Is your company competitive? Here are 4 strategies to make it one! 

“No competition, no progress”

Bela Karolyi 

I could not agree more with the world-renowned Hungarian-born Romanian American gymnastics coach, who transformed gymnastics coaching in the US and was responsible for bringing home numerous international laurels. His words are not only applicable in sports but are equally fitting in the business world as well.  

Businesses do not operate in isolation. Gone are the days of monopoly where companies could dominate a market or industry. Today, in the fast-moving-digital-world, every business, big or small, faces stiff competition to hold a fair share of the market.  

Carefully analyze company’s competitive environment when formulating a business plan

When formulating a business plan, it is essential to analyse the company’s competitive environment. The competitive environment is the intricate external system in which the business operates and comprises of several factors or elements that affect and shape the industry. These elements include, and are not limited to:  

1. Competitors – Direct and Indirect  

2. Government regulations and laws  

3. Suppliers  

4.  Substitutes  

5. Technological trends  

6. Demographic Composition  

7. Network of Distribution  

8. Corporate culture  

Industrialists, innovators, and entrepreneurs need to think critically about these factors that affect the company’s profitability and success. (Also, check out our blog on 7 ways to improve critical thinking). It is imperative to understand the competition landscape and scope. This is necessary to prepare the kind of resources, investment, and technology required to build a sustainable and profitable business. In the good ol’ days, companies could thrive with little or no competition. In comparison, companies now must adopt new and innovative means to compete with other firms in the business environment and to have a competitive advantage over them. Strategic forecasting, planning, and implementation can lead to success in competition. Various strategies can help businesses build undefeatable and sustainable products and services.  

Caption – PESTEL model (reference)

Here are 4 strategies that can help build competitive advantages for your business:  

1. Cost Leadership  

Businesses run for profit. By definition, profit is a financial gain realised due to the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent on buying, operating, or producing a product or a service. It is one of the oldest tricks in the (business) book to be a cost-leader. When a business decides to pursue the cost-leadership strategy, it vows to provide the goods or services at a competitively lower price than any of its rivals can ever offer.

Such firms operate on the lowest cost structure, have reasonable control over the entire supply chain, suppliers, and raw materials, and have tight controls on the whole value chain activities. Walmart, IKEA, McDonald’s, Primark, and RyanAir are a few examples of firms that attribute their business success to a cost-leadership strategy.  

2.  Differentiation  

“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it  differently”.

Steve Jobs  
Why HERMES?

Offering a low-cost product is not always an option in a competitive environment. Different consumers have different demands. Companies, by providing high-end quality products, also influence many customers’ buying decisions, who would otherwise choose the cheaper alternative. Even though companies always intend to keep their costs low, they are willing to spend on research and development costs, marketing, customer service, or innovation to develop a niche product or service, for which consumers are willing to pay a premium price. Apple, Starbucks, Tesla, Tiffany & Co., Emirates, and Hermes are examples of companies whose thoughtful approach to differentiation and compelling storytelling strategy makes millions of consumers spend premium prices for their products and services.  

3. Focus  

This strategy is quite different from the above two strategies. Business here focuses its primary strategy, i.e., operating at a lower cost or adding value but on a limited market, much narrower in scope than the broader cost leader or differentiator. The company intends to make concentrated efforts based on either a particular buyer group, geographic uniqueness, a unique product line, or a special attribute appealing to a niche customer class to cater to the specific demand of a limited number of customers. Gucci, Rolls Royce, Diet Coke, NetJets, and DC Design are a few examples of companies that have successfully adopted the focus strategy.  

4. Strategic group  

“Anytime you find someone more successful than you, especially when you’re both in the same business, you know they are doing something that you aren’t”. 

Malcom X  
The Cosmetics Industry has close knit competition and companies follow similar strategies to build competitive advantage

Groups of businesses of comparable size and range that operate in the same industry and follow the same strategies to build competitive advantages are termed strategic groups. The competition is so closely knit in such environments that even a small movement by the competitor affects the others’ market position. It helps build a strategic group map to identify businesses’ closest competitors and evaluate how your company is positioned in the industry. Common examples of strategic groups are the restaurants, retailers, cosmetic brands, and the aviation industry.  

These are four strategies, more commonly known as Michael Porter’s ‘generic’ business-level strategies as these can be applied to any business, by any firm in any industry.  

Which strategy do you think is the most powerful in building a competitive business advantage in your own context? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  

Can entrepreneurship and innovation be taught? 

Can you think ‘out of the box’?

When I was in school, let’s just say a decade ago.. okay two decades ago, I remember being taught the principles of economics – theory of demand and supply, demand and supply curve, market equilibrium, price ceilings and floors, so on and so forth. Later as a business student at university, I learned about economic models and even more complex financial terms about running a business, such as behavioural economics, macro and microeconomic policies, government policies, international trade and its impact. I have no recollection of ever being asked to or being taught to ‘think out of the box’ (the economics book in this case).  

