MSc Management programme update July 2020 by Dr Radka Newton

Keeping the MSc Management community going despite the global pandemic restrictions has been our absolute priority this summer. Our current students are now deep into their final dissertation projects and we felt we all needed a bit of a boost and encouragement. What better way to do this than to get together for a lunch break with some of our inspirational alumni – members of my first MSc Management class, of 2018.

When the class of 2018 met the class of 2020…

The digital way of working made it possible for alumni to join us not only from London and Manchester, but also from Germany and Greece. The positivity and upbeat attitude of these young professionals reinforced the messages we have been hoping to convey to our current students.

The class of 2018 was represented by Vassilis Mantogiannis, Florian Meyer, Oscar Powell, Jordan Fry and Chantal Dennis-Soto, who gave us these valuable insights:

1. Adapt and leverage – the current situation has hit businesses hard and some of the companies our alumni work for have experienced dramatic loss in income. Staff have had to adapt quickly to the new ways of working and whilst some companies were ready with the technology and equipment for their employees, others have had to catch up. Regardless, all our alumni simply ‘got on with it’ and made the most of leveraging the situation. As Oscar expressed: “Stay reactive, stay positive!”.

Chantal would normally work at KPMG’s clients’ premises and the new situation has made her re-evaluate how the audit can be handled differently and how technology can enhance the auditing practices. Florian, who admitted he had never been a big fan of working from home, embraced this challenge by making an effort to continue socialising with colleagues virtually to somehow replicate corridor conversations. Jordan even started a new job during lockdown and so he hasn’t actually seen his colleagues in the flesh. That certainly hadn’t put him off learning the new role and making the most of virtual connections.

2. Productivity is on the up – all our alumni confirmed how much relief the cut in commuting and the enhanced freedom of ‘office hours’ have contributed to overall productivity. Not only had they observed this in their organisations, but on a personal level they have been able to make positive changes to their lifestyles. Vassilis realised this already before the pandemic and even though his career was steaming ahead in a very successful consulting firm in London, he decided to return to Greece and pursue his future closer to home.

He inspired us by concluding that every company you work for, every job you do, is like doing another university degree. The life-long learning of these 2018 graduates really came across in our discussion, as they all have been able to build on the solid foundations they gained during their MSc Management and continue to learn. Chantal and Jordan are pursuing their accounting qualifications, which is commendable and tough whilst juggling their demanding careers at the same time.  Oscar, who is in the Fintech sector, has really seen productivity rise, as well as people’s motivation to bring the business back to higher profitability.

3. The power of networks – many of the current class of 2020 were curious to know how to make a good impression at work, how to handle job applications and how to connect with successful alumni. The generosity of our alumni was very heart-warming. They all readily offered genuine advice and opened the opportunity for further discussions via LinkedIn. Oscar was completely right when he said how we underestimate the power of LinkedIn, and encouraged everybody to start whilst they are still students.

Libby Packham, LUMS Alumni Officer, shared an interactive Sway presentation through which our MSc Management students can find out how to connect with Lancaster alumni for insights and advice in support of your studies and career development, also to learn about the benefits you can access as future alumni. Libby concluded: “Being a member of this diverse and high-achieving community is something to be proud of, and also a great resource.”

This Friday lunchtime event gave us a lot to think about and apart from being inspired, we felt ready to get on with it, to embrace the new world and make the most of our future! We look forward to welcoming the class of 2020 back to our programme in the years to come, and to hearing how you go on to reimagine the new meanings of management and leadership.