Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Conversations with MBA alumni Kelliann McDonald: Royal Holloway MBA Director at large

MBA Director at large: 

Catching up with Kelliann@Tate Britain

Kelliann McDonald, Royal Holloway MBA@Tate Britain, London

Kelliann McDonald MBA, met up with MBA Director Justin O'Brien recently for an in person networking update, just one full year after her graduation.  

Opting for a creative meeting venue rather than a ubiquitous Starbucks, or average restaurant they chose to suck up some very British high brow culture at the Tate Britain, which is located just across the river Thames from the infamous and iconic MI5 headquarters (as featured in the last two Bond movies).   

Kelliann is a consummate networker (and social media expert) so limited time together was efficiently interspersed with rapid fire updates on respective career developments, highlights from recent travelling and news from the Royal Holloway MBA programme, whilst strolling around the impressive range of historic and contemporary art and sculpture on show in the expansive gallery space.  

Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, William Turner, R.S. Cooper, Gilbert and George and Hockney got big thumbs up, more challenging and provocative work such as the Turner prize winning soiled bed from Tracey Emin perhaps less so.

Kelliann, who returned to UK for a weeks vacation to visit old friends and bring back the enormous London buzz she loves, is now happily settled as a management consultant in Washington D.C., USA. Currently she is working with a public sector client base for a well known, leading international consultancy firm Booz Allen Hamilton, consutlancy a very popular career choice for an increasing number of MBAs.  

Success (so far) a year on from MBA graduation includes (naturally beyond challenging and interesting work) having her own place, with a nice car in secure garage downstairs and a washer dryer inside the apartment. No more dull laundry runs for this sassy management consultant.     

So....was the MBA investment worth it ?

Out of professional curiosity Justin had to ask the big question "Was the MBA investment worth it ?"  Kelliann answered immediately "Yes !", it very much delivered the international experience she was seeking. 

"I am able to use my understanding of a bigger picture and analytical capability to help my clients become more efficient". "I gained invaluable worldly business experience that makes me stand out in the workplace".   

By way of example she was able to point to an image of Lloyds of London in one of the museum stores many books as a recent, real example "Uniquely, I was able to bring in my global knowledge base as we looked to identify best-of-class brand guidelines, thanks to my international study experience, no one else had even heard of Lloyds of London".  

Capturing content: Kelliann is an accomplished vlogger

What had Kelliann missed in a year away ?  An interesting year of authentic anti-establishment politics (e.g. Labours Corbynista revolution), the hit (free but book ahead) sky scrapper viewing space at the Sky Garden (20 Fenchurch Street, the high rise that looks like a mobile telephone) and Kinky Boots the musical - which theatre producer Alex Turner (who led some of Kelliann's drama classes) is actively involved in.  

Previously in this series:

Ibou Barry - Bermuda beverage industry

Other alumni stories can be found here:

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

British Airways Revenue Management: Jerry Foran guest speaker

British Airways' Jerry Foran

On the week British Airways was named by the Centre for Brand Analysis as the UK's favourite brand for the third year in a row, MBA Director Justin O'Brien invited one of the world's favourite airlines senior managers, Jerry Foran, to give a prestigious guest lecture to his MA Marketing Services class.  

Students got to see how theory they had already learnt about, concepts such as the Net Promoter Score, were being used as strategic dashboard measures to drive the international airlines service excellence.  

Questions came particularly thick and fast when Jerry shared insights into dynamic pricing and flight inventory management.   The topics of over booking, denied boarding compensation and upgrade policies were enthusiastically discussed, perhaps not surprising given the context of previous class content on service excellence and service guarantees.  

Innovative Flipped Classroom Learning

Royal Holloway's Justin O'Brien, who has been innovating with a flipped classroom strategy this term, has invited students to undertake key theoretical learning using text books and wider reading lists ahead of workshops.  Contact time is  then focussed more on engaging with the material and discussing how they would be applied in the real world, more interactive workshop than knowledge cascading lecture.

Students following this exciting services marketing module have, in addition to guest speakers like BA's Jerry Foran, also been invited to get off campus and attend a tourism experience (Warner Bros. Harry Potter), analyse the servicescape of a traditional English pub and engage with craft beer entrepreneur foundering partners at the Windsor and Eton brewery.  

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Learning Adventures in a Pub Servicescape: Are you pulling my pint ?

Are you really pulling my pint ?

Services Marketing students from Royal Holloway were taken by surprise on Monday when halfway through their workshop they were invited to pack up their stuff and head out into the big, wide world.  

With a significant storm passing through the idea of intrepid adventurers is perhaps only modest puffery.   Having engaged in MBA Director Justin O'Brien's flipped classroom lecture, that had considered service quality and the service environment (or Bitner dubbed 'Servicescape'), students were invited to put their learning directly into action with a nearly spontaneous field visit to the university staff's little known drinking hole, The Happy Man.    

This innovative servicescape seminar experience took place on Chinese New Year, so the MA Marketing students were not really being cheeky monkeys by engaging fully in a  multi-sensory experience that took in all five senses of the ambience.  One of the locals, bemused by the swarm of mid-afternoon customers, was overhead lamenting "I wish my university lectures had been like this."

Working in small groups the highly motivated masters students were challenged to put learning from the preceding lecture directly into action, seeking out examples of  signs, symbols and artefacts, assessing the service layout and evaluating the ambience,  from inside the warm and cosy pub (it was blowing a gale outside thanks to Imogen).  

Most students were unaware of the Happy Man, it is rather tucked away, but literally just around the corner from the students favourite 'Monkey's Forehead', which is also managed by landlord Dave Lacey. Both pubs are located just a few steps beyond Royal Holloway's imposing Victorian campus walls, but the mostly international student group were quite unfamiliar with the myriad of rituals that accompany English pub consumption.

Students toured the modestly sized, traditional pub searching out signs, symbols and artefacts. From pump ring logos to branded Guinness drip maps, Kozel beer signs and the last orders bell (see above photo) this authentic cottage bar offered much more than initial impressions might have suggested.  What does it mean, some pondered, to have charity collection containers nestled amongst the pumps ?     

Justin's favourite element of the Happy Man servicescape is the beer label murals, carefully and consistently fixed on top of the flocked wall paper to create a visual history of the many and varied guest beers consumed by regular customers.  Whilst perhaps a little quirky and unusual, each cask of new, guest beer is promoted using these modestly produced plastic laminated signs.  

Pragmatically even sometimes just a hand written sign on any old spare piece of white paper (see example above, centre photo).  To the cognoscenti the wall decor, which covers most of the vertical surfaces in each of the four separate rooms, provides a clear symbol of a "proper beer" pub, championing the CAMRA inspired grass roots craft beer movement, which seeks to celebrate small scale, local beer production by encouraging consumers to vote with their spending power.

The Happy Man is popular with local residents and regularly hosts beer festivals, where a wide range of different craft beer, often sourced from all over the country, is available to taste. The staff's favourite pub secret is now out, will Justin ever be forgiven ?