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Programme overview

SME Growth Challenge programme overview

The SME Growth Challenge is an innovative programme which aims to dramatically enhance the performance and competitiveness of high potential companies. Cambridge Judge Business School has delivered programmes in India in partnership with the government of the Kerala province and in East Anglia in partnership with Santander. This is creating a diverse and global network which will enable the benchmarking of problems, comparisons among the different locations, and unique access to new management ideas from growth regions. We are looking to launch programmes in other locations across the world including Bangalore (India), Shanghai (China), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and in other regions around the UK. 

The SME Growth Challenge, using the latest thinking and drawing on decades of experience in supporting growth, recognises that although growing firms face common challenges, each is unique and requires a bespoke approach to achieve its full potential. Through a process of deep engagement with leadership teams, Cambridge Judge Business School will understand the challenges facing each participating business and help them to articulate, and systematically implement, their plans for growth. The programme, delivered over 12 months, aims to develop each firm's managerial capability by setting attainable objectives and helping them achieve these objectives through collaborative problem solving and monitoring their progress through key performance indicators.

The programme is made up of a series of six workshops which provide access to the latest management thinking, facilitate the sharing of insights about commonly experienced challenges and a range of possible solutions. These will be augmented by regular company visits from dedicated Cambridge Judge Business School faculty members.

Programme objectives

The SME Growth Challenge programme is designed to help CEOs and senior managers:

  • Develop and implement a growth plan for your business that will significantly accelerate the growth of your company
  • Better understand the role of your leadership team in accelerating growth
  • Be able to define and articulate your business's value proposition
  • Design a business model capable of sustaining growth
  • Develop a 'go-to-market' strategy for your products and services
  • Address'unique' company-specific challenges
  • Gain exposure to peer CEOs and their businesses to challenge your own performance against these benchmarks
  • Establish a network of contacts for both business and personal development purposes.

Programme structure

The programme will begin with an on-site diagnostic visit by a member of the School's faculty. This faculty member will support you throughout your journey and provide a point of contact within the School.

The topics addressed at each of the six one-day workshops will be informed by the needs identified during the diagnostic phase of the Growth Challenge. They are likely to include:

  • Defining your current business model
  • Value innovation and shaping your value proposition
  • Marketing strategy and tactics
  • Understanding the competitive landscape
  • Developing your leadership team
  • Financing your firm

A key component of the programme will involve collaborative problem-solving and learning from the experiences of other participants. In doing so, CEOs will build the management capabilities of their organisations. These results rest on the condition that the CEOs commit to attending the workshops and seeing their action plans through.

Dates for the SME Growth Challenge

Module 1 Thursday 26 and Friday 27 September 2019
Module 2 Thursday 28 and Friday 29 November 2019
Module 3 Thursday 23 and Friday 24 January 2020

Please note it is mandatory to attend all three modules.

Module 1

Day 1 Day 2
Define your current strategic position Viewing the company from customers' eyes (value curves)
Lunch/Networking Lunch/Networking
Marketing for growth Understand the possible growth paths and the selection process
Strategy event  

Articulate current strategic position; Validate value curves; Define three growth options and select one; Articulate a marketing plan and a new strategic position.

Module 2

Day 3 Day 4
Design your business model and understand its key elements Introduction to operations
Lunch/Networking Lunch/Networking
Cascade planning: create a plan for growth through BM elements Scenario planning and risk analysis
Operations event  

Decide on business model elements; link strategy to operations through a cascade plan; identify bottlenecks in the operation; create a high-level risk list and contingency actions.

Module 3

Day 5 Day 6
Introduction to leadership: leadership and soft skills for growth Finance for SMEs
Lunch/Networking Lunch/Networking
Team building: identify the critical resources for growth Overview of the growth plan
Leadership event  


Applications for the SME Growth Challenge programme are now closed. Please revisit these pages in October (or sign up to our mailing list) to find out more.

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+44 (0)1223 765347

Professor Stelios Kavadias & Dr Konstantinos Ladas of the Entrepreneurship Centre discuss how SMEs can overcome challenges and grow their business.

Read the blog post