Putting Business School Students to Work
The Judge Business School team, comprised of Naomi, George and Angus, were given a four-week challenge to review and overhaul Building Markets’ training materials for a Project Management course. At the end of the 4 week period, they delivered a 100-page Project Management manual including case studies and exercises, accompanied by three lecture-style presentations, ‘talking points’ for the instructor, and recommendations for the use of the materials. And now <Cue Drumroll> meet ‘the Judges’…
Naomi studied economics at Trinity College, Cambridge. She also has a passion for running (both track and cross country), and last year won the silver medal at the European Cross Country Championships. She is 22 years old and originally from the South West of England.
“Building Markets already had some great material that they were using on their current project management course. However, we noticed that surveys of past course participants had highlighted areas where there was high demand for more in-depth coverage, such as communication on a project. Building Markets had also suggested to us that we could include more interactive elements to the course, such as case studies and in-class exercises (which the previous course lacked).
To do all this in four weeks was a challenge, but in streamlining the course content – so that it no longer digressed into other areas of management education – we not only tightened up the syllabus, but ensured the workload was feasible. We also benefitted in this regard from the experience of our academic supervisor, Dr. Jane Davies, who teaches the MBA course on project management here at the Judge Business School.
Once we had developed the course materials, which included a course manual, lecture slides, course instructor ‘talking points’ sheets, and case studies and exercises, we ran them by an experienced project manager. Ron Kay, who manages projects on behalf of the University of Cambridge, approved of the course, particularly in light of the needs of smaller businesses.”
George is a 21-year-old mathematician from London who specialises in risk management and has also worked in actuarial consulting. George enjoys logic puzzles and is the UK Sudoku Champion, but also has a passion for classical music and loves playing badminton.
“Writing a project management training module from scratch was a great way to put ourselves in the shoes of businesspeople in a post-conflict country. Just like them, we had no formal training in project management – the important difference was that we were able to arm ourselves with textbooks and had access to experts. Nevertheless, we are aware that our own learning experience may be somewhat similar to that of an entrepreneur in Afghanistan or elsewhere and so it was important to pay close attention to our own pedagogical needs.
One way of making theoretical material more relevant to people’s lives is by getting them to apply it to very personal tasks, such as cooking a meal or driving a car. If you think about it in the right way, almost everything that we do on a daily basis could be classed as a project. Some of these everyday tasks might have much better outcomes if they were planned and managed properly, and the same applies to the world of business.”
Angus is a 22-year-old reprobate from Cheltenham who enjoys DJing from time to time, and climbing in the gaps when he’s not asleep. A love of Middle Eastern culture and a tendency towards an Orientalist mentality led him to engage in work with Building Markets, which he enjoyed thoroughly. In the future he hopes to work in Arabic diplomacy or International Development in the Middle East.
“With a pre-existing understanding of the work that goes into development, working on BM’s Project Management course was a pleasure. It was particularly gratifying that a knowledge of the Middle East was able to help to situate the work within the context of post-conflict countries. I think that, throughout, all three of us saw our work as significant on a global level, which was a magnificent experience to have as part of our degrees. Onwards to world peace, or at least a more comprehensive knowledge of project management. Presumably, however, this is the first step. Thanks for the opportunity, everyone.”