This is the first one of four meetings that we’ll have in the next month. And each event, each meeting basically, touch on one specific topic related to the master. So we will discuss different aspects of the programme itself from the academic to the practical side, the mentoring, and so on.
OK, so the purpose of this first meeting is basically twofold. The first one is to give you kind of a general feeling about the programme. So a sense of what the programme is about and what we try to achieve with it.
And the second point is that we want to give you some insight into the kind of people who might benefit from this programme, OK? What kind of students or participants, entrepreneurs might get the best out of the programme. So before I start, let me introduce the team. So of course, I’m just one of a part of the team.
So we have Nicky Reynolds, who is the Programmes and Administration Manager. We have Kerstin Castle here with us today, who is the Marketing Manager. Monique Boddington, the Deputy Director. Emma Jacobs, who is also a Programme and Admissions Coordinator. And finally, Laura, who will take care of the Communication Events and Relationships.
Of course, all of us have kind of different types of expertise. And we have different kinds of information about the programme. And so it might be that you have some specific questions that can be directly addressed to one of the member who might be best positioned to answer your questions.
So for instance, if you have questions about admissions or the admission process, Nicky or Emma are best place to answer your questions. So you can contact any of us to direct your questions. So we have an agenda for today and we will be together maybe for 30, 40 minutes. So I’ll go very quickly through it.
Of course, this event is called Meet the Director, but of course, it’s not about the director, it’s about the programme itself. Nevertheless, I will say a few words about myself since you will see me a lot and I’m very much the face of the programme. And then I will give you an overview of the MSt programme.
And then we will discuss in details who can benefit from the programme itself. And finally, we will have some time for question and answer. So that’s the agenda.
So who am I? Well, I mean, first of all, I studied economics a long time ago in Italy where I did my BA and doctorate. And then I moved to Cambridge Judge Business School. So I was a student, actually at the Business School in Cambridge about 15 years ago where I did my PhD in Management.
And then I travelled the world. I was in Italy as an Assistant Professor and then I moved to China for two years. And then I was in Australia as an Associate Professor in Strategy for one year. And then at London, in one of the College of University of London.
And then I gained my way back to the start. So I came back to Cambridge Judge Business School. I’m currently the Academic Director of the programme, as I said, but also Senior Faculty in Management Practice.
And when I do not teach and do administration duties, I spend my time doing research on decision making. So in particular, I look at how individual teams and organisations make decisions, in particular, in situations of extreme uncertainty. So my research is basically about A, characterising different environments. So for example, I look at entrepreneurial environments and the kind of uncertainties that entrepreneurs face when they make decisions.
Then I look at how people make decisions in such conditions as opposed to how they should make decisions. So I try to understand whether there are some ways to improve the way in which people make decisions. And finally, I look at the bright side of uncertainty, which is so fundamental for entrepreneurs. So how uncertainty can be created and how uncertainty foster innovation in entrepreneurial settings.
So if you join the programme, there will be plenty of time to discuss this topic. And I will try to challenge you and you will challenge me about the relevance of what I say and for entrepreneurial decision making. So I hope we will have a fruitful discussion in the future.
So what is the programme about? Well, as you know, I mean, probably you have read all the documents online so you have pretty much a good idea of what the programme is about. I mean, in essence, it’s a two-year part-time degree programme where you will have to cover a number of core modules and then you will be able to pick up some elective modules that you might be particularly interested in.
And then finally, you will have to write a major project, which is in year two and will take much of the time in year two to develop such a project. It’s a combination of online courses on the one hand, and some in-person and practical activities. As you know, there are residentials during the course of the two years that you will have to attend in-person where you will meet a lot of interesting people.
There will be workshops to develop some particular practical skills. There will be seminars from the industry practitioners and so on. And also, of course, there will be the faculty members that will deliver parts of the course in-person.
The programme combines two different aspects. On the one hand, it’s very rigorous from an academic perspective. Each faculty member tries to bring to the table the latest frameworks, concepts, ideas, tools that can be useful for the practise of entrepreneurship.
But on the other hand, there is also a learning by doing an approach, which is very much facilitated by the fact that you will interact with a mentor in a one-to-one setting. And also, will exchange with industry practitioners, as well as your peers, ideas to put the knowledge into practise. The third point that I want to emphasise, it’s a part-time programme.
And the reason why it’s the case is that it gives you the possibility to absorb the knowledge that we provide and apply this knowledge day by day to your business, your job, your growing of the business in which you are involved at the moment. So the programme very much sits at the intersection between these three pillars.
