Blending enjoyment with opportunity on the Global Online MBA Residential Week

10 May 2024

Global Online MBA participant Paolo Barile shares his highlights of a fantastic experience during Residential Week at our London campus, The Shard.

Beginning my career as a self-taught IT professional, I quickly recognised the indispensable value of professional education - not as a replacement for practical experience but as a complement that enriches and structures it. This led me to pursue various IT certifications, including an arduous 24-hour exam, which taught me to plan meticulously, even for sleep.

As I advanced into more senior roles, I noticed how closely intertwined and occasionally conflicting the realms of technology and business could be, and it was this realisation that led to a growing desire in me to pursue an MBA to face these complexities as productively as possible.

When, after a few years of management experience, I felt that I was ready to start selecting a Business School, flexibility was paramount due to potential relocation plans with my wife. Warwick Business School (WBS) stood out not only for its top ranking in the Financial Times but also for the promise of interaction with world-class professionals that comes with such a high ranking, raising the expectation of a dual benefit: excellent education and world-class networking.

That expectation was eminently met! One unique factor of WBS is the institution of the Residential Weeks, two separate weeks of mandatory in-person attendance, with the main aim of reducing the distance of a naturally largely distributed cohort in a Global Online MBA.

Image of Lecture Theatre
My seat during Residential Week

During my first Residential Week, I vividly remember a breakout session where a peer from a radically different industry raised some challenges to which I could perfectly relate, highlighting the universal nature of business and leadership issues. This interaction, along with others during the week, allowed us to apply theoretical knowledge from modules like Organisational Behaviour or Strategy to our experiences, crafting practical solutions collaboratively.

Image of the London skyline from the Shard
View from the classroom

Beyond the classroom, networking continued very naturally - whether it was at a bar near The Shard, a sports bar, or during a Thames cruise. These relaxed contexts fostered not only professional exchanges but also fun moments, blending enjoyment with opportunity.

Image of the Thames
View the the Thames River Cruise

The most striking aspect for me has been that all this interaction with the other peers wasn't forced, I have never felt for a moment that I was pushing myself to entertain those conversations: it has always felt highly natural!

The Residential Week wasn't just all about networking. We were also taught the first lessons of the Operations Management module, where the teaching staff have been working hard at fostering engaging and dynamic participation to the lessons, encouraging also to share our experiences and even providing examples where many, if not all, of us could relate to, which I realise is not an easy task with an audience coming from all over the world.

Another vivid and great memory is from the teaching on leadership and development, not just because it forced us to focus on our own strengths and weaknesses, but also because it allowed us to give a structure and reference to recognise them in others, which I think is crucial in a leader's career.

My advice to new students approaching their first Residential Week is to immerse yourself fully. The value extends beyond formal classroom sessions into every conversation at the coffee break or casual chat post-class. Don’t miss out - engage deeply to leverage this unparalleled opportunity to its fullest.