Alumni at the Distance Learning MBA conference

27 July 2022

In July, CareersPlus and the Alumni Engagement team hosted two sessions at the Distance Learning MBA conference. A number of WBS alumni took part in the sessions, which had a focus on justice, equality, diversity and inclusion, and a discussion topic of ‘The challenges of being an effective and empathetic leader when managing diverse teams’.

The aim of both sessions was to open dialogue and explore the challenges associated with managing diverse teams, the challenges for underrepresented members of teams, and the importance of resilience and compassionate leadership.

The Warwick campus session on 1 July was chaired by Hossam Zeitoun, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and Strategy. Panellists included alumna Sresha Banerjee, who is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Champion Leader for the Northern European Hub at Eli Lilly and Company, as well as CareersPlus staff members Claire McKeown, Careers Coach, and Chris Knight, Placements Relationship Manager.

The session at The Shard, held on 15 July, was chaired by Dawn Eubanks, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and Entrepreneurship and Innovation, who is in the process of building a new MBA module on leading and harnessing diversity. Dawn was joined by alumni panellists Bola Adesina, Global Diversity and Inclusion Partner at Legal & General Investment Management, and Kwame Antwi, Strategy Consultant at Deloitte. The London panellists also included current MBA students Alex Duncan, Chief Technology Officer at the British Heart Foundation, and Bhavesh Vaghela, VP for Global Product Growth at Callsign.

Discussions at the sessions touched on the goals of being empathic and effective and if perhaps they’re at odds with one another. Can performance and empathy go hand-in-hand and if so, how do teams make that happen?

Kwame, who co-founded the Black in Business Club whilst at WBS and is now Social Chair of the North American Global Alumni Network, noted: “The conversation around inclusion leadership should not start and end at the corporate level. To see real change, we must adopt a communication strategy that educates our broader community on the impact of a diverse workforce.”

Full-time MBA alumna Bola, who recently won a Rising Star Award 2022, shares: “For me, it’s about dialogue, dialogue in normalising conversations around topics we would typically shy away from and about how organisations can create safe spaces for those conversations to take place.

Conversations such as meeting quotas vs positive discrimination and the importance of being sure this doesn't tokenise individuals, and that consideration be given beyond the numbers into integrating individuals into their roles.

The challenge remains on how leaders can bring others along on the EDI journey to ensure we are all contributing to a just and fairer society.”

You can read more about the School’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion here.