An innovative approach

Alex Martin
13 September 2013
Alex Martin - April 2013Alex Martin is writing a series of blogs about studying part-time for an MBA. You can find his previous entries here. August’s week in Geneva was all about innovation and upstream purchasing. I started off the week with my usual commute and on my arrival enjoyed a boat trip (in a floating restaurant) with some friends Sunday evening. I was a little late and had to run to catch the boat – this gave me a flavour of the week to come. Our professor was the MBA programme director at the EIPM. Before the week started, the students were placed into groups and given case studies to read and preparation work that was to be completed before our first lecture. I was in a group that had a case study on the pharmaceutical industry. On Monday morning, we were given a brief outline of what was in store: using suppliers as a source of innovation and the wider area of innovation; regarding innovation, we should focus our efforts more on exploration versus exploitation; and finally, an expectation was set that by the end of the week we will have tools, methods, practices and principals that we can use in our day jobs. All of these points were to improve strategic understanding by connecting innovation, the economy and technology. We had several workshops and interactive sessions enabling us to fully engage the new concepts. The results of our group workshops were presented back to the class through a mix of PowerPoint, flip charts and sometimes just presenters themselves. As with the other modules, we had a presentation from an alumni member and this time it was the procurement head of change management and communications at Novartis (from New Zealand but based in Switzerland). On the social side, some colleagues and I headed back to the apartment where we had dinner cooked for us by another colleague from Vodafone India on Wednesday evening. Thursday evening, after the presentation from the alumni member, all students had contributed to food and drinks for a BBQ. This was a really pleasant evening and allowed us all to cement our relationships. Unlike previous modules, the innovation module is graded only on the exam. But the exam was still three hours and with six questions of which three had to be answered – one question per hour. I know I keep mentioning this but this module gave me more ideas for my dissertation! There are several areas that I can see fitting into my topic – which I’m still finalising. I stayed in the region for the rest of the weekend as a short holiday – seeing as I’m using all my annual leave – this is as good as a break as I can get. My next actions are to finish the maturity assessment of my employer’s procurement function and prepare for the next module in October. ☛ Alex Martin is IT business service principal consultant at SAP. He welcomes comments and LinkedIn connections 
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