MBA Blog – The Strategy Module – Guest Blog Dominic Roberts

Our class have just finished and submitted our final report for The MBA Strategy module. The Strategy module has been ranked number 1 in the world and we had high expectations –suffice to say it did not let us down. It was an intense and insightful week, led by Professors Martin Friesl, David Pettifer and Gerry Johnson.

The design of the module is highly action orientated, experiential and practical. Paired into 10 teams and each assigned different companies to analyse, in sectors such as retail, automotive, entertainment and e-commerce we needed to work over the week to develop strategies to present to the board. All of the companies were well known but faced challenges that only became apparent after investigating them. The unique part of the Lancaster module is that, unlike strategy in most business schools that rely on case studies which normally frame the issues to focus on, here we had no guide.

Every day we were presented one topic such as Industry analysis and relevant frameworks which we might be able to use and then had to present on this the next day.  We built on this culminating in our final presentation on Monday with strategic recommendations and a final submission of a report.

It allowed us the opportunity to experience the challenges faced by strategy consultants, dealing with a wealth of information and being unsure of which direction to go. All the groups spent long days and nights working to come to a recommendation, and it was very interesting to see some very creative solutions presented by the groups.

Overall, it was a great learning experience and one that all of us will be able to take away and use in the future whether we work in management consultancy or in industry.

 

6 Socio-economic factors that have shaped my first months of working and living in London – Guest Blog – Shannon McCaul

Looooong days…  

If you are anything like me, your student days are far from short, getting to campus for your 9ams and carrying on until the early hours dancing away in The Sugarhouse… but there really is something different and much more difficult with managing the tiredness of five 9-5 days every week!

Some days will flyyy by whilst others will be at s n a i l pace… I think getting used to sitting in one space at a desk for 8 hours, is where I have really struggled, I like to be up and active, so being confined to one space makes the day feel slightly longer (and much more boring)

The Tube?!?

For me, London has always been a novelty, a Christmas time trip with family or a competition location with my dance teams, so the tube was always a new, fun and exciting experience, however…

A (rural) Northerner on 8:30am commuter tube journeys in central London goes exactly how you would think, terribly! I feel like I’m too polite, I apologise every time I accidentally nudge someone, I let people on in front of me and just disregard those who angrily push in front of me. I’m working on getting a tougher, Southern, tube commuter skin – Stagecoach you aren’t going to know what’s hit you when I return! (Secretly I can’t wait to be able to smile and say thanks to the bus driver)

Office Relationships

Working relationships is something I have struggled with. Getting used to being around the same people for 40 hours a week as well as being in each other’s personal space constantly.

When do you become friends and not colleagues? Are we always going to be just colleagues or is it normal to become close friends with one or two staff members?

Competition in the workplace, especially when working at an intern level! Everyone wants the same thing, progression –balancing the friend/colleague relationship and maintaining a good rapport with the want to improve your personal academic and company growth.

Budgeting

Living in London, working in central London…it’s the dream, right?! All those amazing restaurants, sights, shows and things to do! “Make the most of your year in London, Shannon – take advantage of everything that you have on your doorstep!” I came to London with the expectation and readiness to live the London life, but paying (extortionate) rent and bills, for daily transport and for food shopping, it all adds up to a cost higher than what your minimum wage pay package can cover! I always knew it would be tough, but not as tough as it actually is. I am still having an amazing (budgeted) version of London life, I just have to be a lot more wary with where and how often I spend my money, in comparison to when in Lancaster.

Spare Time

Days are long, and life is expensive but from 5:30 when you are off the clock, you want to make the most of your free time! AND WEEKENDS – Never have I ever treasured my weekends more in my entire life! At the start of my placement I spent nights and weekends sleeping and having Netflix and pizza days in bed (which I still have don’t get me wrong) but I need to keep my mind and body active to ensure I maintain a good mental health, so I plan to see some friends, or go to a dance class or join a netball league! It is important to stay active and make some friends if there are non-down here with you. Without it or them London can be a pretty lonely place!

Home/Uni Sick

As I mentioned above, London can be a pretty lonely place, and can seem even lonelier when all your friends are still at uni having all the daily fun you are used to having, but you sit and watch it all through Social Media instead (we all love social media but it really can have its downsides can’t it ey?). My family have also booked a holiday, which I’m not sure if I can join, because of my work’s holiday allowance. It’s hard to manage, but it is a challenge I am glad to be battling through! Living this far away from home is a new experience for me, and one which is teaching me new things each and every day. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

I am having the most amazing time on my placement, facing new challenges every day and continuously learning about the working world. The factors I have mentioned above are ‘obstacles’ I face every day, ones that I didn’t even consider before moving down and starting my job!

