Students are busy throughout the year organising conferences and panels, which bring a wide variety of business leaders and thought leaders to the School.
Four of our current Cambridge MBAs tell us about the benefits they’ve found in taking part in activities happening outside of the lecture theatre and how these have allowed them to put into practice their leadership and communication skills.
Many students join or start student interest groups (SIGs) in a sector which interests them. Some SIGs organise an annual conference, which enables students to develop valuable networks, and meet influential business leaders. Two such SIGS are the Cambridge Africa Business Network (CABN) and the Wo+Men’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) student SIG, both of which are holding their conferences this June.
The theme of the CABN conference on 17 June is “Making an Impact”, and one of the ways the MBA students have developed this theme is to organise a ‘lion’s den’ style competition. Working with africafunders.com, they are bringing together start-ups from within the African continent to compete for a prize of US$10,000 in seed funding.
Cambridge Africa Business Network Chair Sunga Lungu says:
“We wanted to make a real impact this year and that’s why we came up with the competition. One of our aims was also to bring influential people from Africa to Cambridge, and organising the conference is a great way to do this. Working with CABN has been great because I’ve been able to speak to people I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to access.”
On 10 June, Cambridge Judge Business School is hosting its third conference dedicated to Women’s Leadership. This year’s theme is “Finding Balance’’ and WLI student Co-Chair Aurelia Kassatly says:
“Our hope is that the conference will bring together the strands of debate and discussion initiated by the WLI throughout the year and continue to force the group, and its members, to take a critical look at what gender equality really looks like and understand the perspectives of those who may be against it.”
As well as large-scale conferences, SIGs also organise smaller panel discussions, such as the Cambridge Cleantech panel, which is taking place on 8 June. The Clean Energy SIG at CJBS have been working with Cambridge University Energy Network, Energy at Cambridge and Cambridge Cleantech to organise “When Small Means Big: Bringing Clean Energy Mainstream”.
Sheela Sanei, MBA student and panel organiser says:
“It’s really important that we integrate start-ups with the academic community, and we wanted to create a stage for this valuable discussion. I’ve been working on getting people motivated to come, using the skills I’ve learnt from the MBA to understand what each person needs and wants to get out of an event like this.”
They’ll be discussing how the shift towards cleaner and distributed sources of energy can benefit everyone, and how stakeholders face different challenges in the transformation towards renewable and distributed electricity generation.
Venture Creation Weekends
Beyond conferences and panels, students have also regularly taken part in Venture Creation Weekends, which are organised by the Entrepreneurship Centre here at the School. Cambridge MBA students Anton Petrov and Yuki Kishi took part in the last Venture Creation Weekend, DisruptEd, which was focussed on creating emerging technology for education. Both presented one minute pitches, and Anton’s team’s project made it through and was awarded a place on the Accelerate Cambridge programme at Cambridge Judge. Yuki says:
“There was real value for me in working with people from a non-MBA background, going through the business process and describing models to people without a business background. It felt like an environment which was closer to real life than the classroom, and I was able to put into practice skills learnt on the Management Praxis course.”
Anton adds: “The process is a condensed version of what would usually take one or two weeks of work, so the experience really forces you to learn what is important when developing a concept.”
The next Venture Creation Weekend is 23-25 June and focusses on biotech and healthcare.
These are only a few examples of panels, conferences and events that MBA students take part in and organise throughout the year; and with so much happening around the School, the Cambridge MBA really does give you a sense of what it means to manage your time!