Apr 202008

After the Skoll Forum, my jet-set life continued. Blew over to Blenheim where we saw lots of nice furniture and Churchill-y stuff. I’d suggest just the grounds, though– touring through the house was a bit much… unless lots of nice stuff in big ostentatious rooms is your thing. Also saw lots of photos of Churchill. He looked like himself– sort of round and baby-like– from the time he was about 24 until his death.


We will fight them in the beaches and the landing grounds…

I have to apologise to anyone in San Francisco that I didn’t see. I told a very few people that I was coming and was incredibly busy while I was there– finishing up my Entrepreneurship Project and my final project for my Financial Management class. So, if I missed you, I apologise. I surprised a bunch of people at Brass Tax First Friday, and had some good booty shaking there. Ali and I had a really nice trip up to UC Davis to see KJ, where we hung, ate not nearly enough, drank far too much, and stayed up way too late. Then back to Pacifica to see Lael and Drei and wee Ms. Sascha. Finally off to Mark’s BBQ and saw the Magicglasses-ish crew. All of which was really good. It was good to visit with friends, to see how little — and how much– had changed. 3 children born since I left, and more on the way (here in Oxford).

Mixed in with that I went off ot the Graduate Business Forum at Cal, and met “leaders of leaders” from all over the world. This turned out to be a conference for MBA class presidents and whatnot– most of the European schools don’t really have that– we have representatives, but not any specific class officers. Still and all, it was good to meet with a bunch of these MBAs from all over the world– to size them up (and be sized up) in terms of ranking, quality, etc. To find out how similar the issues we have may be (knowledge management issues, for instance).

Following that, Luk and Marguerite met me in SF and we drove down to LA (after a fabulous meal at Maverick. (I didn’t get to Delfina this time– a tragedy, but yo ucan only do so much).

Then we drove down the 1 to LA.


Marguerite backlit somewhere south of Esalen.


California Luk

We competed at the UCLA Global Leadership Competition, and took a place in the finals. The competition was broadly a case competition, but with the idea of leadership laid on top of all of it, so there was a Leadership Succession case, a disaster press release, and a post-M&A acquisition plan.

UCLA did a great job putting this on– even more so considering they’d never done this before (one minor hiccup in that there wasn’t nearly enough coffee, but the open bar at the nightclub on Friday night made up for that… and the 6AM bus Sat AM made up for that.) They also did something unique amongst MBA competitions, which was to split up the groups for the second case– I was in a group with people from Queen’s University (Canada), Nat’l University of Singapore, USC/Marshall, and UCLA. We had an hour to respond to a press release situation (a mine collapse), assign ourselves roles (CEO, COO, VP of Safety, etc), and I think we did swimmingly. We did have a geologist on our team, but more important was that, I think, we went in without any ego, figuring out who was good at what, and no one tried to force being the leader– we let the team and the situation lead and it worked really well for us.I got to watch a couple of other groups, and it appeared that that wasn’t always the case.

One great outcome of this is that I now have some idea of what kind of teamwork training these schools get.


These people will run the world.

At the end of the day, it was first place: LBS, second place: Queen’s University, third place: Seoul National University. I didn’t get to see Queen’s or SNU, though LBS followed us. As far as we could tell, we took a very different approach to the case than others did– LBS took a very textbook approach to the case, and did a very solid, detailed operational plan, and I applaud them for it. To my mind, they didn’t speak much to leadership specifically, while we tried to wrap everything we talked about in leadership terms, focusing less on operational details and more on fitting the company cultures together. Our aproach was not a typical MBA approach (we told the company to stick with their 20 year policy of “no layoffs” in order to maintain integrity). and we may not have communicated ourselves very clearly. This may have hurt us in the long run, and we’re a bit disappointed that the leadership elements didn’t seem to give us the win, but that’s life.

We felt a bit vindicated that the company actually followed an implementation plan very similar to ours, despite lots of press and industry naysayers, to great profits in the mid- and long-term.


Global Leader Finalists… before the announcement.

I had to leave early on Sunday to get back and host something I’ve been working on– somewhat quietly– for the whole term: the inaugural Oxford Summit on Business and the Environment. This is something that I hope I can work to make sure continues in the future, as it was (despite my enormous ego) one of my favourite events of the year.

We had several fantastic speakers– Sir David King, lately of the Smith School, Mike Barry from Marks and Spencer’s (he’s their architect of Plan A), Alejandro Guitierrez from Arup, Ella Heeks from Abel and Cole, Charline Browne from IKEA, and Martin Charter, who’s been working in sustainability and sustainable design for 20 years (and who gave an overview of current changes in sustainability, environmental business, and design that was so fast and also so sophisticated that it was literally breathtaking– I’m not sure if Martin took a breath during the whole 50 minutes he spoke.

Green Biz Events and 2 degrees helped us immeasurably in this process, from funding to helping us source speakers. We were lucky to have such great partners to work with.

Takeaways: More time! For everything. Don’t get off of a 12 hour flight at 8AM for a 2PM conference. More business cards! More networking time. You can never start planning too early.

Now: Trinity has started. This is the wind-up (or wind-down) of the year. Branding and Communications. Real Estate. Entrepreneurial Finance. Social Marketing Lab. Customer Insights. Corporate Valuation. Another round of assignments. Another round of groups. The search for the perfect SCP and/or Internship.

And that pesky wait for our grades & our pass list.

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