by Shweta Gupta, Executive MBA 2019
When I started applications to study for my Executive MBA at London Business School, many of my friends who knew about my background & interest in Technology & social impact were surprised by my decision to pursue a business degree. However, I believed that the people who were able to transcend the world of Atoms and Bits would be key to transforming the companies for the digital era and therefore ventured to attend my studies in London.
London, being one of the global hubs for both technology and financial organisations, finds itself as the top tech unicorn creator for Europe. The school’s TMC (Tech, Media & Communications) reps and TMC Clubs regularly arrange for students to visit technology focused events like NewCo London, London Tech week, and VivaTech Paris. There are also student-led treks to visit emerging technology hubs throughout Europe, including Berlin, Dublin, and Amsterdam. I was fortunate to visit the offices of Tesla and Deliveroo amongst others and I was also one of the lucky students to attend WeChat’s open class which was held at London Business School. Thanks to the partnership between LBS and Wharton Business School, I also had a chance to work closely with a social impact start-up in robotics space and pitch their potential to a group of investors.
Looking at the growing interest, LBS has decided to offer many technology electives to its students, including Product Management, Data Driven Customer-Centric Enterprsise etc. I decided to attend two of such courses, one of which was ‘Managing Digital Organisations (MDO)’ which was taught by Julian Birkinshaw and Farhan Lalji. Innovation focused MDs in my company were delighted that business schools are taking into account the needs of companies and have started to offer such courses.
While going into the MDO course, I had many questions running through my mind from an organisational perspective. With the world fast moving towards a digital economy, what skills do the companies need to adapt themselves to be successful? Does teaching everyone to code make the organisation ready for the next digital era? Do the traditional strategy frameworks still apply? How do we manage digital native employees who may never understand why the phone’s ‘speed dial’ is called a dial?
With Julian focusing on strategy and agility required by the companies to compete and Farhan providing technical context, we were challenged to think deeply into how technological concepts like Agile can be successfully applied throughout the organisation and which type of Cloud was most suitable for the specific business use case. With the speakers joining in from digital native firms like Uber and ASOS to traditional firms who had successfully transformed themselves like ING and Expedia, the course was an eye-opener about how they managed their continuous innovation. One of the finest discussions was about how companies are looking to compete with global technology giants like Google.
We all agreed that the companies can no longer keep playing by the old rulebooks as industrial boundaries are being redefined by the digital players. Machine learning has been around for a long time, however, the computing strength available now has turned even the tiny phone into a digital beast. Yet, the fundamentals to run a successful company have stayed the same for centuries and continue to do so:
(1) Experiment & Learn often;
(2) Don’t lose sight of what your customer wants;
(3) Hire smart people and find a way to keep them engaged.
While I am still on my (never-ending) learning journey and have started working through the ‘Elements of machine learning’ course next, the change in pace from learning ‘how to value a company’ to ‘how to train/test in Python’ has cemented my belief in London Business school as the leading future focused business school in Europe.