So the academic pillars– and we will talk about it in the next meeting specifically. And we talk about what kind of frameworks and tools we can bring to the table to enhance your practicing of entrepreneurship. And then we will talk about the practical application in other meetings, where we will talk about how industry experts can help you, what kind of workshop that we provide, what are the main topics that we touch in the various workshops, what is the relationship that you will have with the mentor, what is the purpose of the mentoring in the programme itself.
And finally, how you will be able to apply all this knowledge to the major project. What is the purpose of the major project? What we are trying to achieve with it? And finally, we will also discuss the importance of the community and the peers.
So the importance of peers that we will discuss even later cannot be overstated. I mean, this is an integral part of the learning and teaching methodology that we apply to this programme. And your peers and you will play a fundamental role into the knowledge creation and knowledge exchange.
And finally, the community– we will talk about how the programme will help you to build a network by meeting all the peers and the kind of industry experts and so on. So these are the three pillars. As I said before, there’s a lot of information out there on the website that you can have a look at.
So I mean, as I said, the peers play a fundamental role in this programme, and for various reasons. This is a snapshot of the cohort that we have now. So the 2021 cohorts. So it’s a very diverse cohort.
And of course, diversity comes in many forms. So if we look at the snapshot in terms of country of citizenship, you can see that we have– a lot of people are resident in the UK, but in terms of nationalities, we have 27 nationalities. This is an overview of the industry. There’s a lot of people working on fintech and education, ecommerce.
But really there is anything from real estate development to retail and pharma. So 30-plus industries, which represent lots of probably the things– the interests that you have at the moment. So you will find a lot of people that share the same kind of interests. In terms of age– well, the average is quite young. We have a lot of young entrepreneurs.
But of course, we have a big range. And we had people up to 70 years old in the programme, which of course, means many things. It means that different kind of experience, different stages of their career.
Some people are much more experienced in terms of entrepreneurship, so there are people who have been already successful in their endeavours. And some others that are at the beginning, have already shown some entrepreneurship initiative but they are kind of at the beginning. And so again, very diverse kind of cohorts.
The last point is the gender. As you can see, there is an imbalance in the sense that we have more male than female. I mean, we can speculate on why this happened over the last year.
I mean, before we had a little bit more balanced kind of a ratio. I mean, probably the COVID had kind of an effect on what happened in this sense. But anyway, this is the kind of a snapshot.
And of course, there is no such a thing as a typical cohort. We have always– variety. But I mean, diversity is clearly the key word that comes to mind when you look at all the course that we had over time.
And the programme– one thing that I want to say very clearly– value diversity. So we really value the fact that people come from different backgrounds. They have different experience, at different stages in their career, offer different kind of perspective to any problem.
And the fact that diversity can help all of us, to some extent, to question our belief and trying to enlarge our vision of the world is something that is at the centre of the programme itself. Of course, there are a lot of challenges that come with diversity. And we make sure during the programme to create a culture that allow us to get over these challenges and get the best out of our cohorts.
All right. Yeah, the next point that I want to make– well, of course, entrepreneurship is a journey. And there are many different ways and different paths to become an entrepreneur. I mean, one question that sometimes people ask me and ask to my colleagues is whether you really need a master to be an entrepreneur. And this I think is a fair question.
And, of course. I mean, you could learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur in various ways, maybe just by practicing entrepreneurship. Of course, learning by doing. You might look at the kind of information that is needed and assemble the information by yourself.
You don’t need to go into this master to understand what entrepreneurial finance is or what strategies. There’s plenty of information out there you would be able to assemble together. Of course, there would be costs and you will have to work hard. But you can find information out there if you want.
Or you can take some specific ad hoc kind of courses. Maybe you’re very good at strategy and you know that, but you are not maybe good at negotiation. And you could go out and find a course in negotiation and concentrate on it.
Or you could find a mentor by yourself. Maybe there is people that you know or people that you can be inspired by and learn to become an entrepreneur. So by all means, we don’t maintain that taking this course, this programme is the way or the only way to become an entrepreneur.
I’m saying this to say that people that choose to take this programme, they have to do it for the right reason. So let me say something about who can benefit from this programme. So what are the key words that come to mind when we think about people who really can get the best out of the programme?
So the first key word that comes to mind is entrepreneurial. I mean, we want really people who can show evidence of entrepreneurial initiative. People who are practicing entrepreneurs.
And why? Because these people will be better placed in the programme to make the best out of the knowledge that they will receive. So let me say this. I think there are at least three reasons why this is the case.
The first one, maybe it’s about distinguishing or clarifying what the content of the programme is. So this MSt is not an MBA or an EMBA. It’s a very different kind of programme in terms of content.
So the kind of frameworks, concepts, ideas, tools that we provide as faculty are explicitly designed to deal with the kind of situation in which entrepreneurs find themselves. So for example, I teach my course in strategy. And when I was designing the course, of course, I tried to design a strategy course which fits with the kind of environment in which entrepreneurs have to operate. So it was strategy for entrepreneurs and not just classic strategy course that are taught in the typical kind of MBA settings.
