Wednesday, May 28, 2008

e-Newsletter for May

Dear all,

They're packing away the giant marquee on the main lawn in front of the building. Given the downpours over the Bank Holiday weekend, we were really lucky with the weather at Saturday's graduation. The mix of sunshine and cloud was just about perfect for a Graduation - not too cold to be out on the lawn and not too hot to be dressed in cap and gown for several hours. It was my first ceremony where I got to read out the names, which was not as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be, and provided a really welcome sense of ownership and closure of the MBA programme.

One of the speakers remarked that the Henley MBA was not, should not be, an easy degree to get. I think just about all of you will agree with that, even if what is creating difficulty is not obviously part of the curriculum or mode of study. But I doubt anyone chooses Henley just to get the three letters (though don't knock it!). That's not to say that it's always clear at the beginning. I think the meaning of the Henley MBA emerges with and for you over time. Happily, our new curriculum helps you capture all of that via reflection and personal development, so it will be interesting to see how those of you in the new curriculum progress as compared to the old.

There's a lot to pack in to this newsletter, beginning with:

Results from the Board of Examiners

This is an occasional look at the sets of results presented to the Board, which has the task of passing the previous three months' grades for assignments, dissertations and exams, as well as any interim or final awards. It is sometimes queried why we have such a long hiatus between examination and result, but this masks the amount of checking and double-checking by marker, moderator, administrator and external examiner. I think it is an indication of how seriously we all take the assessment process, though I can also remember the endless wait for the grade (and this was back in the pre-online days when Henley wrote you a letter).

I'll outline the main pieces of assessment considered at the April Board of Examiners. Bear in mind that we are currently moving from one version of the MBA curriculum to another, so I will run through the older version first.

At Part One, only one Foundations of Management was marked in this time, and it passed. There were 11 Managing People and 18 Managing Information assignments. Two People assignments failed. The average mark on Managing People was C-. The average on Information was B+. One person sat, and failed, the Part One exam. Six re-sat this exam, of whom four passed. At Part Two, 98 Managing Marketing assignments were marked, with two fails. The average grade was B. 86 Managing Performance scripts produced no fails and an average of B, whilst in Managing Financial Resources there were 106 assignments, a B- average, and 3 fails. 88 people sat or re-sat the Part Two exam (plus another 8 in project management). The average overall grade for first-timers was C, and D for re-sits.

At Part Three, 223 Integrated Strategy Projects were submitted, with only 3 fails. The average grade achieved for ISP was B-. A lot of you sat the Part Three exam this time round (394!). All but 11 passed, and the average grade was C+. Of the 207 Dissertations submitted, 14 were failed by the Board. The average grade was B-.

In the new curriculum (Programme 5), 123 Dynamics of Management assignments were marked, with 7 fails. The average grade was C+. There were 126 Managing People and Performance/Managing Processes, Systems and Projects (quite a mouthful) integrated assignments, of which only one failed and the average passing grade was B-. Another 14 Project Management integrated assignments were marked, with no fails, and the same B- average. 111 Managing Financial Resources scripts produced 11 fails and an average of C+. At Stage One, exam one, there were 108 people, of whim 94 passed with an average grade of C-. 110 Stage One Personal Development Review and Plans were submitted, and all passed.

Home Straight

With graduation ringing in our ears, it is timely to reflect on the Home Straight Community. Richard Lacey noted that 29 of the 48 Henley-Based graduands in the afternoon ceremony had been actively engaged in the HSC. The event run at the College on May 18th was very successful, with interesting sessions on use of the Learning Resource Centre (e-Library) for research, and tips on managing your supervisor. The next event will be some time in the autumn. Its' all gone very quiet on the Home Straight Blog, though, with no new entries since April. If you're past your Dissertation Due date and would like access to this, a space to share experiences and tips, then email me.

Researcher's Corner

There are several requests and enquiries about research this month. These are opportunities for you to participate or help with other people's research. Sometimes these are faculty members, other times fellow Programme Members.

1. A colleague is looking to run 20-30 minute telephone interviews with managers responsible for making the property decisions in their company - the research is for the Investment Property Forum and is looking at the extent to which occupiers consider sustainability issues when deciding to buy or lease offices. Please email me if you know the name of the person in your organisation who deals with real estate issues (especially if it is you!).

2. David James reports that "O2 have a potential MBA Dissertation opportunity, exploring churn data and tipping points that actually looks really sexy and great fun." Anyone who would like to know more can contact him directly.

3. Professor Abby Ghobadian writes: "Prior research shows that the processes by which resources are managed (e.g., how managers obtain, bundle and deploy tangible and intangible assets) have major effects on firm’s performance. This survey is designed to enrich our understanding of how different approaches to these processes work together to create value for the firm. Additionally, we seek to understand how other factors affect resource management processes. For example, how does the firm’s risk preferences and availability of slack affect resource management? Or how does the competitive context (external factors) influence the efficacy of these processes? Or how different functional managers approach resource management? To find answers to these important questions relevant to the practice of management we are conducting an international study in the USA, China, and countries where Henley has alumina.

I very much hope that you will support this important research by completing this survey. Based on the results of pilot studies, this survey should require approximately 12-15 minutes to complete."

This one is also featured in the Alumni newsletter, which some of you will also receive. I assured Abby that no-one would fill it out twice...

4. Researcher Mollie Dickenson writes: "We've had an enquiry to do a small piece of research for a packaging company called Sonoco = in store displays. They've got some market research data which needs sorting, organising and following up with tel calls to produce a matrix/report (by the summer) of the companies analysed against a set of criteria, for them to consider in terms of making acquisitions. Small budget on offer. Do you know anyone who might be interested to do this?" For more details, contact Mollie.

5. Finally, our business development team have received some requests from potential applicants who are interested in speaking with current programme members who "initially struggled with the programme and then overcame these issues." Quite possibly that is all of you - but if you'd be willing to chat via email with candidates about your own experiences, please let Fiona Smith know.

Dissertation Clinic

The next Clinic is coming soon, set for June 6th, and is being organised by Kim Harris. For those who don't know, the Clinic is a day where you can get a refresher session on what the Dissertation is all about, followed by short one-to-ones with faculty members. It's really for those who do not yet have a supervisor assigned. Also, I should add that wherever possible we try to allocate time for tutors visiting in the Associate Network locations to run similar sessions. I ran one in South Africa and it was exhausting and uplifting in equal measure - a kind of Brief Academic Therapy session.

Reading Merger

You should all be receiving regular up-dates on the merger, either via newsletters or on the elearning area for your intake. Up-dates are also posted to our main web site. If you do not, please let me know and I'll see how we can let you know the latest. You're probably wondering what's changing here internally and the answer is still, 'not a lot.' We're all focused on business as usual for the MBA (and we're expecting to welcome new intakes in June - Henley-Based HB38 and Malta MT01 and Trinidad TR03). The date for the newly merged Business School to come into existence is August 1st, and we'll be seeing out the College in style with celebrations (probably with a melancholic tinge) on July 31st.

PE Hub, MBA Forum Good news....bad news

Way back in January I was asked by some of you to approach a website called to organise access in the MBA Forum. You'll be glad to hear that, in mid May, I got a positive reply and an access code: upperwest. However, this is an American site, with an American mentality, and it turns out that you also need an email address which ends in .edu to join. If anyone has any suggestions, I'll listen.

Family Day

I'm looking out of my window here at Henley and it is raining, but I'm sure it will have stopped by the time we get round to the Family Day on Saturday July 5th, so here's your monthly reminder to book early for the cream teas.

Finally, good luck to anyone who is going to sit an examination next week!

Chris Dalton
Director of Studies


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