Warwick Business School - Alumni Technology Network
Mark Skilton, Warwick MBA class of 1992 is one of the Lead Ambassadors of Warwick Alumni Association and head of the Technology Professional Network
Mark Skilton is the Global Technical Lead for Cloud Solutions and Portfolio Services at Big Four Consulting firm Capgemini, based in the UK. His career to date includes roles at companies as diverse as BSkyB and tech outsourcing firm CSC.
Mark graduated with an MBA from Warwick Business School in 1992, and he is now head of the School's Technology Professional Network and one of the lead Ambassadors for Warwick Business School’s Alumni Association
Warwick Business School has an interesting approach to clubs: they are integrated with the alumni association, so MBA students who join the Technology Professional Network will immediately start interacting and working alongside Warwick alumni who are in the technology world.
This makes for great connections with the post-MBA corporate world, top level speakers at the Network’s events and, of course, great access to job opportunities!
What is the name of your club? What does it do?
The Technology Professional Network (TPN) is aimed at Warwick Business School alumni who have an interest in technology. This can be IT, engineering or any application of technology in business. Technology pervades everything that we do, so the club was created to talk about the impact that technology has on business and society and how it’s applied in social and commercial settings. As a b-school, Warwick are always looking at ways that technology is building business.
TPN is mostly made up of alumni, but anyone can join. We run webinars (online seminars and lectures) on topics delivered by alumni or technical industry experts – and both current MBA students and alumni are welcome to join in. We welcome all students from the business school’s graduate programmes, but the bulk of the members are alumni.
WBS alumni association has 30,000 members worldwide. We have the largest presence on Linkedin of any b-school in the UK and Europe, and we have the sixth or seventh largest presence of any business school in the world!
What are your Club’s big initiatives this year?
We have launched a set of technology lectures, which take place virtually as webinars. We talk about topics such as advanced engineering in manufacturing services, how innovation works with technology and how it can be used in a start-up to make money on the internet (the latter being one of the most popular!).
One discussion taking place this evening is entitled ‘Cloud services for start-ups’ with Stuart Turner, Founder and Director of Sapien. This webinar will explore some online web services that every early stage business should be aware of. Not just Google Apps, Wordpress and VOIP but Syncplicity, Dropbox, Zoho, Mailchimp, Survey Monkey, Evernote, Xero, Podio, Lastpass and the rest. As a start-up today, it’s often easier and less expensive to use better services than your past employer.
We typically have 20 to 30 people join us for the webinars but they’re all recorded on video and posted up to the WBS clubs platform for those who are in different time zones or missed the live session!
Another big thing we plan to do is extend our network to alumni and students in China and India – we want to be better connected with them. The plan is to set up a board of leaders and core group members within these areas.
How many members do you have?
At the moment we’ve got 500 members and a board of five to ten people who are working in four key areas:
- Practical uses of technology - How to apply the theoretical learning from university and business school.
- Technology in action - Real examples of nano technology, advanced engineering and small start-up case studies, illustrating how they’re using technology to accelerate products and services!
- Showcasing research from Warwick Business School, a world leader - providing a gateway to alumni and subject matter experts, plus getting access to what the business school has been working on!
- Engage the market - with emerging markets such as China and India, also contacting industry directly, in particular targeting the top 500 companies in the world.
We don’t have any corporate sponsors at this stage, although we would like to in the future. However, we are keen to remain ‘tech neutral’, with no particular bias towards one type of technology.
My background is with Capgemini – I’m the IT Guy!…But I realise that tech is not just about bits and bytes, and it can be about hard machines. We encompass the large scale and the small scale – having that breadth is the power of the community.
Why (and when) would someone join the club?
Most members join when they’re studying and looking to engage with alumni. They see it as a great networking opportunity. Once they’ve graduated and have moved on we try to bring them back into the network to contribute as alumni. I graduated many years ago, but I see this as a great way to give something back.
The TPN has a number of different roles for different people, depending on what stage they’re at in their careers. Personally, I enjoy the academic sessions but we attend Freshers Week for new students and provide them with opportunities to meet alumni and companies.
Right now I've got an MBA student coming into Capgemini for a three-month dissertation project – a great opportunity created by the TPN.
What has been the biggest challenge for your club so far?
Bandwidth. We have a huge number of alumni: 30,000 in total (not just in the tech club).
Within TPN, we need to cover all technology bases. Tech is pervasive in the way we socialise, work, create our government policy, in countries’ economies, their political structure, the ‘Arab Spring’.
Ubiquity is starting to be a buzz work…’ubiquitous computing’ - tech being everywhere - that’s the way the world is evolving. But there are consequences for sustainability and effects on the planet. This is extremely important for future generations.
The club infographic below, a technology globe/sphere, illustrates some of the types of technology in today's society, and it's pervasive nature!
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