Full-time MBA participant, Angel Zhou, shares how the MBA programme has developed her leadership skills.
Full-time MBA alumna, Leila De-Saude, shares her experience of working on the consultancy project in the LeadershipPlus module.
As part of the Full-time MBA LeadershipPlus module, we were privileged to be engaged in practical consultancy projects with local business clients.
Each assigned syndicate group received a consultancy brief that detailed the name of the client and a summary of the agreed scope of work that we were tasked to complete for the client. The clients were sourced by Warwick Business School (WBS) and were predominantly local businesses in nascent or growth phases, which provided distinct opportunities for us to leverage our in-class learnings to assist them to achieve their desired objectives.
Working with our client
My syndicate group was assigned a local client, Counter Culture – a sustainable and ethical beauty startup that provides an e-commerce platform for brands to sell their products. Our project objectives were two-fold i) devise a meaningful sustainability scorecard for beauty products and ii) create product impact assessments (on the environment).
The first task required detailed research on whether similar scorecards for beauty products exist and, if so, whether they could be used by the client for their desired purposes. Alternatively, where such scorecards did not exist, we were tasked with creating a methodology to score similar products.
The second task sought to empower and to motivate consumers to make a change in purchasing habits in line with Counter Culture’s #justoneswitch campaign.
The outcome – presentation and deliverables
We found that, as sustainability is an evolving area, metrics are varied and, as such, it would be difficult to create a quantitative and weighted scorecard since sustainability metrics themselves may still be a matter of debate e.g. is palm oil always bad? Is plastic-free always better? For these reasons we developed a minimal viable product (MVP) in the form of a binary scorecard that focused on providing information to consumers to help them make purchasing decisions.
In line with this, we developed infographics for certain products to show the impact of making more sustainable purchasing decisions.
These findings required flexibility and creativity in our approach to client solutions, which meant managing client outcome expectations.
We developed concise slides detailing our proposed solutions. We then dusted off our formal clothing and dress shoes to present these slides to client and our lecturers for assessment.
Working as a high-performing team
In addition to utilising theoretical knowledge learned during subject modules such as Strategic Thinking and Marketing, we were also assessed on our teamwork capabilities.
Each syndicate group was responsible for managing their client, with no oversight or management from the academic staff. This meant that it was up to us to decide how to proceed with the project and how to manage the client - invaluable practical experience. Critical to this was that syndicate groups are comprised of peers – there was no leader or project manager. For this reason, our syndicate assigned roles to each team member, such as having one person to manage all communications with client. This required buy-in from all syndicate members.
These group work dynamics comprised some of our most critical learnings from the MBA. We learned (the theory) and experienced (in practice) the difference between working as a group of individuals and a team, where teams work collaboratively towards a common goal. Our syndicate found value in assigning specific tasks and with group buy-in we trusted each other to make final calls on the tasks that we were working closest to. This was integral to our effective and efficient performance as what I would consider a high-performing team.
Our syndicate group produced a workable MVP that impressed the client and our lecturers during our presentation – something that we can be proud of. Of course, getting the technical theory right is important and as a group we had the skills to do so. The real learning came in operating as an aligned team with mutual understanding of the client’s goals and with the strategic agility necessary to create workable solutions. These are some of the most important skills and experiences that I hope to apply as my career progresses post-MBA.