The businesses, usually large traditional corporations, family-owned companies big and small, ran on the business theories and principles established many years ago.  

Fast forward to the 21st century; I see a new world around me. The businesses are no longer just large corporations run on an old-school of thought. There has been a paradigm shift in the way the companies are run and how they are conceptualized in the first place. I am sure everyone remembers the time of late 90s and early 00s – ‘the infamous dot com/bubble era’ that vowed to change the world and as a matter of fact, it did change the world! 

The bubble burst vowed to change the world

The bubble era engendered a trend of entrepreneurship of a scope like never before. The entrepreneurs – the new gurus of the business world – worked on very different business principles and business plans. Business plans were mainly driven by the strategy of growing big fast, being ubiquitous, insanely high stock market valuations, and focusing on branding and marketing to gain market share. And to establish a new trend, the essential ingredient was innovation.  

Hence, the birth and rise of entrepreneurship and innovation.  

In today’s evolving business environment, entrepreneurship and innovation have become increasingly popular. There has been a notable rise in the entrepreneurial activities around the globe in the last decade. Even the corporations are paying heed to the increasing value of innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset in the workplace. It is now believed to correlate to organisation’s profitability and growth directly.  

There are several forms of entrepreneurship, such as Innovative entrepreneurship, social, scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, big and small entrepreneurship. To give some real-life examples, Tesla aimed to innovate the automobile industry by introducing luxurious yet affordable and efficient electric cars. On the hand, Uber, a scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, started with an idea to disrupt the taxi industry and attracted various capitalists’ interest and bagged millions of dollars in investment, scaling the business to an otherwise inconceivable level, growing the company worldwide.  

All entrepreneurs have one thing in common – Innovation

And all the entrepreneurs (and their companies) like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney, J.K Rowling, Jeff Bezos (the list cannot be exhaustive), have one thing in common – Innovation. Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, Tesla, Facebook, and Amazon witnessed tremendous business success through innovation by triggering a paradigm shift or evolving an old product with new technology.  

The benefits and increasing importance of innovation and entrepreneurship are manifold. As mentioned earlier, corporations are also realising their impact on their success. A study by Microsoft and McKinsey states that organisations show a direct correlation between employee retention and innovation, and innovative firms are more likely to retain employees. The study also reveals that companies that were assessed as having ‘innovative cultures’ were twice as likely to expect double-digit growth.  

So, the question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur, is naturally innovative, or such attributes can be learnt, and whether individuals can be  adequately trained to be innovative entrepreneurs.  

The question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur

“Profound growth requires innovation and, to foster innovation, you need people to feel trusted and supported to experiment and learn. There can be real returns for leaders who learn to let go and coach teams to constantly improve.”

Dr. Parke.  

To answer the question, yes, entrepreneurship and innovation can be taught, and with proper education, these skills can be mastered. By studying entrepreneurship and innovation, you can learn the underlying principles of starting a business, how to avoid common pitfalls, pitch ideas effectively, validate your product, develop a solid business model, and how to set yourself up for success in a field where failure is common. A good entrepreneurship and innovation programme will expose you to the challenges, contexts, and implications of entrepreneurship and provide you with a sense of the difficulties inherent in starting up and running a new enterprise. You will develop a critical understanding of contemporary discourses surrounding entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship as they are found in a range of national cultures and organisational contexts. The programme brings together relevant contemporary academic theory and research with a practical understanding of activities.  

We offer an online MBA Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme specifically designed to foster entrepreneurial and innovation skills to enable you to have a career managing innovation in existing firms and found new ventures. You will learn how organisations build value by applying entrepreneurial practices, the challenges and opportunities typically facing new and existing businesses, and the ability to design and implement creative strategies. Talk to one of advisors to find out more about the programme. 

Getting ready for 2021

Phew! It is 2021! 2020 is finally over and behind us. After having an incredibly unique (and for many a traumatic) 2020, I am a little sceptical and at the same time joyous and hopeful of welcoming the new year.   

Well, let me first extend my warmest wishes to you, our readers, happy new year! One of the greatest joys of this season is the opportunity to say thank you and to wish you the very best for the New Year.   

‘Tis the season…  

So, what do you think 2021 will look like? Are you ready to embrace the new year as it still encapsulates certain uncertainties? Have you set any personal goals, professional goals, or academic goals for yourself? Because it is that time of the year when we sulk on unfinished resolutions or celebrate their achievement (I fall more in the former category than the latter 🙁) and look forward to new ones!   

In my opinion, it will be much more than just resolutions this year. People are frustrated with unfulfilled wish-lists, lockdowns, and fear of the pandemic. Emotions are running high; there will be no holding back, it could turn out to be a year where you tick off all the boxes (or most of).  

Here are the five trends you must watch out for in 2021:  

1. Shoppable TV and social media influencers   

Consumers will be able to buy anything they like, on the go and instantly!