So for example, I look at what it means, strategy making, where you’re operating in high velocity environments, fast changing environments. Where your decisions are subject to an incredible amount of uncertainty. And so no matter how much you look for information, no matter how much you do your homework in collecting and processing information, there are some uncertainties that cannot be resolved at the outset.
So what are the consequences of this for strategy making? And so the kind of framework that we kind of try to provide are really tailored to the situation in which you will operate or you are operating at the moment. Another thing that comes to mind as an example that I want to give you apart from the characteristics of the environment– a lot of MBA courses– and I teach on MBA programmes so I know– are about problem solving and decision making.
So there is a problem out there and I provide you with the tools to be able to solve the problem and pick and choose the best course of action. But the problem most of the time is given to you. So it’s about problem solving.
This programme is very much about problem creation, problem finding, and problem formulation as much as it’s about problem solving. The problem is not given to you. There’s a lot about being able to go out there and understand what the problem is in the first place.
It’s about finding the question. And this is at the centre of the programme. What is the question that you’re trying to answer? So we don’t have the answer, but we can push you through our frameworks and tools and interaction to question yourself to find a question that is worth asking. So that it’s much more about creating a problem or identifying a problem than just give you the tools about how to solve it.
So really the content is tailored for entrepreneurship. That’s my first point. The second point is that practicing entrepreneurs will be able to apply the knowledge that we provide on a day by day basis. So the only way of getting the best out of the knowledge that we provide is to apply it.
So each week, material is delivered, you go home, you have your job, and you try to apply and see what works and what doesn’t works. So maybe you come back and say, well, this didn’t work that much for such and such reason. And then there is an exchange with your peers, with me, and with others and trying to understand how, why some tools might be more relevant than other.
So it’s really the importance of the practical application of the knowledge that we provide and not the knowledge itself that actually is of great value. And of course, if you are not an entrepreneur, you are not engaging in some form of entrepreneurship, you won’t be able to get much out of the knowledge that we provide for the reason that I mentioned before that is really related to that kind of endeavour. Then the third point, the rule of peers.
So we want practicing entrepreneurs because everyone in this programme play a specific role. So first of all, you will be surrounded by like-minded people. So there will be people who really share with you a common passion for entrepreneurship. So if you are not in that kind of group, you will not find yourself comfortable around your peers.
Secondly, the kind of experience, knowledge that you will bring to the table will depend on your previous experience as an entrepreneur. So we want people who are able to contribute to the programme through their own sharing of knowledge, questioning things, and interact with the peers. So unless really you are interested and you have been practicing entrepreneurship, you won’t be able to engage in a meaningful way with your peers. So entrepreneurial.
The second key word, committed. This court is designed, of course, to be taken by people who are working. As I said, it’s a part-time course and I have explained why this is the case. But it’s challenging. So this is a course that requires hard work.
So it’s not about just absorbing kind of passively information that comes to you. You really need to engage with the material that gets released every two weeks in units. And every two weeks, you will be asked to participate to activities. And unless you have studied the material and you have formed a common vocabulary that you can use to interact with your peers, this kind of interaction will be completely meaningful– sorry, meaningless.
In a sense, you really need to be up-to-date with the material to be able to get the best out of the programme. Some of the activities happen in teams. You will have, for the core module, an action learning team and your peers. And with your peers, you will be asked to deal with some tasks.
And of course, if you want to contribute, you really need to be up-to-date with the material. So it is demanding. Can be done, but it’s hard work. And there’s a high reward if you do it because you can really engage with the others. So committed.
Third point, open. I mean, we all come to the programme with our background, our experiences, and more or less strong beliefs. Maybe you have been successful with your previous kind of enterprise or maybe you studied in a different kind of university, you have been exposed to different kind of frameworks, whatever. Whatever it is, you come with your belief.
And the programme will question these beliefs. Not all the time, but often, you will be asked to have an open mind in trying to understand the point of view of others and the kind of different point of view that faculty members will bring to the table. We will talk a lot about biases.
So we all have our own biases, whether we are aware or not of having them. So many of them are actually unconscious. And of course, we use this kind of heuristics that lead to biases all the time.
And these biases is sometimes really put us in a kind of situation where we have a kind of tunnel vision. We are in these tunnels, we have our own idea, and it’s extremely difficult to get out of the vision of the tunnel vision. The kind of information that you look for is information in the domain where you know you will find information to confirm your own belief.
