My Warwick Week experience

18 June 2019

Distance Learning MBA participant, Carla Priddon, sums up her first Warwick Week experience using that handy revision tool - a mnemonic.

It has been the best part of 15 years since I was last a student and Warwick Week, the first face-to-face element of my Distance Learning MBA, was my chance to be a proper student again!

The days were long, the interaction constant, the learning stimulating but difficult and the assessments (a poster, a presentation and an exam) were challenging! However, as well as the intellectual rigor, there were many opportunities for fun, networking and personal development - I even bought a hoodie!

My Warwick Week (Done as a mnemonic due to the frequency of them in my revision notes for this week!):

Welcome Dinner – The week started with an introduction lecture and delicious platters of food! We received lots of interesting branded items such as a worldwide adaptor and treasures including a calculator and an ‘old school’ clear pencil case for our exam! It was fascinating to see nearly 200 people in the flesh after communicating for months online and it felt like the perfect start to the week.

Academic Rigor – From the outset the expectations around learning have been challenging. Every single day of Warwick Week left me mentally exhausted but excited to have learned things outside of my day-to-day career. In particular, having never been either an economist or accountant, it was incredible to be able to quickly get up to speed with key concepts in both areas that will help me plan strategically and know the right questions to ask my financial teams.

Role playing – One highlight of the week was our Leadership Day. It was great fun to do negotiation role plays and pretend to be a company CEO or member of the senior team to get our own way! It gave us a chance, in a safe place, to explore how we react in business during negotiation and consider how best to get the responses we want in our business lives.

Working Together – Central to the week was working with my group. We did a presentation, poster, economics project and spent the best part of a week in a room together. It’s a good job we like each other! The team even found time to go climbing together!

Introductions and networking – After three months of speaking online, I was introduced to my working group and wider cohort for the first time face-to-face. It was great fun trying to match faces to names and the tiny thumbnail images we had known each other by previously! It was really helpful to meet people in similar industries and completely different ones and spend the week with other bright, interesting and ambitious people, over both work and drinks!

Careers Evening – A core of the MBA programme is the ‘what next?’ and considering your career, and there was an evening dedicated to careers. You could choose two out of four sessions, and I went to one about LinkedIn and another about changing career. Both were interesting and gave me practical advice on how to develop my career in the future but with advice for the ‘now’.

Knowledge – This was everywhere during this week. I learnt more in a week than I would in a month in normal circumstances and took several key themes back to my office and shared them with my senior team. I also learned a lot about myself - it wasn’t all business theory!

Wellbeing and the whole person – As well as the academic side of the week, events were programmed in to support us as individuals. It was possible to have a counselling session and I went to an excellent wellbeing lecture which helped me stay grounded when so much was going on. It was really good that WBS had considered other areas where students may have needed advice during the week with us being on campus so infrequently.

Exam! – This was as scary as you’d expect for someone who hadn’t sat an exam since 2005. It was easy to slot back into the mode though, including sitting at individual desks in a hall, booklets, remembering my student number, the scribble of pencils, pens and highlighters, and the frantic last five minutes to capture everything. My group also found it hilarious to tease me about all my pens. I had a spare seven – just in case!

Early starts – I was in the library at 6am every day. Taking advantage of all the books and the comfy chairs. Seriously, it was a really solid way to start the day, thinking and reading for the day ahead and finding necessary resources for future work.

Kebabs – I didn’t. Wish I had though. A compulsory student activity for next Warwick Week!

Organisational Behaviour and Strategy – As part of the Changemaker Series I had the privilege of going to an excellent evening lecture by Dr Max McKeown, ‘WTF! Shaping the Future: Rules for Rebels, Mavericks & Innovators’. This highly visual, amusing and interesting lecture was very inspiring with lots of opportunity for future practical application.

Notes – I took pages and pages. Desperate to absorb all the knowledge, ideas, thoughts, questions and reflections of the week. Reading them back they don’t all make perfect sense after very long days but I like to think the most important things were captured in my brain!

Eating outside – A highlight of the week was a picnic outside on campus with items brought by my group from their home countries. As well as being delicious (especially the salami!) it was wonderful to spend time relaxing together, just enjoying each other’s company and being students. I also took full advantage of all the eateries on campus, especially Curiositea and The Bread Oven.

Find out more about the Distance Learning MBA