With worldwide lockdowns, the retail industry saw a categorical change with the brick-and-mortar stores shutting down. Shoppers had to move online, and the businesses capitalised on every opportunity to grab consumer’s attention. Consumers will be able to buy anything they like, on the go, instantly, as they watch the advertisement on their favourite streaming channels, or a product recommended by their favourite social media influencer. I have personally experienced this; a tik-tok video made the CeraVe skincare products fly off the shelves within days. That is a powerful sales tool.   

2. Big data becomes bigger  

Big data is inexhaustible

As we rely more and more on online platforms for almost everything, from groceries to banking, to buying cars to education, the data is building up exponentially and is inexhaustible. There will be an increasing new need for data analysis and customer personalisation.  

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

AI is predominantly the most significant trend to watch out for in 2021. With bigger data, better interpretations will be required to understand the world and the changing patterns of the consumers. In 2021, we are likely to see further sophistication in machine learning algorithms and tools.  

4. E-Sports  

Gaming is in line to become a multi-billion-dollar industry

Gaming is one of the sectors that was positively impacted by COVID-19. While other industries suffered losses, gaming has been trending and is in line to become a multi-billion-dollar industry by 2023. It is one of the top entertainment activities that people engage in, kids and adults alike.  

5. eLearning  

With the sudden closure of schools and universities owing to social distancing and self-isolation requirements in an attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve, online learning became a necessity overnight and is here to stay. There are several benefits of online education, such as flexible learning and quality education offered at affordable prices.

Robert Kennedy College has been a pioneer in online education since 1998. When you decide to study with us, we promise you an excellent course curriculum, British education, Swiss quality, highly qualified faculty and a variety of Online master’s programmes to choose from. Start early and talk to our education advisors to find out how you can make the most of the new year 2021 though learning.

Express gratitude this holiday season

2020 has been nothing but challenging for everyone in one way or another. Some people experienced greater difficulties than others. Nevertheless, everyone’s life, career, family, ambitions, dreams, and expectations from this year were affected. And as if matters were not bad enough, the world witnessed and was torn apart by numerous natural and man-made calamities: floods, wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, civil unrest, humanitarian and refugee crises. 

Now I do not want to sound all negative. There is another side to the coin too, a side that we very often fail to recognise and acknowledge. It’s the positives, no matter how small, that happened in our lives amidst this mayhem. We should acknowledge every little moment of happiness, joy, and success we received in the past one year and be grateful for it. Someone might have a new job (even in the pandemic), got a raise, bought a new house, started a family, explored local places (as it is advisable not to travel), got healthier and fitter, had time to be with family during quarantine, enrolled for that online master’s programme that was put on the back-burner, something that positively impacted one’s life. 

Let’s reflect and be thankful for everything! 

For me personally, the holiday season brings a sense of joy and happiness. I forget my worries and enjoy the holiday cheer and bright lights that are all around. It humbles me in many ways. 

Expressing gratitude may sound easier than it actually is, because humans are prone to complaining, blaming, finding fault, and making comparisons with others. However, I would urge you to take a moment and instead understand your own shortcomings and if you do compare, compare yourself with the less fortunate. You might come to realise how blessed you actually are! 

There are many ways to feel thankful and express gratitude: 

1.  Introspect: self-introspection can be very powerful to analyse one’s true self. 

2.  Have faith: it pays off to be patient and trust that everything happening is part of the bigger picture and it will help in developing you in better ways. 

Give back to society

3.  Give back to society: you can make your contribution and give back to society in various ways by volunteering, providing food, shelter, clothing to the needy, providing financial  or emotional support. It will make you feel better and useful. 

4.  Maintain a gratitude journal: as it is said, a man is but the product of his thoughts. The more you write about positive happenings and events in your life, more your thoughts become positive. 

Your thoughts become positive when you capture positive happenings in your life

5.  Express yourself: It’s important not only to feel grateful but also to express your gratitude and spread the cheer to your near and dear ones. 

Gratitude plays a very powerful role in transforming lives. Express your gratitude towards your family, peers, friends, colleagues, bosses, teachers and professors. I am grateful to all our readers who have enjoyed reading and have benefited from our blogs. 

Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays! 

Corporate governance practices are important for companies. Here are 5 reasons why!

Let me start with the basics.. 

What is corporate governance? Well, corporate governance can simply be defined as the systems by which companies are defined, directed and controlled. As the name suggests, it is the practice that governs the corporates to comply with legal, regulatory and risk requirements and meet the business demands. And it is mainly the responsibility of the Board of directors. It is important that the board takes on board (pun intended) the intertwined roles, relationships, and interests of the company’s various stakeholders.

A corporate has both internal and external stakeholders. The internal stakeholders include the company owners, management, executives, board of directors, shareholders, and employees. And the external governance stakeholders include the society and community, customers, suppliers, vendors, and debt holders.  
 

Because the corporates ( with the exception of s non-profit organizations) operate for profit, one of the main focus areas of corporate governance is to make the business leaders manage the finances in the most effective way, and in the best interest of their internal and external stakeholders. There are several laws and external regulations that monitor this aspect of corporate governance. However, many companies establish their own internal framework and regulations to ensure smooth and ethical operations of the organisation. 

