All posts filed under “Cambridge MBA

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Kevin Roberts & his challenges


Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, is also the CEO-in-Residence at Judge Business School. He came in to talk to us recently about Winning with an MBA, which was particularly useful considering the somewhat dismal job market that we’ll be entering later this year.

First off, he’s really an incredible speaker. His staff has a virtual command center to run his presentation, with multiple laptops and a sound mixer! Impressive, and it certainly created a good first impression toward Saatchi & Saatchi. I’m really, really looking forward to the Creativity Workshop that he’s going to be running for the MBA class later this year. From what I’ve heard, it’s a very unique experience.

I don’t want to write too much about his talk with us, but do want to point out three challenges that he set out for us. I think these apply no matter who you are or what stage in life you’re at. We’ve been tasked with thinking about these and writing the answers down; you should do the same:

  • What’s my 5-year dream?
  • When am I at my best?
  • What will I never do?

Particularly on the 5-year dream, he pushed us to push ourselves. He called the 5-year dream of running your own business, etc., “pathetic.” It was a bit of a shock, but a fair point. That’s not much of a dream; we can do that right now if we chose. What’s our real dream, something that seems completely impossible right now? That’s what we should be aiming for.

The other two questions are more straightforward. Still, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves when we answer them in order to really get an insight into our own abilities and preferences.

I went out to dinner with some of my classmates straight afterward, and we started talking about these questions – specifically our dreams. It was interesting to hear what people thought. Perhaps it’s the current job market, but it was generally difficult for everyone to really expand their horizons to answer the question.

While I think I’ve come up with my answer, I’m going to hold off from writing it publicly. But I invite you to really think (and feel) hard and answer the questions above for yourself; it could make for an interesting revelation.

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Another reason why I blog

From the always-fantastic Seth Godin: Personal Branding in the age of Google

A friend advertised on Craigslist for a housekeeper.

Three interesting resumes came to the top. She googled each person’s name.

The first search turned up a MySpace page. There was a picture of the applicant, drinking beer from a funnel. Under hobbies, the first entry was, “binge drinking.”

The second search turned up a personal blog (a good one, actually). The most recent entry said something like, “I am applying for some menial jobs that are below me, and I’m annoyed by it. I’ll certainly quit the minute I sell a few paintings.”

And the third? There were only six matches, and the sixth was from the local police department, indicating that the applicant had been arrested for shoplifting two years earlier.

Three for three.

Google never forgets.

Of course, you don’t have to be a drunk, a thief or a bitter failure for this to backfire. Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.

Have you done a Google search on your name?

I blog because when I do, I can start to control what Google finds first.

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Things I wish I had known…

Alexandra posted an interesting list a while back on “Surviving Michaelmas Term” on the Cambridge MBA. I wanted to pick and choose what I thought were some great insights and pointers for future students. (I also grabbed a few from other people in the comments, too.) It’s really a list for surviving a one-year MBA!

1) Meet the class before classes starts. The first few pub outings were essential ice-breakers: even if you couldn’t remember anyone’s name afterwards…they remembered YOU!
3) Give up trying to remember the 5 different log-in names, 8 passwords and 29 websites you are supposed to check daily. Make friends with “responsible” people in class and have them inform you of all important notices.
4) Go to class. You don’t want to be that “person who doesn’t exist”.
5) Make sure you have an accountant in your study group. If you don’t, task someone besides yourself to become an accountant.
6) Bring a blanket to LT3 and iced-drinks to LT1, no matter what the temperature is outside
9) Accept every possible formal hall or fancy dinner party invitation. Otherwise you will forget how to use a fork and how to dress sensibly. The everyday jeans and sandwiches do not reflect the real world!
10) Do prepare a “plan of attack” for your career search. You will probably not follow it but it will make you feel better knowing you tried… when you realise you don’t have a job.
13) If you get a bicycle remember to get a helmet…and body armour to go with it.
14) Join rowing. Otherwise you will be envious of the people who wake up at 6:00am to go exercising in the freezing English mist and show up in class smelling like the Cam. (Really, that would make you more pathetic than them)
15) When playing Management Practice games remember that whatever you do and no matter how you excuse it, it IS personal!
16) There is only one Matriculation, one Halloween and one Christmas a year. Celebrate it at your college….and bribe colleagues to take you to theirs.
18) Go out after class and get drinks. Loads of drinks. Make Browns your second home!
Get a backpack. They are not exactly fashionable but unless you have a masseuse fund, you should use one. It will save you great pain.
Go to Enterprise Tuesday. These weekly lectures are basically a course in themselves, and celebrate the contagious entrepreneurial spirit of Cambridge.

