We live in a VUCA world—volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. With disruptive progress in technology, ominous challenges of sustainability, and tectonic movements in the world of politics, businesses must place innovation at their core to succeed.
Nic Windley chose the MBA program at the UK’s Aston Business School with these considerations in mind. Located in Birmingham, the UK's second-largest city, 93% of MBA students at Aston are international, nurturing a diverse learning environment.
An entrepreneur with extensive commercial experience in the corporate world, Nic's ventures were detrimentally affected in the financial crash of 2008. This led him to appreciate the adaptability and robustness required of successful initiatives, and the leadership skills needed to drive them.
"We have to think seriously about leadership in a context of change; we can't rely on things staying the same,” Nic says. “This requires developing dynamic organizations more suitable for such conditions.”
Aston Business School is acutely aware of these challenges. Aston Edge, a program integrated with the MBA, enables students to cultivate highly-tuned interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence based on behavioural scientific research. The program aims to hone critical thinking capabilities underlying effective decision-making and leadership.
Nic says that Aston's leadership principles emphasize restoring trust in organizations and leaders. A perceptive strategy—in a recent survey by American PR firm Edelman, 70% of respondents cited ‘building trust’ as the number one job for CEOs, ahead of ‘providing high quality products and services’.
"Including such leadership principles not only prepares us for the future, but also ensures that business makes a positive contribution to society," Nic observes.
Nic was awarded an MBA scholarship from Aston to fund his studies—the school’s personalized approach stood out.
"I applied to other UK universities, and was accepted to all of them. I looked at league tables, and other indicators of performance. However, it was Aston's engagement and responsiveness to candidates that impressed me; they showed an understanding of communication and marketing which was a good sign,” he says.
“I found them welcoming, open, and I liked the industry connections they've had for a long time.” For their final projects, Aston MBA students can undertake consulting projects for real firms.
Nic's project explores the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. He's collaborating with the school's engineering and mathematics departments to investigate opportunitites for commercializing AI technology.
Aston Business School also provides a comprehensive careers service and runs an alumni mentorship scheme to help students navigate opportunities after graduation. Nic is due to graduate in September 2018, well-prepared for the challenges ahead.
"Aston prepares us for the future," he says.