Regardless of how big or small a company, it is important to have an established set of practices that dictates good corporate governance. It also looks good on the part of the company that their finances are well accounted for, and they have done some good deeds for society.

Now many argue that corporate governance does not affect the bottom line of the business and is not ‘necessary’ for running the business, as it does not affect the operational or financial performance of the company. It is difficult to put together and implement a customised corporate governance plan. The additional practices cost a lot of money and time going through the administrative procedures of organization’s bureaucracy.  

The other side of these arguments, however, stresses the importance of corporate governance practices and the impact they have on the successful running of a business in the long term.  

How corporate governance benefits a company 

Corporate governance is the foundational stone of any good business. There is a direct correlation between good corporate governance and enhanced shareholder value in the long term. It is an important tool in managing the business in an ethical way, and leading to its growth.  

Some of the key benefits of good corporate governance are as follows:

1. Power packed board of directors 

        As I mentioned above, the board of directors are responsible to oversee how the corporation runs. Good corporate governance focuses on establishing a strong board for the company, comprising of directors who are knowledgeable, competent, qualified, matter-expert and who hold strong ethical values. The board will then be able to provide strong and dedicated leadership, and vision to the company.  
 

Corporate Governance ensures the corporation has a strong Board of directors

2. Promoting ethical culture and corporate integrity 

     Good corporate governance practices lay much emphasis on integrity in all business dealings and ensuring the company is socially responsible. They ensure compliance with the law, and an ethical business code of conduct.  

3. Enhanced public image 

     In todays competitive business environment, having good corporate governance can prove to  be a differentiating factor working in favor of the company. Being socially responsible, contributing towards the environment, implementing sustainable practices, and other societal benefits, paints a good image for the company and builds confidence for both the internal and external stakeholders of the company.  

4. Boosts new investment 

     The venture capitalists and investors feel more confident in investing in a company with good corporate governance practices. They ensure good return on investment for the investor. Increased investments mean expansion of business, and create more employment opportunities.  

5. Effective risk management 

     A board of directors with a strategic vision is imperative in identifying potential risks faced by the company, such as industry specific risks, global markets, operational, legal, and financial risks. By evaluating risks, and implementing timely plans, good corporate governance practices can help mitigate risks for the company. 

If you are looking to advance your career specializing in Corporate Governance, we have got just the Master’s programme for you. Robert Kennedy College offers a 100% online LL.M Corporate Governance in an exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria.

You can chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programme, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Folarin

What is the best way to study online? Should you do an online programme? How to better manage time when studying online?

Questions, questions, questions!

These are all questions that we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get asked regularly by students who are looking to join one of our online programmes. Undertaking to do an online master’s degree programme will be an additional commitment on your time and finances, and it is smart to get information before hand, cross your T’s and dot your I’s, before making your decision. 

Through this series of blog posts, we asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled some of these choices and situations. Hopefully this will help you to make an informed decision. 

Learning from those who came before you is smart. I am not asking you to blindly follow what they are saying, but to take what they said worked for them, and see if it will work for you, maybe make a few changes (or a lot). In the end, only you know what works best for you!

Learn from those who came before you

Folarin is currently doing our M.Sc. programme in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, that we offer through an exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK, and this is what he had to say.

An Introduction

Who you are, really?

I am Folarin, from Nigeria

Which Uni are you studying with?

The University of Salford’s (UK), M.Sc. programme in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Which programme did you choose and why?

MSc. Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management. I have been a professional in the chosen career since 1996, when I obtained the Professional Certificate of the Nigerian Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management, now Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management of Nigeria.

The Study Plan

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?

I planned to be flexible, juggling work and study! The reality for me was planning, and studying between work hours. I cannot specifically count the number of hours I study per day – I study according to time-window of opportunity.

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)

I work tight schedules and was always exhausted during the weekdays. So, I found weekends most suitable to study – Friday evening through Sunday.

How much time did you devote for each assignment?

An average of one hour per day.

Travelling and Communication

How did travelling impact your ability to study?

Travelling helps me to relate life events with studying.

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?

I explore IT facilities and internet resources – Email and WhatsApp messages.

A typical day as a master’s student

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?

Dividing my attention, schedule, and activities to perform as both a Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management professional and as a student. Balancing work and study as a mature man with the responsibility to cater for a family of 6.

Any advice?

Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.

Identify your area of core competence and/or SWOT analysis of your personality. Evaluate your financial capacity in line with your regular income before enrolment for the online master’s programme.


Hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this place for more similar blogs. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Nigel

As a former Education advisor, if I had to pick one of the most frequently asked questions by prospective students, it would definitely be “How many hours do I need to study?” 

The vast majority (if not all) of our students are working and leading remarkably busy professional lives. Some are motivated and have already decided to undertake a master’s, while others contemplate the unknowns of an online programme. In my experience, two things effect their decision the most.  

