‘Lego Master’ and Cambridge MBA alumnus Stuart Barr is also building the bricks of his own start-up.
What’s a Cambridge MBA doing in a television Lego competition? Stuart Barr took his Cambridge MBA in 2016 and scored highly across the year on so many fronts. He had a non-typical background for an MBA – Stuart came to Cambridge as an accomplished conductor, arranger and singing coach, having been Musical Director to Dame Shirley Bassey for six years. His goal was to run an international arts organisation of his own.
Fast forward to 2018, and Lego Masters, the brick building LEGO competition which is currently showing on Channel 4 television channel in the UK.
Stuart says that being part of Channel 4’s Lego Masters has been a wonderful opportunity: his daughter Izzy always had a huge passion for LEGO building and couldn’t wait to apply for the programme. “She is the key to our love of LEGO, and most of the time I am COO to her CEO”, says Stuart.
By the end of the Channel 4 series we see Team Izzy and Stuart achieve ‘silver’ as second place winners in the series. Congratulations!
“There are synergies between my MBA and Lego Masters – during the MBA we focused heavily on team work, and on bringing creativity and ingenuity to a particular problem.
“I still apply the skills that I learned on the MBA to everyday situations, in particular those that I learnt on the Management Praxis course. This course offered a ‘deep dive’ into working with teams, with individuals who have different preferences and styles of leadership. Lecturers applied ‘games’ with LEGO as part of its team building and creative learning process.”
The focus of the Cambridge MBA Management Praxis course is on the effectiveness of your behaviour and the impact that you have on other people as you try to achieve your targets in the workplace, LEGO is therefore used as a simple tool to support that learning within teams and leadership roles.
Stuart has undertaken the added challenge of creating and launching his own venture at the same time as filming the show. Back in the Spring when the filming for Channel 4 was taking place, Stuart raised investment in venture capital funding from Forward Partners for his own start-up business – nSpireMe – a new digital platform to support children and their music practice.
Stuart says, “every child possesses extraordinary powers of creativity, and it’s our job to develop technology that enables them to unleash it, through optimising the teaching-practice circle”.
Along the way, from mastering his MBA to now building bricks in a televised competition, Stuart has also been non-executive Chairman of the London Youth Choir, driving the strategic potential of London’s premier youth choir with over 250 young people aged seven to 21 years.
Stuart’s special focus during his MBA was the interface between technology and human creativity, but overall it’s the team working he’s benefited from, and which has led to his start-up.
“How do you create a startup? You learn from those around you.”