MBAs Get To Network With Thought-Leaders And CEOs At Cass Business School’s London Symposium

Guest speakers this year included former lord mayor of London, Sir Andrew Parmley, Framestore CEO, Sir William Sargent, and explorer Levison Wood

MBA students get to network with global thought leaders at the Cass Business School London Symposium. It’s why they run the event, says Dr Sionade Robinson, associate dean for MBA programs at the school.

It’s a chance for students to be exposed to thought leadership “across the sectors that drive London—finance, property, retail, creative industries, and sports.”

Now in its fifth year, Sionade says that Cass has both a wealth of industry connections and alumni who deliver lectures, networking opportunities, and longer-term career enhancement for students from every corner of Cass Business School.

The London Symposium this year hosted guest speakers Sir Andrew Parmley, the former lord mayor of London, Sir William Sargent, CEO of Oscar-winning special effects company Framestore, and Levison Wood, revered explorer.

“Because of our network, and our ability to curate thought leaders, we are able to give students a backstage pass to what’s happening in the boardrooms of organizations that have made London home,” Sionade explains.

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She says that Sir William Sargent employed a Cass graduate a few years ago—this year that alum invited a team of students to Framestore for a backstage Q&A. They had to sign non-disclosure agreements before they went in, recalls Sionade, “but they looked as if they’d had their minds blown when they came out!”

Company visits come in the afternoon, after students have heard from guest speakers. There are also trips to cultural institutions all over London—including the British Museum, Royal Institute, and the National Gallery.

Cass Business School students get to mix with students from guest business schools as well—this year Sionade says teams of students from Amsterdam Business School, LUISS Business School, and Mannheim Business School were in attendance.

There is a real community aspect, she explains—summed up in no better way by the fifth anniversary ‘flash mob’ (below) that the school put on at the closing ceremony.

“International visitors really get sense of what London is like as a city,” says current full-time MBA student at Cass Business School, Margaret Schroeder.

The London Symposium immerses students in the dynamic work businesses are doing in the city to tackle technological change and adapt to a rapidly changing business environment.

Margaret—who runs her own consulting firm, working with arts and entertainment companies—highlights Sir William Sargent’s talk as the most compelling.

“It was relevant for me because I work in entertainment,” she says. “He spoke about how [Framestore] leverages its network and partnerships to manage a creative business in the 21st century, in an industry where there is increasing consolidation.”

The faster technology changes, the faster industry has to move. That is something students find easier to learn through direct interaction with the companies at the vanguard of this movement.

“It’s so much more practical to have people in a room present different views,” Margaret admits. “To be able to talk to them candidly when they are not presenting—that’s phenomenal, it’s not something you get in a classroom environment.”

Networking with these people is vital, she continues, if that’s what you wish to get from your MBA. The Cass MBA sets students up to get the most they can out of the London Symposium—it comes after seven months of intense classroom study, so students enter conversations with industry experts with an understanding of key business concepts and industry trends.

Will something come of the connections Margaret has made?

“For me, certainly, because there happened to be guests who were extremely relevant to my industry,” she says.

“The networking that you do, and the people that you meet, and being able to demonstrate your knowledge of an up-and-coming issue in a job interview, that’s the kind of stuff that’s going to make a difference when you graduate.”

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