First – finances, and second, being able to strike the perfect work, study, and life balance. While I cannot completely help you with the finances (partially yes – check out the discount offers currently being offered on our online MBA, MSc, and LL.M programmes), I thought what I could do to help was to bring some facts to light about the other unknowns – what does a typical day in the life of an online master’s student look like? 

I asked a few of our students from different walks of life, occupations, and personal situations to answer a few questions on their study tactics and strategies, plans and reality, and so on. I thank each one of the respondents for taking the time to share their experiences and give valuable advice to you – possibly future students. In our ‘a typical day in the life of a master’s student’ blog series once a month, we will bring to you one of our real students or alumni sharing the insights.  

Today, we’re looking at Nigel’s typical study days. Nigel, an RKC & University of Cumbria soon-to-be graduate, offered us these answers: 

An Introduction 

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Which programme did you choose and why? 

Nigel Lee Tranter (NT):  MBA – Leadership and Sustainability, I chose this topic for two reasons  

1. I have a passion and high degree of interest in both topics  

2. I wanted to study through a recognised programme and a recognised college/university, and I wanted something I could easily apply in the workplace 

The Study Plan  

VK : How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week? 

NT: My initial plan was to commit the majority of study hours at a weekend, however, in reality what actual worked was daily early mornings (2 hours per day) with a supplemental number at the weekend which flexed between 4 – 6 hours depending on workload. 

VK: What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?) 

NT: For me definitely early mornings starting at 5 or 5:30 

VK: How much time did you devote for each assignment? 

NT: I assessed the requirements after reviewing each assignment and built in an extra 30% as contingency to allow for extra reading, research and breaks as each assignment progressed, this was based on the evolving nature of discovering something new and interesting during the research phase. I set aside about 20 hours per week for studies.

Travelling and Communication 

VK: Did you travel for work? How did travelling impact your ability to study? 

NT: Only rarely did travel affect my study time due in part to the early morning start time plus mode of travel (usually train or airplane) allowed me to study while travelling also. 

VK: How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences? 

NT: The use of virtual and collaboration technologies eradicated the time differences. During my dissertation my supervisor and I agreed to also supplement using WhatsApp also to support the learning experience. 

A typical day as a master’s student 

VK: What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you? 

 NT: Start at 5 or 5:30am, study for 2 hours. Commence my normal business day around 8 am, finish my business day circa 6 to 7pm then depending on how I felt, perhaps another hour’s study, however this was always optional so as not to feel it was mandatory thus avoiding the learning experience becoming stressful. 

Any advice? 

VK: Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies. 

NT: Find your working space and condition yourself to prepare for learning when you enter this space. Build in contingency for holidays and breaks to avoid building pressure. Find your optimum study period of the day when you are most productive and experiment with this timeframe, learn how to research effectively to get the quality results you want, study productivity techniques that work for you and finally enjoy the experience. 

Alright folks, this was a sneak peek of a typical day in Nigel’s life as a master’s student. I hope you find it insightful and informative and that it gives you an idea of what to expect when you enrol for our master’s programmes. Watch this space as we have many more interesting insights coming up! 

Event Management during COVID-19

Well, I have said it before, and I am saying it again – we live in difficult times. But the more I think about it, maybe “difficult” is not the right term to use. I think the right word to use here is “challenging”, and “challenging” isn’t as bad as “difficult”. And what challenges give us, are opportunities.

This “opportunity” (and I know it might seem crass to term COVID-19 as an opportunity or as something positive, because it is definitely not positive, and I wish it never happened!) might not have been a choice and was forced on the world by COVID-19, but this is not the first time that the world faced a widespread pandemic and it will not be the last. Every time we faced something like this (global pandemic, world wars, etc.) in the past, we have come out of it stronger and better prepared for the future, so we might as well try to make the best of a bad situation now too.

Companies and individuals around the world are seizing on this opportunity that the challenge of COVID-19 has provided. New ways to think and work, new processes and operations, new businesses and technology, new products and services, and finally, new ways of managing events.

One of the sectors that have suffered greatly, at least in the short term, is Event Management. I mean, one of the basic ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, and that is the antithesis of a successful event.

The following are some of the challenges and/or solutions that event managers have come up with in dealing with COVID-19.

Cancellation: Events are being cancelled, primarily because the fear and risks are real, and it is always better to be safe than sorry! However, the silver lining is events still need to take place, especially in the corporate world. New products and services still need to be announced and launched, Comic Con needs to take place to announce new movies and television shows, and to keep the fans hooked.

A royal wedding event in times before Covid-19

Opportunity: While events like “grand weddings” might be a thing of the past, at least for the immediate future, the opportunity still exists to plan for a classy, intimate, and yet a memorable wedding. After all, the wedding day will always be one of the most important days in a couple’s married life, and couples still need to get married (life doesn’t come to a halt because of COVID-19) and make their day special. A grand wedding reception can always be planned for when things return back to normal, until then, recordings of the wedding can be shared with extended friends and family. Planning for an intimate, yet memorable wedding can challenge the creativity of an event planner, but in this case, it is the challenge to overcome.

