpernikku Ceramics.
At the end of the week, the students presented their strategy and associated recommendations. The presentation took place in front of Pernakpernikku’s CEO, Binus University Faculty, a film crew and myself. Their key recommendations were threefold  a bifurcation of the Pernakperkikku brand so as to distinguish between tourist and premium product lines;  a significant increase in pricing in respect of the premium product lines (justified, in part, by Veblen economic theory); and  clear direction in respect of specific international e-commerce opportunities.
This year, four MBA Student Consultants flew out to Boston to carry out work on behalf of an international manufacturing and processing company. With a turnover in excess of $50m, the company has yet to enter European markets. With this as their brief, our students put together a comprehensive market entry strategy for the organisation which included detailed branding, pricing and positioning recommendations, as well as specific advice as regards social media. They formally presented their findings at the Sawyer Business School to the two of the firm’s vice presidents, as well as the founder’s son. All were extremely impressed; so much so that the company has already entrusted them with some follow-up work, which will be fed into their final report.
The MBA Student Consultants were superb; serious, focused and professional. Te staff here at the Sawyer Business School all appreciated their very evident effort throughout the week and the preliminary results of the project showed it.
James Long, one of the student consultants had this to say:
The Boston consultancy trip was a fantastic group experience. The brief that the company supplied to the group prior to travelling was comprehensive and required the group to remain totally focused throughout. Lectures from Mike Barretti gave the group a great start to the week and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn from Mike who is vastly experienced but also current in his subject matter, also a fantastic host. The week was structured superbly by Tom who made sure that the maximum was taken from the experience, his hard work behind the scenes was truly appreciated by the group.
In my view the residential trip is a must for any MBA student, It allows every aspect of the course to be used in context under testing circumstances and results in great satisfaction. For younger students the week would give a true reflection of the working environment and would be a good addition to any CV, for the more mature student it’s great to be out of the comfort zone to implement the knowledge gained through the MBA.
Lawrence Howes, another member of the group, said this:
The Boston consultancy trip was a great experience that allowed the academic teachings over the course of the MBA to be combined and used in a real life business situation.
The visit to the company incorporated with the lectures received from Prof Mike Barretti gave a rounded approach to the week, with the presentation to the company being well received on the final formal day.
The residential trip to Boston is a must for any MBA Student as it gives real credence that all the hours and hard work from the modules are relevant and can be applied to any business in the UK or further afield.
The planning put in at both the University of Suffolk in the UK and the Suffolk University in Boston, plus the tireless hours put in by Dr Tom Vine, prove to me that this is a relationship for the future and both universities will prosper from continuing the connection.
The University of Suffolk ‘revalidates’ its degrees periodically. On a year-to-year basis we review the modules that we teach to ensure that these remain both useful and current. Every five years however we pause to engage in a root-and-branch review that, in effect, re-imagines our degrees. This process the University terms ‘revalidation’ and at present we are preparing for the revalidation of our MBA (Master of Business Administration ). What are we doing to re-imagine our MBA? I am glad you asked…
We are making a number of changes designed to ensure that our MBA continues to prepare participants for leadership and executive positions. In a blog I can only highlight a few of these changes so I will pause to pinpoint the following developments:
We have reviewed the content of our modules to ensure that, as far as possible, students work on ‘live’ (you will note I refuse to say ‘real world’) problems. In addition we have added more formative assessments to ensure that, as our students learn to become the ‘practical theorists’ that modern organizations need, they receive timely feedback on their ideas and plans.
Finally (within the confines of this brief account) it is also worth noting that we have changed the titles of our modules. This apparently cosmetic change is, for me, perhaps the most significant development, because it is designed to remind staff and students alike that although we generally refer to ‘management’ and ‘organizations’ as nouns; as things they are in truth more usefully constructed as verbs. And if you hope to make a difference in the (real) world you might do well to recall that managing and organizing are processes that we enact between us…