A week in the life of a LUMS student – Guest Blog – Lydia Hill

When tasked with writing about “a week in the life of a LUMS student” my first thought was “well, which one?” because no week as a LUMS student is the same, and I think that’s the beauty of it. From my personal experience, a week in the life of a LUMS student is busy and fast-paced but, at the same time, very rewarding. In the middle of your day, when you’re running to and from lectures, seminars and countless group meetings it can feel hectic but then you step back and realise that you’ve achieved a lot. That’s the rewarding feeling.

A typical week for me as a LUMS student is squeezing all of the above in and managing to pepper my days with individual work too. What I like most about spending my time in LUMS is its buzz and community feel, there’s a sense that everybody knows everybody else, and just by walking around the LUMS buildings you bump into someone you know. This atmosphere obviously filters into academic work and means that during the week I spend my lectures, group meetings, and team activities etc. with friends and familiar colleagues. For me, this really adds to the experience and my time spent in LUMS. When it gets towards the end of a week and things are winding down a little, it’s nice to take some time out to relax a little, or work in a different environment. I find that the Hub and breakout space in LUMS are good places to do this. I quite like to take myself there, find a quiet table, order my favourite Costa (hot chocolate with almond milk!), and get my ducks in a row for the next week.

I think one of the distinguishing elements of a typical week at LUMS is the abundance of opportunities that are available for you to take advantage of. From careers workshops and drop-in sessions to one-off events, that all help to fill your week even more. By and large, I’d say that a noteworthy week for me is one where I reach out to get the support for something I need, have several productive meetings, manage to take some time in the Hub for myself and, by the time Friday rolls around, I have gotten a lot of work done. All of this, of course, takes place within the humbling buzz and comfort of the LUMS community.

A fresh perspective on my first term at Lancaster – Guest Blog – Faraz Khokhar

As my first term at university has just finished, I think this is the time to reflect on my experiences so far and how I have found it. I have had a brilliant first 10 weeks at Lancaster! One of the things you should know about me is that I am a non-drinker, and I can definitely say that drinking is not at all necessary to enjoy your time here as there is plenty of activities to get involved in!

Reflecting on my first term, also reminded me of the reasons why I choose Lancaster. One of the main reasons is because my father came here a decade ago as an international student. His experiences influenced my decision to come here. In particular, he told me about how the student services really helped him during his initial time of settling into life in the UK. It made me understand how the staff here are so courteous and caring, no matter where the student comes from.

Apart from sharing a personal connection, I had attended both the general open day and the Management School applicant visit day before starting here. First and foremost, I think it is vital to visit if you can as it affirms your decision as to whether the place suits you. I attended with some family, so they also got to see where I was going to study and get a feel for the place. Similarly, they loved it as much as I did. If you can visit I would highly recommend doing so, you’ll love Lancaster!

Also, I think a theoretical approach is essential to pass exams but what I’ve realised is that the Management School at Lancaster is much more than that. In my entrepreneurship minor, we learn theory in the classroom but to aid that understanding, the university employs over 50 people as Entrepreneurs in Residence who increase our real-world knowledge. The module is very much practice based getting us to do several challenges throughout the year. Read more about EiRs: here: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/business/community/entrepreneurs-in-residence/

I am career-focused and have come to university to increase employability skills, so this approach suits me. The University also encourages forward career planning from day one. There are many workshops available, which are delivered by the careers team and help students with expanding their knowledge of the job market.

I have found the collegiate system at Lancaster to be distinct. You can make the experience as competitive or as least competitive as you want. There are plenty of inter-college competitions that make students part of a collective identity and the sense of belonging to one of nine colleges’ appeals to many. A common conversation opener (‘what college are you in?’) gets the dialogue going especially in the first few weeks. I picked my college as the idea of being the smallest college appealed to me for various reasons. The fairly central location was also perfect for me as it is in close proximity to where my lectures are held. Finally, the college offered the room type I wanted. Personally, I feel very content with my decision, therefore; it is my advice that you should do your research looking at the factors I have mentioned. To find out about our nine unique colleges and what they offer, follow this link:

There are lots of student-run societies that you can be a part of, which ultimately helps make your transition into university smooth. By joining a few societies before coming university, I was able to integrate into the Lancaster community and find like-minded friends right away. I highly recommend attending the freshers fair in the first week of term to find out all about the societies on offer! Read more about societies on the LUSU page: https://lancastersu.co.uk/about-societies

Looking back, I’m glad to say what I had expected before coming to university has been exceeded. Being an introvert by heart, I was surprised to settle in so easily as I thought I’d feel more homesick. But there is plenty of support around you to ensure you enjoy your time here.