When the evidence is given to you, even if it’s ambiguous or conflicting, you will interpret this information in a way that conforms to your own belief. And what we do in the master is try to question this. To give you different views, to provide different alternatives, to make you look in different places for information. So try really to escape the tunnel.
And of course, the diversity of the course will help doing that. So maybe you are operating in one industry and maybe it’s the way in which people operate in that industry. And then there are people in other industries. And maybe you attend a seminar, you think, OK, but this is not relevant to me.
But then if you think about it and you start really questioning the relevance. And maybe by analogical reasoning, you move that some of the practise there might be extremely useful in my context. So especially in the domain of extreme uncertainty, having the ability to reason also by analogy, by looking what happened in other industry and context, is fundamental to try to escape the tunnel vision.
I teach a lot of decision making. And one of the typical conversations I have is about the relevance or the importance of gut feelings, of intuition. Or whether following your intuition is there the best or even the only way to make a decision in an entrepreneurial context. I have a lot of heated discussions about this.
And of course, my view is that we are not asking anybody to give away their intuition, but to back their intuition with solid kind of evidence-based research. So what works? What doesn’t work? What are the bias that might be at play? How can I counteract these biases?
How can I be sure that I have kind of seen things from different angles? A question and a robust belief about my ideas. So open is a fundamental attribute. If you are not really open to diversity of ideas, you might be kind of frustrated by what we do during the course.
So the next key words, cooperative. As I said– and I cannot overstate this– peer to peer learning is fundamental to the programme. So we really create a culture of sharing information.
So there’s no competition here. It’s a co-operative process in which everybody adds to the programme by sharing their knowledge and their experience. And you have to be willing to help others and to teach others. So you have to have this openness that allows you to really exchange information with others and trying to question them whenever it is needed.
So really, the only way of coming up with a brilliant idea is to be exposed to different kind of ideas by other people. Maybe a comment from your mentor or from the faculty member or from one of your peers. We really make you just tip enough to see things that you didn’t see before. And so to do this, everybody has to contribute. And has to be open to share the opinions they view and provide fresh insights and so on.
The final key word, responsible. We will spend quite a lot of time in discussing issues, social issues that might make you reflect on the kind of entrepreneur that you want to be. So what kind of entrepreneur you want to be in ten years, in five, ten, 20 years. What kind of map you want to leave to your entrepreneurship activity.
So we will talk a lot about the desire to do the right thing. Be able to take into account others, different kind of stakeholders, no matter how hard it is. And this is something that is really at the centre of the mission of the school itself.
So if you go on the website of Cambridge Judge Business School, you will find the kind of mission that we have. And this is a statement by our Dean, Mauro Guillén – “We seek to create the best learning experience for our students and executive education clients, firmly anchored in the tradition of academic excellence of the University of Cambridge, and in support of sustainable, diverse, inclusive, and equitable business practises.”
I mean, this kind of attitude, this kind of responsible stance that we try to put forward is really at the centre of what we do across the programmes. And in particular, in this programme. So all the things that I said, of course, is not to discourage you. We will be happy to receive your application.
It’s more about giving you a feeling of what kind of people can really enjoy and exploit the kind of knowledge that we try to convey through the programme, who can really benefit. And it might be that maybe you are that person. But maybe you are not in the right situation at the moment.
So some people, for example, that applied in the past, they had the potential. But we could understand that it was not the right moment for them to embark in such a programme. So you might be that this is the right candidate, but just at the wrong time.
So you really need to understand whether you have the capacity, the dedication to engage in such a journey. Which will be, as I said, rewarding but challenging at the same time. I mean, of course, this is my view. It’s my view of the programme, of what we can offer.
But of course, I mean, you are very welcome to engage with other people that might give you a kind of a different view of the programme. So there is– it’s on the website on the link that I put at the bottom of the slides– you can access the chat function where there will be some ambassadors of the programme. So there will be current students or students from past programmes.
Probably they will bring you different kind of perspective. Of course, the ones that finished the programme already might have a different view from the ones that they are in the middle of the programme. It’s very diverse cohort, as I said, so you might decide to chat with people who maybe come from the same industry or maybe have some kind of common traits or particular kind of specific features that might interest you. So please feel free to talk to them.
I think I will stop here and I’m happy to answer any question you might have, OK?
Thank you very much, Alberto. Can I just say one thing? When you started off and you said we’ve got the whole team and there’s different people that will answer questions, of course, just send your questions into [email protected], which you will find anywhere on our website. We will find the right person to answer you in the best way.
So you don’t need to kind of remember who’s doing what in the team, of course. So just send us that. And if you want to speak to students, as Alberto said, halfway down on our home page, you will see a line where it says Speak to Ambassadors. And that’s where you can find the link and speak to our ambassadors if you want to do that.
Yeah, thank you, Kerstin.