When the world stopped, we kept going!
The current MSc Management cohort will never forget that Friday of 13th March 2020. I am not a superstitious person but that day definitely confirmed the curse. We never imagined this would be the last time we would see each other in our spacious Lecture Theatre 2. The following week was already delivered online. We were half way through the Research Methods module and our amazing teaching team managed to switch over the weekend to provide online lectures, recorded support material and additional live sessions on Microsoft Teams.
We were very lucky that our students already had a Microsoft Teams space set up for the cohort and we were able to continue our communication seamlessly in that way. Our focus remained on providing as much support to our students as possible before the Easter break and giving them confidence that we could handle this. Our alumni played a big part and we received encouraging video messages from Erik Hanel, Kiran Bora and Rebecca Barrow. These personalised messages meant a lot to all of us. They were full of positive spirit, hope and feeling of togetherness. Thank you for taking time to make us feel so much better!
As we watched many industries coming to halt, many businesses closing down in April, the University sector demonstrated great flexibility and resilience. Our teaching team pulled together and started preparing for the summer term. I myself was transferring an MBA Consultancy Challenge module to an online mode, having to weigh up carefully the impact on students’ experience and involvement of external partners such a Microsoft and BAE Systems. Our module leaders dedicated the Easter break to recording lectures and preparing explicit module guidance whilst tackling their own personal challenges and also fears. We were all exhausted and stressed but we kept focusing on doing our best and producing a high-quality learning experience and robust online support.
Our students have been working extra hard and we know they have missed the connection with each other. We all miss them too and we cherish every online discussion and meet up together. Our student reps have been instrumental in keeping us going and helping us with the online schedule design and assessment adaptation.
We have received a lot of positive feedback from our students and they remind us daily – we are in this together! We all have good days and bad days but messages like these from our students keep us going:
“Lancaster Uni is such a ‘young’ university, founded in 1964, however, its growth is amazing. We now understood why. Two of the reasons must be your dedicated hard work, and improvement that students by generation and generation had made. We felt the successive spirits from our alumni and all of you. Furthermore, we are so surprised about the high quality of this programme, even under the circumstance of coronavirus.”
We are now in the time of dissertations and company projects. It has been encouraging to be able to secure projects with local Lancashire companies and have over thirty students working on the business challenges, remotely and in different time zones! Our Summer school in Kozminski University in Poland is going ahead, albeit online. It will still be an excellent global experience, connecting virtually with new friends and lecturers.
The show must go on! We have definitely never stopped and we feel that our programme is an embodiment of an all-round preparation of what it takes to be a good manager. We all know that it is not just about knowledge. We keep working on our personal development, getting to know ourselves through this crisis, pushing our own boundaries and definitely working out of our comfort zones. We have all learnt a lot and as a programme director, I am grateful to have such a wonderful and resourceful cohort around me with the unique support of our administrative team, with Kim at the helm.
I am proud to have been able to keep steering this ship even in the darkest storms. And as the song goes: We’ll meet again, Don’t know where, Don’t know when. For now, it will be in a virtual world but soon we will be able to reconnect and we will celebrate in style. We miss our beautiful campus and those who remained in the Graduate College accommodation send us lovely pictures to remind us of our learning environment.
We are planning for our new intake in September 2020 and our programme will run. We will put the student experience in the heart of our delivery whilst complying with the government regulations and possible travel restrictions. We will have a 2020 cohort!
Our alumni support is crucial for the programme and we are excited to connect with Vassilis Mantogiannis, Naeem Hasan Desai, Florian Meyer, Oscar Powell, Jordan Fry, Chantal Dennis-Soto, Neha Taneja and many others in our summer sessions focused on discussions around The new normal in your workplace.
We are also running a special MSc Management event on 31st July on The importance of strategic thinking in times of uncertainty. This event is open to alumni, current students and applicants and I will share my latest insights into strategic planning and management.
Thank you for your continuous support and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Dr Radka Newton
MSc Management Programme Director