Technology: That was on the personal side of things. I believe it is a lot simpler on the corporate side. Technology has made it a lot easier to plan corporate events and products launches. Earlier this month, Samsung had their Galaxy Unpacked August 2020 event, and unlike previous years, their entire audience – from the media, to reviewers, to creators – joined them virtually. Also, most of the product launches looked like they were pre-recorded and professionally edited (I felt it gave it a more completed look overall, polishing out the rough edges that were visible in previous years).

A similar strategy was adopted in this year’s Democratic National Convention, in the United States of America. Apart from the day’s presenters, most of the key speakers, spoke from their home through pre-recorded messages for the nation. Only the candidates, whose acceptance speeches had to be live, addressed a greatly reduced live audience. And even here the event was planned in such a way that it tried to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures – like having the live audience being seated 6 feet apart and wearing a mask.

Democratic National Convention 2020

Events similar to Comic Con have adopted a similar strategy to Samsung, having invited their audience to participate online, hosting pre-recorded interviews of creators, developers, and stars that the audience can view. While at the same time, having interactive sessions through video conferencing/streaming with live chat options with the stars and creators of new shows.

Staffing and Salaries: With the cancellation of events comes loss of business and revenue, and by extension (maybe) downsizing and layoffs. Because, lets face it, if companies don’t earn, they can’t pay. For those that have not been affected by downsizing, the beautiful thing about being an event management professional is the ability to work from anywhere, at least most of the time. All that is needed is your mobile phone and your laptop (and something, or someone, to occupy the kids).

Training and Planning: For the bigger event management firms that have a large clientele, this time is a great opportunity to train their staff and plan for the future. All events take time to plan and having the right vendors in place with an optimised supply chain will go a long way in bring down costs and the turnaround time in executing a successful event. Because once things go back to normal, I have a feeling that there will be a rush of back to back events, to make up for lost opportunities.

RKC's residency event - before and after Covid-19
RKC’s residency event – before and after Covid-19

If you are interested in learning and being better prepared for the opportunities in event management, Robert Kennedy College through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK, offers a 100% Online MSc in International Events Management to better prepare you for the challenges to come.

You can chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.

Women in RKC – Manal Al-Khaled – MA Leading Innovation and Change graduate

This week in our Women Day series, we have another special lady with us with her unique story through her Masters with Robert Kennedy College.  

Manal Al-Khaled is a graduate of the MA in Leading Innovation and Change (MALIC) programme, York St John University, UK. This programme was revamped and is now offered 100% online as MBA programme in Leading Innovation and Change.  

Manal Al-Khaled

Who is …

A short profile: 

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Who are you, really? 

Manal Al-Khaled (MA): A mother, wife, daughter, a traveller, a reader and above all a woman !  

I grew up in a multicultural and multi-religious family; an Arab father and a Russian mother is a combination that gave me a wider cultural exposure at an early age. Growing up in the Middle East has enriched my knowledge of how great my desire was to not only be successful but “a successful woman”. I didn’t have much choice but to be educated and successful. I studied in Switzerland to obtain a Higher Swiss Diploma and a BA from the United Kingdom.  

With experience in the hospitality field, training and education, and international development in different parts of the world from Cyprus, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Jordan and Bahrain, it wasn’t long before I realized I needed to do further self-development. I decided to do a Masters degree which I successfully completed at York St John University, MA in Leading Innovation and Change.  

I currently live and work in Canada, where I work as a project manager in a non-profit organization in the Toronto area.  

Getting back into education 

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree 

VK: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you?

MA: In 2013, my daughters were only 4 and 5 years old when my husband lost his job due to political unrest in the region (Middle East). There was never a right time to do my Master’s degree. There were other financial priorities always and with 2 little kids and a full-time job, time was a luxury, that I didn’t have much of it or under my control. I kept postponing it for all the reasons in the world. Then it hit me, it’s now, no matter what. My father was my supporter all the way who believes education is the best time and money investment. No matter what life brings, with the proper education, not only people but nations rise. That was my turning point, I started my first module in January 2014.  

Today, I truly believe it was the best time investment I have made in a very long time. It was a rocky road indeed with some bumps. But in addition to family support, the instructors within the program were not only great academics but wonderful people that offered support where they could.  

VK: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

MA: There were many challenges, in my decision, and during the program. It was the time when my husband lost his job, so certainly, financially it was way far down the list as a priority. With two tiny kids, having sleepless nights and being needed as a mom at all times was also a struggle. Being a full-time employee working 9:00 am-5:00 pm added to this struggle. 

I learned to spend quality time with my children, and my evenings that went into reading a book or watching my favourite shows and movies, switched to reading the module related material, participating in class discussions and working on my assignments.  

I thought waking up every day at 6:00 am was early enough, but I have developed a habit of waking up at 4:00 am to catch up on my work and it eventually became the most productive time of my day.  

