Q&A with Digital Leadership participant Colin Bennett

16 July 2020

We spoke with Executive Diploma participant, Colin Bennett, about why he chose to study at Warwick Business School and how the Diploma in Digital Leadership has impacted his career.

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

After delivering cutting edge technology, activating services, enabling business and ensuring first class client experiences for over 25 years, I needed a new perspective to position that experience and help unlock it for the next stage in my career at a time when business is being transformed in many macro and micro ways.

Having managed and implemented many digital transformation challenges first hand, I had the competence, the MBA skills, I just wanted a specialist deep dive and mentoring to aggregate all that experience and lead digital strategy and organisational change into the fourth industrial revolution. It was important to me that the University was top class so I was learning from the best and brightest minds. I chose Warwick Business School because it ticked all the boxes and was particularly convenient in terms of London location, stunning Shard Campus and an attendance structure that fit very well into a busy schedule and life.

What were your expectations before you enrolled on the programme? How do these compare to your actual experience on the course?

I wanted to expand my horizons and knowledge to give me diversity of thought, gain research and learn about approaches that would help me meaningfully stand out from the crowd, exercise my critical thinking to be prepared for the toughest of leadership challenges, understand the transformative dimensions at play in detail and have time to test the boundaries to find new frontiers. I wanted to graduate feeling equipped to innovate and confidently lead any organisation into the digital future.

I was not let down by the course content, the professor's engagement, the staff support and the cohort’s energy. They all surpassed my expectations and readied me for the digital leadership challenges ahead.

Which modules did you value most on the programme and why?

It is practically impossible to choose one module over another. Each module was practical, intellectually stimulating and packed with useful knowledge. Every subsequent module was different but equally as valuable and enriching. To my surprise, all of the modules had a meaningful focus on digital ethics, behaviours and social impacts, which were actually the real things to tackle and prepare for. Because how we lead, with this in mind, will matter and define our digitally enhanced futures. 

How has the Digital Leadership Diploma benefited your day to day role?

Countless examples of where I have applied the knowledge learnt when strategically planning or engaging in debate around digital futures or leadership priorities. The course format where you write two papers at the end of the module is smart, as one focuses on the course content and understanding, the other lets you apply it to your work or area of interest. The reports I have written have informed my work and been shared with colleagues to support future goals and planning.

Can you tell us a little bit about your Executive Diploma cohort?

The cohort on the digital leadership diploma cover many different industries and countries giving the course a good global mix and valuable perspectives. You develop a good network and working relationship with each other throughout the course. The social side is good and the arranged dinners and talks are really first class.

What was the theme of your final project and how does it relate to the current challenges you are facing?

My final project is exploring senior leadership and board composition as we approach the fourth industrial revolution. With technology being at the centre of the majority of business models or services, having leadership that understand Digital more is proven to improve revenue. In the same way finance was a key senior leadership skill in the industrial age, digital leadership is the new competency that will differentiate the winners from the future losers.  

Do you have any advice for anyone currently thinking about studying for a Warwick Executive Diploma?

Do it! I doubt you would ever regret it. The Warwick reputation is first class and opens doors. Being a master’s level diploma, the credits can contribute towards further qualifications which is valuable. The course structure fits in so well with a busy work schedule and other commitments. Looking back it was really hard work but the pace was perfect and we had a lot of fun along the way.

What advice would you give to those having to adapt and change their business strategy due to the current climate?

  • Senior Leaders need to understand the new economics of digital business and innovation. The current models are flat and the new world is multi-dimensional and changes at pace. The leadership team needs to understand these increasingly complex dynamics, as well as future business models and the opportunities they present. Spend time to truly understand the future world ahead to guide your decisions - really engage and actively listen.
  • You’ll be disrupted and you’ll need to change. You cannot disrupt from your core business as it is optimally set up to run the current processes. You need a new space for innovation to flourish. You need to meaningfully set transformative KPIs to truly change the business.
  • Your staff need the relevant skills to scale up new businesses. There’s more of an entrepreneurial mind-set required. How you encourage that is key. Remember your best staff are probably the ones already there, invest in them!

To find out more about the teaching on the Warwick Executive Diplomas, register for our guest lecture with best-selling author and futurist Bernard Marr on the 7 August - 4 ways AI and Big Data are transforming business.  

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