I hope that this helps future Cambridge MBA’s! If I missed anything, please add it to the comments section below…

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OpenCoffee Cambridge & thoughts and ideas on the startup scene

First of all, thank you to everyone that came out to the first OpenCoffee Cambridge today! I wasn’t sure what to expect, and thought the worst case would mean about 3-4 people would just chat in the coffee shop. I didn’t try to make an accurate count, but I would guess about 30 people or so turned up, which was fantastic! I had a great time meeting and talking to a lot of interesting people.

Here are some photos from the day (my apologies for the blurry ones):

You’re getting close when you see this… you can’t miss it


Here’s the venue, Caffe Nero on King’s Parade


This is the view from the front door of Caffe Nero


In this photo I managed to catch Laurence, Geoff, Peter, and a couple others. (Geoff also blogged about OpenCoffee here.)


Louise was one of the women to show up (a fellow MBA)


The group ended up taking up a good chunk of the back of the shop; this was taken after people had started leaving.


It was a fantastic day, and virtually everyone I met and talked to today was either an entrepreneur or an investor. I want to specifically thank Laurence John and Richard Brockbank from Amadeus and Alex van Someren from Cambridge CfEL for showing up and being so enthusiastic for the idea of OpenCoffee.

After a little bit of research, it seems the two best options for organising a group like OpenCoffee is a Meetup group and a LinkedIn group. Since LinkedIn groups are free, that’s what I’ve setup first. Please click here to sign up. (Currently moderated to prevent spammers.) I think it would be great to start a Meetup group, too, but would like to gauge opinion before the $144/year charge. UPDATE: Peter Clark/Broadersheet has sponsored the Meetup group: sign up here! Please sign up so that we can let everyone know if/when we change venues… if we have a few more weeks packing Caffe Nero like we did today we won’t be welcome there much longer!

On a completely different note, a number of people had some interesting conversations about Cambridge and entrepreneurs. Talking with people today, it seems there are a few different issues that currently exist in the Cambridge startup ecosystem.

  • Social events – OpenCoffee Cambridge is meant to address this. Entrepreneurs just need a place/time to meet each other, demo what they’re doing and network.
  • Demo nights – Cribbing off of the NY Tech Meetup, I think Cambridge needs a night where entrepreneurs can show off what they’ve been working on, get feedback, and have a broader networking event.
  • Judge Business School – Judge is a great business school that could really make a difference to startups, but not enough MBA’s, MPhils, etc get involved in the startup ecosystem.

Initial thoughts on furthering the Cambridge startup ecosystem

Cambridge is an incredible cluster of startups, but it’s not perfect. These are three things that I personally think would be useful in order to address the issues above.

OpenCoffee Cambridge

After today’s success, this is certainly going to become a regular event.

Based on the feedback I got from everyone today, I think this will be most valuable as a weekly, daytime event. It ensures more angels and VC’s can attend (since that’s their day job), and needs to be weekly to develop the kind of relationships that are necessary. That doesn’t mean people need to show up every week! Just that it happens every week for the people that want to meet up.

Full Moon Madness Demo nights

A monthly demo night for entrepreneurs looking to demo their software, products, services would address the second issue. It would take place at night, ensuring as many people as possible can attend. (Both current and aspirational entrepreneurs.) Let’s face it… all entrepreneurs are a little bit mad so let’s celebrate it by demo’ing during a full moon!

This would mean that the first demo night would be Wednesday, March 11th. Are there any conflicts with that night? I’ve got one volunteer to demo already… are there any others? If there’s interest I’ll look into setting something up.

Cambridge Entrepreneurial Speed-dating

I’m not sure how this would work, but there’s a real opportunity to connect science and engineering students working on new ideas with business school students that have the business background to help commercialize them. Sometimes this will be science/engineering ideas looking for business help, other times it will be business ideas looking for science/engineering help in building prototypes, etc. I think it’s critical to get some creative types involved with this, too, but I’m not sure how.

This would ideally happen very early in the school year, and perhaps be repeated after a few months. It may be too late to effectively do this year, but perhaps if it gets developed a bit it would be ready for the fall?


OpenCoffee Cambridge is ON. Please stay tuned in for more information, but the next one will happen next week at the same time & place. (Thursday, 26 Feb, 10am-12noon at Caffe Nero on King’s Parade)

What do you think of the other ideas? Useful, not useful, something else entirely? I’d be happy to chat in the comments below, off-blog or at the next OpenCoffee.