MBAs set-up platform to network in pandemic

22 September 2020

  • WBS Social Learning Platform has launched with series of webinars
  • Around 250 people are attending the online events to learn and network
  • Platform run by MBAs for MBAs studying full-time and part-time
  • Alumni are also welcome as networking moves online in pandemic

Students on the Distance Learning MBA have been sharing knowledge during the pandemic through a series of webinars and platform.

The WBS Social Learning Platform focusses on peer-to-peer learning and networking within the school's MBA cohorts and alumni. The team of students have already hosted five webinars as part of the WBS Social Learning Series and attracted hundreds of MBA students from the Full-time, Distance Learning and Executive cohorts with subjects ranging from ‘Starting up Your Own Consultancy’ to ‘Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Strategic Innovation’.

They are now looking to grow the platform by creating a podcast series and blog plus building a LinkedIn group where they can also hold one-to-one interviews.

Panel members for the webinars are MBA peers and alumni, who are experts in their fields looking to share their knowledge with others.

Sumit Malhotra (pictured), one of the co-founders and a seasoned project manager and executive coach, with a record of leading strategic initiatives and transformation in Fortune 500 companies, said: “Through discussions in various MBA cohorts, we noticed the abundance of diverse expertise and the benefit of sharing it.

WBS has always stated that in an MBA programme 50 per cent of the learning comes from your cohort members, and we could see this playing out through ideas put forward by other students. Someone had to take the responsibility of fleshing out this initiative and putting it into action.” 

Co-founder Diana Popescu, a business manager for Piltec Limited, a global manufacturer for technical components in the automotive industry, said: “Ultimately, this platform is designed to be by the students and for the students. MBA cohort members and alumni reach out to us with their ideas and where they would like to add value.

The audience benefits through these diverse and pragmatic perspectives, while the speakers gain visibility in their area of expertise and it provides a great opportunity for targeted networking.”

Periodic surveys are sent to MBA students to ascertain what topics they would like to learn about and to call for speakers or panel members. The Social Learning Series had a record 418 people register for one of its events, and typically up to 250 attend online.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been a source for topics and discussion, Sumit said the idea for the webinar series was being touted before the coronavirus outbreak.

The Distance Learning MBA student said: “The seeds of this idea have been thrown around for the last two years among cohorts and the tangible proposal for this started taking shape at the end of 2019 and early this year. The pandemic did act as a trigger as due to the change to routines and heightened need for networking, it provided the appropriate time to launch this initiative.”

The WBS Social Learning Platform is looking to expand further, and bring other formats such as one-to-one interviews on LinkedIn, possibly a podcast series and blogs. Recently, they have created a LinkedIn group exclusively for the WBS MBA community to channel these initiatives and create an active networking space.

“I think the Distance Learning MBA format means most of our peers are comfortable with remote collaboration and also the cohorts are typically larger in size, said Diana, who is studying the Distance Learning MBA.

Due to the remote nature of the course, we also have access to more diverse perspectives geographically. Having said that, we want to be inviting to members from other MBA cohorts, including the Full-time and Executive programmes. They are more than welcome to participate in the Social Learning Series as a presenter, moderator, panel expert or audience member.

Sumit added: “Digital branding and raising visibility is key to success in today’s world, perhaps even more given the current circumstances. We provide our members with a platform to increase their visibility and to network actively, through adding value to others.

“We are both grateful to the WBS CareersPlus team for supporting this initiative wholeheartedly and backing it 100 per cent.”

Those wishing to attend can register for events through my.wbs or Eventbrite, while those looking to contribute can email Sumit at Sumit.Malhotra@warwick.ac.uk or Diana with Diana.Popescu@warwick.ac.uk.

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