Ultimately, my experience so far has been shaped by the amazing people I have met and collaborated with. I feel valued to be a student here, surrounded by incredible people.

I look forward to the next few years at Lancaster!

Placement Blog – Laura Conchie – IBM

After 6-7 months of endless applications and assessment centres, I finally managed to get a Placement at IBM in Scotland. To start my placement I had a two-day induction at their London Southbank office. Within these 2 days, we met a few fellow interns and learned more about IBM and our roles.

The first 3 months of my placement was very much learning from day 1. I met all my new team within the first week and then went headfirst into international projects. The most difficult part for me was learning all IBM’s acronyms, which can vary from country to country, but this is to be expected when working for an International company. Many of those I work with are based in international IBM offices, so it has also been an adjustment trying to work with those in different time zones.

My day-to-day work is mainly project management with hosting meetings and keeping track of project files. It was quite daunting at first being an intern who is managing a group of 10 or more IBM employees that have been in the company for more than 20 years. However, IBM has given the encouragement and philosophy that you should never be too comfortable within your role, so I am trying to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.

Alongside my day-to-day role, I have managed to find time to be involved with other IBM activities such as Global Women at IBM but also those that are just run by interns for interns like the Project Management Community. There is a lot of flexibility for interns to be involved with other projects or take part in Giveback opportunities across the country with IBM employees.

I have also recently had my check-up visit from LUMS, which was great to see a friendly face and to take account of all I have done so far. The visit also provided me with the opportunity for my manager to give feedback to the University and myself on my performance so far. I also got the opportunity to come back to Lancaster to help with an open day weekend in August.

My placement year so far has been great, as I have been given a chance to network and get on hands experience within this area. This year I am taking as a ‘try before you buy’ year. Even though I am only a quarter through my placement it is a great feeling to have your weekends free again and not filled with University work. I hope that the next 9 months will be just as good as the first 3. It is particularly hard walking away from the student lifestyle and moving to the office.

In addition, I get to spend my weekends exploring Scotland. It is great to have the chance to explore and live in somewhere new for a year. With the extra money in my pocket and Scotland’s cheap travel, I am taking the chance to visit Glasgow, Edinburgh and many of Scotland’s beautiful national parks regularly.

 

My Lancaster Experience – Guest Blog – Benedetta Sinigaglia

It seems like it was only yesterday I was constantly checking my mailbox to see if there were any letters from Lancaster University, awaiting (anxiously) to know if I had been offered a place or not. And now here I am, finishing my third year, preparing myself to say goodbye to a place that has become, over the years, my home away from home.

My name is Benedetta, I come from Italy, and this is my last year attending Lancaster University, under the program of Politics, International Relations and Management. I vividly remember how shy and doubtful I was in my first year, questioning if I had chosen the right course for me, after three year I am glad to say that I did. In these years, I had the opportunity to study in depth topics that I have always been passionate about: from political thought to contemporary issues in human rights, from managerial organization to managing sustainability. Lectures and seminars have provided me with the right tools to structure arguments both from a political and a managerial perspective, all the while highlighting the linkages between the two disciplines. Most importantly I was given the opportunity to better comprehend, thanks to my professors and colleagues, the structures of the world around me, what had to be questioned and what ought to be fought for. The course has been of fundamental importance for me and my overall comprehension of politics and management in the 21st century and I have many professors to thank for demonstrating always their availability to discuss and comment on relevant topics, however, what made Lancaster my home, was the many friends I met in this journey. Lancaster University offers many societies that one can join and that offer many different events through which to make friends. Furthermore, the international community is ever present and I am happy to say that in these years I have made many friends that come from different parts of the world, all of whom contributed in making Lancaster my home and with whom I have grown with.

Sometimes I think about the girl I was at the start of my first year, and I cannot help but think that my experience at Lancaster University has been of pivotal importance for my own personal growth other than my knowledge acquisition: everything, from late nights studying in the library, to heated debates in class, from night outs with friends to early morning lectures has been important for me and I know I will always cherish it.

It is in these moments I think about Charlotte’s Bronte quote from Jane Eyre: “I remembered that the real world was wide and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth in its expanse, to seek real knowledge amidst its perils.”

I believe Lancaster has given me this type of courage, I can only hope it does the same for you.

Guest Blog: Anna Schaefer – University Innovation Fellows – Innovation & Creativity on Campus

In October 2018, me and two fellow students, James and Sarah, were officially launched as University Innovation Fellows. We are now part of a passionate community of people from all over the world who want to make a change. We can proudly say that we are the first ever Fellows in the UK and we are going to work together with the Lancaster University Enterprise Team to create valuable events for students.

