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Lancaster Teams Up With Ex-Saatchi & Saatchi CEO To Boost MBAs' Creative Leadership Skills

Kevin Roberts – CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi for 17 years – just hosted a series of leadership coaching sessions for students on the Lancaster MBA


Wed May 10 2017

Have you ever felt that the business world today is a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous place? With unpredictable politics and developments in technology changing our personal and professional lives, it’s easy to see why you might.

Lancaster University Management School has teamed up with global business leader Kevin Roberts – CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi for 17 years – to prepare MBA students for today’s VUCA business environment.

This year, Kevin has hosted three leadership coaching sessions at the school, working with MBA students to share his wealth of experience and prepare them for the unpredictable.

In the private sector, Kevin’s executive coaching sessions cost participants over $50,000. Students on Lancaster’s full-time MBA – ranked among the top-50 MBA programs in the world by the Financial Times – get them included for free.

“We live in a VUCA world; a world of disruption,” says Kevin. “To lead, we need new techniques and skills, and a hunger to grow, attack and change,” he continues.

“[I hope to] help Lancaster’s MBA cohort become inspirational leaders, equipped to win in our crazy world.”

A Lancaster native, Kevin's career has seen success follow him into all of his roles, from senior marketing executive for Gillette and Procter & Gamble, to CEO of Pepsi Canada. After leaving his global CEO role at Saatchi & Saatchi, he founded his own coaching business Red Rose Consulting.

While he didn’t get an MBA himself, he sees the Lancaster MBA’s unique Mindful Manager Module – where MBA students pause for reflection and look to develop their critical thinking skills throughout the MBA curriculum – as the perfect context for his leadership coaching sessions.

“The Lancaster MBA provides candidates with the knowledge and skills they need to be competitive,” he says. “To this, I hope to add a cultural toolbox that will help develop a winning attitude."

What is the key to success in business today? “We live in the age of ideas,” Kevin continues. “Winning companies will create cultures of creativity and innovation or whither on the vine.

“Creativity is an art, grounded in science. We are all born creative – look at any three-year-old playing – but it’s systematically squeezed and drained out of us. We can rediscover it through learning, practice and confidence.”

During his tenure at Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin promoted a ground-breaking marketing concept lovemarks, intended to replace the notion of brands. Saatchi & Saatchi won a $430 million contract with a leading US department store chain on the back of the idea – that emotion is what can inspire businesses and brands to deliver sustainable value.

In Kevin’s intense coaching sessions, he says it's important for students to embrace a fail-fast, learn-fast and fix-fast mentality, vital to navigating complexity and uncertainty in business today. He also wants students to make “happy choices” that they believe in.

Coaching MBA students at Lancaster, it's obvious that he practices what he preaches. “I love it, or I wouldn’t be doing it!” he says. “I love the students’ diversity, hunger, ambition, wit and approach to life.”

As Kevin empowers students with his approach to leadership and lessons he's learned, he says it's incredibly satisfying to see Lancaster MBA students start to figure out just how good they can be.

Student Reviews

Lancaster University Management School




An exceptional educational establishment in the North West of England.

This university has been a fantastic life experience as well as a great academic one. I first decided to go to Lancaster University Management School due to its exceptional business education facilities and have not been disappointed. I recommend the university to anybody that wants to put themselves in a strong position for a career upon graduation.




On Campus

Student Ambassador

Overall, the instruction is decent, however it also depends on your department. The people are friendly, in my opinion. The sporting events are enjoyable, and there is a good sense of community. Although the city is quite remote, it is nonetheless attractive.




Lancaster University honest review

The education system in the university is excellent especially that of the Management School. The campus has great facilities for students to study and live in a relaxed manner. The students can engage in various activities through the socities.




Great opportunities to think beyond

Lancaster University provides a lot of good opportunities to think beyond.There Entrepreneurship in residence program helps students to meet and seek guidance about entrepreneurship and the challenges.Their Work in progress program help to fabricate your startup idea and further to pitch to the potential investors.Apart from that there are lot of programs like Enactus, guest lectures and guidance from seniors to help and shape your career needs. They provide lot of opportunities to shape up your employability skills.




On Campus

A top university in the UK for management science!

If you’re interested in management science studies, Lancaster University is one of the top universities in the UK. The faculty is renowned and have a sterling reputation for research in management science. Candidates specifically interested in Forecasting would find the Centre for Marketing Analytics and Forecasting especially relevant to their field. Besides, the ROI is good as the overall cost compared to other universities is less.




Great university for academia – not great for 'entrepreneurs'

Please keep in mind that my review is nuanced by my expectations of an Entrepreneurship degree :) I came to Lancaster University because it was one of the top universities to have a course in Entrepreneurship. After 4 years in this degree, my most valuable experience has been my placement and not the actual course. The course is heavily focused on impractical elements, which is a bit odd for an Entrepreneurship degree. There are some modules that involve hands-on work but the faculty support for such things has not been great. My course also involved a lot of teamwork which has been fantastic and really prepared me when it comes to dealing with the diversity of opinions. In terms of career prospects, the management school does A LOT to host events, workshops and support sessions to help you build up your employability skills. Although, I wish there was more acknowledgement of SMEs/startups as a viable career option. The entrepreneurship team which is meant to support budding businesses is really stepping up their game with tons of guest speakers, workshops and pitching opportunities. The location is a concern if you're not in STEM, Law or Accounting and Finance. Business requires networking with the broader community. However, for Lancaster students, the best bet is a trip down to Manchester or London. On the flip side, living in Lancaster is much cheaper! Overall, if the purpose of your university experience is to receive top academic education and have great facilities at your disposal, Lancaster is a great choice. But if you want to be in business and entrepreneurship, I would look elsewhere.