Day Two of the MBA London Symposium discussed the new demands of leadership in organisations, with trailblazers from across the world of business exploring innovative ways of working into the future.
The second day of the four-day elective, which welcomes participants from Bayes’ MBA programmes, was held at the Royal Geographic Society. Speakers focused on what leaders can do to create a positive and forward-looking vision for the future growth of business that is beneficial to the economy and wider society. Additionally, there were discussions on how businesses are leading workforces today around this vision, the role they can play and how they can develop and progress.
The second day was opened by Sally Taplin, event organiser and Visiting Lecturer at Bayes Business School, who encouraged the audience to unpack terms such as ‘business purpose’.
“How can we engage and use it in our own business spaces? It is a buzzword and unpacking that is important to achieve our goals.”
The day began with a conversation between Atif Sheikh, CEO at Businessfourzero, and David McMillan, CEO of esure, on how leaders can set a positive vision for business in the economy and society, and for their people.
The discussion on how to fix the insurance industry for good encompassed how to achieve this, including the need to achieve four pillars – magnetic value, an unbeatable platform, data magic and driving good.
“Purpose is how you can create a business innovation that will allow you to grow your business,” said Mr Sheikh. “My advice is, when creating a strategy, you need to always bring it back to who you are targeting and why. Execution is what matters. You have no chance if you can’t explain the strategy in 35 words.
“When I joined esure from Aviva, I worried about the strategy’s ability to capture the hearts and minds of people that really mattered,” added Mr McMillan. “Data is at the centre of how we anticipate needs. Do you offer a customer cash or offer them help in fixing their treasured possession? The magic of data comes from how we use it in the service of the customer.”
Mark Sherwin, Managing Director of Accenture Song, spoke about the role of businesses in the economy and society today, and the need to keep changing and evolving in a post-Covid world, with 77 per cent of CEOs agreeing that their company will fundamentally change the way it engages and interacts with its customers.
“We found businesses saying, ‘we need a deeper purpose’,” he said. “This includes the New York Times, the Army and Babylon, who are having root and branch rethinking of the ways they reach people. You need to set a purpose you can live up to across an organisation, not just in marketing and fit into micro-moments.”
Mr Sherwin also impressed upon the audience the value of integration, and optimising customer touchpoints and accessibility.
While men’s football is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world, the progress made in the women’s game is only now able to forge its own path in creating a clear purpose. This follows long spells of prohibiting women from playing football, plus negative stigma, with the need to build momentum for change.
“Our purpose is to break barriers and inspire positive change over the next four years”, said Marzena Bogdanowicz, Women’s Football Commercial Director at the FA. “We want to get equal access for girls in schools and clubs, build the best professional women’s sports leagues and competitions in the world, and for England to win a major tournament.
“Euro 2022 will be the biggest event that happens to women’s sport since the 2012 Olympics. We need to maximise this moment to drive legacy after the tournament, to ensure more women and girls are watching, playing, and getting involved.”
The final keynote session was with Leadership expert Rene Carayol. Mr Carayol explained the value of leading and offered experiences on working with senior leaders on shaping and engaging organisations in a purposeful way.
“We need to create an environment where everyone can flourish. The culture and values of business is so important, it must never be overlooked. Leadership in the 21st Century now needs to envision a world that doesn’t exist yet and to make it a reality. All of us can be leaders, and that is a gift, it can be improved and developed. It is a choice we all have.”
The day’s masterclasses were led by Businessfourzero, who ran a workshop showing MBAs how to create a clear and focused business purpose for growth, that strikes a chord with all employees; the Aleto Foundation, with David Villa-Clarke, exploring the development of the next generation of leaders from diverse and underprivileged backgrounds; and Maggie Murphy, CEO of Lewes FC, who are the only club in Europe with equal playing budgets for men’s and women’s sides. A group also visited Wembley Stadium to tour the stadium and hear a narrative on the growth of the women’s game in recent years, alongside the men’s, at Wembley.
Ms Murphy climbed 5,714m with a group of female players in 2017 to play a match atop Mount Kilimanjaro. The stage was to highlight the inequalities women face in football and sport more widely.
“When we think of professional football we think of men’s football,” she said. “I have done a lot to try and change this, but it has not been easy. To try and bring about change in this space you need a certain approach. I have needed to get angry but have learned to ensure I am listening to the right people and am constantly checking my KPIs.”
Ms Taplin closed the day by saying: “Thank you to all our speakers, we have learned a great deal on how to be strong leaders and how to use purpose effectively and impactfully.”