As part of the University Innovation Fellows programme by Stanford University´s Institute of Design (the “d.school”), we´ve been trained to become agents of change on our campus to create lasting impact on students´ lives. We want to increase engagement with innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship because we believe that these areas are valuable for every student. To do so, we are going to create events to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge they will need in the future and even to address global challenges.

In May 2018, I applied to be part of the programme and I got accepted to be a UIF candidate. In September the 6-week online training started. We had weekly assignments to complete as a team, so it was very important to stay on top of our work. Especially when the new term started, we had to work efficiently to keep up with the workload. But we received great support by the Enterprise Team and our mentor, Jill, a Fellow from the United States who we could always ask for help.

During the training we learned about design thinking and we had to think creatively about possible ways to improve the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus. We found out about opportunities and which parts of the university need improvements in these areas. To understand needs and wants and how we can help, we interviewed many students and lecturers. We brainstormed ideas, prototyped solutions, got feedback and constantly improved our prototypes. The training was challenging but extremely rewarding as we have learned so much already and the real work hasn´t even started yet.

 

Placement Search Blog 1

Like many second-year LUMS students, I’m currently on the search for a placement year. It’s a long process that I’m still in the early stages of. It can be gruelling at times – but it’s highly rewarding and educative, and the prize of a coveted year of paid work experience is an ever-present light at the end of a long tunnel.

In this series of blogs, I’ll be going through the ins and outs of my hunt for a placement, and hopefully offering some useful advice in the process.

At the risk of stating the obvious, preparation was the first step I took. Although it’s tempting to dive straight in, and start shooting off as many applications as possible in as little time as possible, getting ready before acting is essential. The thought that you’ll be just one applicant amongst hundreds, if not thousands, for a position, acts as pretty strong encouragement for doing so…

Fortunately, the Management School wasted no time in getting my peers and I thinking about placements and preparing to apply. The Management 150 module, which I undertook in the final term of my first year, provided a whistle-stop tour of all aspects of the application process: from how to succeed in assessment centres, to how to write a strong LinkedIn profile. The most useful element of preparation in this module, however, was the opportunity to undergo a mock interview. I secured mine with Unilever, and tried to prepare for it as if it were a real interview: refining my CV, researching the company, and scouring the internet for questions likely to arise. The experience, and the feedback I got from it, was invaluable: not just for learning about the format of interviews, but for boosting my confidence in tackling them. Being able to practice such a high-pressure and important task in an environment where nothing was at stake was a golden opportunity. I’d recommend getting in touch with the LUMS Careers Team and arranging one to anybody seeking a placement.

After the Summer break, the next step I took was research. My starting point was using The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, and the websites Rate My Placement and Target Jobs, to find companies that I thought would be a good fit for my skills and interests, and whose placements had been well-received by those who had undertaken them. Once I’d chosen some companies I was interested in, with placements available in areas that suited my skills, I set about compiling research documents for each them, ready for me to apply. Information I compiled included key aspects of the job description and requirements (this one should be a no-brainer!), advice from the internet from previous applicants on what the organisations would be looking for, and details on the organisations’ aims and cultures. This provided a useful starting point for tailoring my application forms and CVs to highlight my achievements and experiences most relevant to the positions. One thing I was not expecting was how time-consuming this could be. It can take hours to get a firm idea of what a company’s looking for – just flicking through job descriptions doesn’t give you enough. Although it can be frustrating watching the days pass by without actually submitting anything, I strongly believe that the preparation is worth it: showing an organisation respect by thoroughly understanding and engaging with them might be what gives you the edge over other applicants.

A final thing I’ve found worth researching in preparation is the application processes themselves. Some organisations operate highly intensive application timelines, and ensuring you have the time and energy to complete these when you apply is of the utmost importance. Take IBM: I applied to their Marketing placement scheme at 10:00 last night – and by 8:00 this morning there was an email in my inbox informing me that I had 48 hours to complete their online tests!

With that, I’ll be getting back to the placement search – and, if I’m successful, I’ll be writing about the next stages soon. Best of luck to all prospective LUMS placement students, whichever stage you’re at!

Guest Post: Naeem Desai – Life on the Lidl Graduate Management Programme, part 2

Naeem is a graduate of MSc Management, and has recently started on the Lidl Graduate Management Programme. He will be sharing his experiences over the coming months.