I believe the less options we have, the more determined we are to succeed. I didn’t allow myself to think of failure, I kept thinking of ways to succeed. We sometimes forget down the road the main reason why we did things. We don’t just join a Master’s degree programme for nothing. There’s always a reason. We just need to remind ourselves why we wanted it.  

VK: What surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

MA: A couple of things truly fascinated me when I first started. First, the high level of program delivery that is actually possible online; the whole concept was very new to me then. Access to libraries, articles, books and journals was amazing. Also, contacting classmates for any module helped share ideas and thoughts. Wonderful platform to have access to.  

The academic profiles of the instructors were jaw-dropping. Successful people with good knowledge of various industries made theory and practical gap way smaller than many might assume.  

 VK: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

Absolutely. No matter where you come from, women are still fighting to get equal rights in hiring, in wages and many others. Women, in many parts of the world, are still struggling in balancing between what they want to achieve and what is expected from them by society. Going back into education is challenging after starting a career path or starting a family and/or having kids. After living in many parts of the world, I came to realize that women are challenged everywhere not only in certain parts of the world. In the most progressed countries, women are still fighting for equality on different levels.  

Put all that together, going back to education is not always an easy path to choose, but in my opinion, it is certainly the right path.   

Manal works as a
project manager in a
non-profit organization in the Toronto area.

Getting the degree 

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently 

VK: Which programme did you do? Why? 

MA: I did MA in Leading Innovation and Change. I could not resist the program’s title and description. Being a woman who thrived to lead, to find new ways and to change, that was a dream come true. We all need change, we all ask for change, and yet, many are scared of change. The program gave me answers professionally and personally.  

VK: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

MA: The more you learn, the more you realize you want to learn more!  

VK: How did you balance work and studies? 

MA: In fact, it was work, studies, and family balance. Only through time management. I wish there was a magical method, but there isn’t. Time management and being efficient in using that time. As silly as it sounds, we get dragged sometimes in doing things for a long time that aren’t necessarily productive. I am old fashioned until today with my tasks, I always have a notebook with my tasks to complete for the day and they need to be ticked by the end of the day.  

VK: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

MA: I believe that studying online has similar challenges for everyone but being a woman sometimes may add to those challenges with extra challenges to face in daily life.  

Life post degree 

What changed, if anything? 

VK: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

MA: Absolutely! Having a master’s degree has placed me on a more senior and managerial level in my career path.  

VK: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

MA: This question is being answered during the COVID-19 shutdowns worldwide and organizations shifting to working from home. I had to be part of a major organizational change from delivering service to clients face to face without having the option of working from home, to an organization that shifted all services delivered to clients to online and everyone is working from home. Being part of the management team and leading my team through that change successfully and smoothly was mainly about my knowledge gained in the program on how to lead and implement change in an organization and its impact on both the organization and individuals.  

VK: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the workplace? 

MA: Yes. Professional development is essential in any career growth. Doing it online at your own time and pace allows a wider range of individuals to be part of this development. This will allow more females to enrol in various programs to develop their skills and advance in their careers and they will compete professionally with other colleagues based on their knowledge rather than gender.  

Advice for other women 

Or other students, really. 

VK: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

MA: Use time efficiently, do not get distracted. Focus on what you want and make it happen. Always remember, success feels good and make this your motivation 

VK: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

MA: A good lumbar support office chair. 

Closing thoughts 

VK: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

MA: Women in history have succeeded in everything from raising families to leading armies. There’s still a large gender gap in women’s roles in decision making and leadership. Women sometimes need to work harder to reach those positions. Education is a great tool for success. Follow your dreams and make them happen.  

How about that! A good lumbar support office chair – that sure is one original suggestion, Manal! Manal’s advice to buckle up and be prepared for the challenges of the Master’s programme should be taken to heart.  

Do you see yourself going through this wonderful journey? Share your thoughts with us, what motivated you or what stops you from enrolling in your dream Masters programme in the comments below. 

The Internet of Things – Wooohhaat?

The first time I heard the phrase “The Internet of Things (IoT)” (and that was not too long ago), my reaction was – “Wooohhaat the hell is that?! Speak English man!”

Now, my understanding of IoT is still very limited, and when I decided to write a blog on one of the new programmes we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) launched through our exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria (UoC), UK – 100% Online MSc Computer Science and International Business, I was happy to find that one of the modules in the programme was IoT.

Now, what can one actually write about a management programme in Computer Science and International Business? I certainly couldn’t think of anything, apart from information about the programme, which can anyway be found on our website. So, I decided to get a better understanding of IoT and pass it on to all those in the same boat as I, or who may be looking to do this programme with us.  

What is the Internet of Things?

We live in a digital world and have reached a point where most anything in the digital space can basically talk to other “things” digital and share data – we can share data through networking between our communication devices, between multiple and different apps and software. But until quite recently, this sharing was not possible in the physical world.

But now, technology has advanced to the point where we are able to build a network of multiple physical objects, connect it to the internet, to send, receive, and interpret data. And this is the Internet of Things.

I know it sounds complicated, but nowadays, we actually see it in a number of places and don’t actually realise it, taking it for granted. I saw it work at the end of last year and was impressed but did not know what I was looking at. 

My family and I were on holiday in Abu Dhabi and were lucky enough to be staying at W Hotel, Yas Island, and got an upgrade to a suite. The entire room was connected. As an example, every item in the minibar was detected and listed as removed on a screen. Housekeeping restocked as soon as we were out of the room and it was billed automatically.

People who use Google Home, Apple Homekit, Amazon Alexa, or Philips Hue are already familiar with the technology. 

How does IoT actually work?

The working of IoT can basically be broken down into four sections:

  • Hardware – is what helps us connect digital items to physical objects. The hardware is what senses things and converts that to data. 
  • Data – is the information that the hardware collects. It is what will help us make sense of how everything is working, becoming the true universal language, the universal language of “things”.
  • Software – is what interprets all the information and enables the use of information. Software is what takes data from the hardware and extracts value for the end user. 
  • Connectivity – without connectivity there is no IoT. 2g, 4g, 5g, wi-fi, Bluetooth, without connectivity there is no exchange of data and IoT would have only remained a concept that some genius penned down. 

Is IoT practical?

The simple answer is – YES! This is not science fiction; it is already is daily use. It is cheap and easy to build – the hardware can be bought out of the box, the software is readily available (that is, for those of us too lazy or who don’t have the knowledge to make or create it on our own, but are good at marketing and selling). And finally, they are simple and easy to use, especially if you make it compatible with Google, Apple and Amazon. And because of cloud computing and networking, IoT can be done from anywhere, at a low cost, with minimal maintenance. 

In fact, most of us already use IoT today, from turning on our Philips Hue lights to a colour and brightness matching our mood, to automatically switching on or off our air conditioner and heating systems, to security systems that monitor our homes and alert us when there is an unauthorised entry. All this is done live, from the tips of our fingers, with your preferences backed up on the cloud and available across all systems.

The impact of IoT on industry

According to a McKinsey & Company report in 2017, the impact of IoT across industry will be approximately US$11 Trillion annually by the year 2025.

The impact on industry is already telling, especially in terms of cost savings. As an example, vertical farms, where the only human interaction needed is at the time of planting. Watering, trimming, and harvesting are all taken care of by IoT systems.

Another good example of IoT integration to reduce costs and increase profitability is the city of Barcelona, which was one of the first European cities to adapt smart city technologies. Simple implementation of parking sensors informing motorists of where parking spaces are available has increased the revenue generated from parking to over US$50 million per year. By having IoT systems in public lighting has enabled Barcelona city to reduce their energy costs by over US$37 million per year. And finally, their smart gardens have saved them US$58 million a year by just efficient water usage.

And as technology is always changing, the city of Barcelona has also incorporated these changes to have a direct and positive impact on the lives of its residents. The use of smart phones has enabled residents to receive instant alerts and updates from the city about employment, housing, administration, mobility, health services, security and utilities. 

A recent study (2018) of McKinsey: Smart Cities: Digital solutions for a more livable future distinguished 55 applications within the fields shown below. According to this study, these applications are capable to improve quality of live by 10 – 30%.

Now for the cons of IoT

The “force” cannot exist without the “dark side” (Star Wars reference), and now that we have ranted and raved about how wonderful IoT is, here are a couple of its more obvious drawbacks. 

The biggest and most obvious disadvantage of IoT is data security and privacy. As mentioned earlier, creating an IoT device is not too difficult or expensive to make, and in their rush to become the first mover and trendsetter, most manufacturers tend to overlook the security aspect of IoT. Keep in mind, in most cases, you will have to enter your personal information, and in some cases, even your credit card information to effectively use your IoT enable devices. Now, these devices usually work in a network and are on the cloud, so if there isn’t firewalls and security, your privacy and data can be at risk. 

Another unexpected drawback, if you can even consider it that, as it is caused due to the increase in efficiency due to implementation of IoT, is to increase in the short-term unemployment. With the increase in efficiency, the workforce required to do a particular job will be streamlined. While this has the positive impact of reducing costs and the turnaround time to job completion, it also has the unintended consequences of leaving a large percentage of the workforce either unemployed or having to be retrained in a new job skill.

A good example of the massive impact IoT is having on the retail industry is Amazon Go. The evolution of how everything from merchandising and stocking, supply chain management, human resources, and billing, in the retail industry is just amazing to see.


Finally, the importance and potential future impact of IoT cannot be understated, especially in the era of social distancing. The judicious and responsible implementation of IoT will free up humanity to do what we do best – create, innovate, learn, socialise and moving on to the next “big thing”. Which is why IoT, as a study module, is integral to a number of programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes offered, application process, and for more information on any discounts we might be running in this rather strange period of our lives.