My first day in the Regional Distribution Centre (RDC) started with an introduction to the team, including the Regional Director and Senior Managers. I was then trained on how to do the job of a Warehouse Operative, and I was picking stock that would be sent out to the 96 stores serviced by the RDC. It wasn’t long after this that I was training new employees on how to do the same role.

naeem-1

The amount of responsibility given to me was phenomenal and by the end of the first week I was given my own recruitment project to manage, which essentially was to recruit and train new employees for the RDC, and to manage the Human Resource matters for over two hundred existing employees. I was trusted and considered capable of managing such an important project independently. I’m continuously challenging myself because I want to develop. I’m learning so many new things, and juggling so many different tasks. Having so much responsibility helps me grow as a person, and I love every minute of what I do. It’s true what they say; no two days are the same at Lidl.

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Here’s an example of what one-day looks like in the life of a Lidl Graduate:

7:45 Tea and Oreos!!

8:00 Team Briefing Meeting

8:30 Prepare For Recruitment Project Meeting

9:00 New Employee Company Inductions

10:30 Train New Employees

11:45 Lunch

12:15 First Round Interviews

14:00 Second Round Interviews

16:15 Employee Disciplinary Hearing

17:30 Recruitment Project Meeting

18:30 Finished For The Day!

 

Summer Term has arrived! – Jenni Hanford

 

Final term of my fourth year has arrived and it has come around so fast! I know it’s a cliché, but it feels like only yesterday when I was writing my first blog for the year and now we are heading into the final 10 weeks of the academic year. It’s exciting but also scary. I’m looking forward to starting the next stage of my life and enjoying new adventures, but I’m also going to miss University and life at Lancaster as it really has been an amazing 4 years here in Lancaster, which I’ll never forget.

 

Unfortunately, there are a few hurdles to overcome before the next stage of my career can start, and they are my final exams! Being totally honest, I feel worried about them, which I think is natural and I know it’s how I’ve felt before any exam I’ve ever done, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Revision is tough, always, but especially when you’re worried about specific modules/topics. If this is the case, it’s important you don’t push those aspects aside and leave them till later, focussing on the sections you find easier first. I used to do that and it doesn’t help, it makes you panic more and doesn’t help you work on the sections you need help in/construct questions for your lecturers to improve your exam performance. I usually sandwich harder sections between those which are a little lighter/I find more manageable, then it makes revision easier and you don’t get downhearted, focussing on a really tricky section for a long time. Also, if you tackle those areas first, then you have more time to work through the problems and should have a better grasp of the tricky areas by the time the exam comes around.

 

I find the ‘revision period’ can be tricky and trying to keep yourself motivated to work hard daily for an extended period can become very tiresome and increasingly difficult as time passes. Firstly, you need to remember that it isn’t forever; if you work hard for this period then it will pay off, you’ll pass your exams first time and it will all have been worth it. You also need rest, a good nights sleep will help ensure that you are able to work well the next day and not be too tired for work. Planning activities and breaks is also essential during revision time to ensure you stay motivated. If you set targets each day, whether it be a certain number of tasks/hours etc, and then plan activities around this; an evening off sometimes or a lunch out with friends, then it will make the mountain of work seem a lot less daunting and more manageable.

 

How to revise? It’s different for everyone and it’s important to do what works for you, not just what your friends/other people are doing. I will share what I do, but that doesn’t mean you should do that or follow it exactly, but a few things may appeal to you/hopefully be of some help.

 

Firstly, I create a chart, (I don’t usually create a specific timetable of times for each item, just a rough guide on when I’ll be working for each day and for how long). This details what I need to do for each module and I indicate when I have completed each area. For all of my modules there are lectures, tutorials and readings, so I detail these and normally do my revision for each subject on a week-by-week basis. In progressing this way I spread my time over the different modules evenly and try to vary between at least two modules a day, so I don’t become frustrated/hit a wall.

 

If I know I am busy on one day and won’t do my usual hours of revision, then I schedule extra hours on a few different days so that I still get the work done that I want to and complete all the different areas I need to in plenty of time before my exams. This ensures I don’t panic as much and remain as calm as possible about my exams.

 

Also, remember about other people around you. Almost everyone is in the same boat, and I’m not talking about being quiet in the library/thinking of others (although that’s also really important and being respectful of others during this stressful period is essential), but that you should talk to your friends/course mates. They might be able to help you out with particular problems/questions etc or just offer a few calming words. You can get through this, don’t worry and it’s all worth it in the end!!!

 

Well, welcome back everyone and thanks again for taking the time to read my blogs, it really means a lot! I hope this has been of some help to you; you had a nice break over Easter and aren’t feeling too stressed right now!

 

Speak next week, Jen J