Sometimes, the fear of the unknown is more of a hindrance in achieving your end goal. Once you are past this fear and are well informed, it is just a matter of planning your path. Similar is the plight of students who want to study of online but face the fear of the unknown, such as : What is the best way to study online? Should you do an online programme? How to better manage time when learning online? And so on.
These are all questions that we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get regularly asked by students looking to join one of our online programmes. Undertaking to do an online master’s degree programme will be an additional commitment to your time and finances, and it is wise to get information beforehand.
Through this continuing series of blog posts, some of our past and current students have shared their experiences, thoughts and opinions and given their feedback on handling some of these choices and situations. Hopefully, this will help you to make an informed decision.
This time we have an alumnus from the University of Cumbria and Robert Kennedy College, MBA Leadership & Sustainability programme, Premprakash.
Which Uni are you studying with?
University of Cumbria
Which programme did you choose and why?
MBA Leadership & Sustainability
The Study Plan
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash.
How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? For example, how many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?
Minimum of six hours daily. I work better under pressure. The two modules that I enjoyed the most were IMS (Information Management) and Marketing Management. I did them together, and it turned out to be two distinctions! IMS Professor Radu was someone I really liked. His reply to the forums and interims was why I achieved high marks in IMS.
What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)
After midnight through to early mornings all week plus the weekends.
How much time did you devote to each assignment?
For the interim assignment I spent one week and, for final assessments about two weeks’ time. I completed my dissertation within the 6-month minimum period.
Travelling and Communication
How did travelling impact your ability to study?
The Online residency was a lifesaver as Covid19 disrupted travel to the UK.
How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?
The time difference did not pose any problems for me.
A typical day as a master’s student
What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?
Studying keeps me happy, focused, and desiring more knowledge.
Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.
Never give up!!!
A to the point and practical advice by our alumni. I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and provided that motivational boost to your academic plans..You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer and the application process.
The pandemic has changed the way the world operates. It is essential that we go remote in order to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the novel corona virus. Working remotely may have started as a necessity and an ongoing trend but has become the new normal and is here to stay! While many of us had long dreamt of being able to work remotely (at least for a couple of days in a week), now are working from home every day. #WFH (Work from Home) is the way of the future workplace.
The change has not only affected the corporate world, but the healthcare and education sectors alike. Clinics are now operating remotely with doctors taking online, rather than in-person consultations. Universities have moved their on-campus programmes to online programmes, with professors teaching classes and posting lectures online. Barring some essential service occupations or frontline jobs like emergency workers, retail stores, restaurants and hotels, banking, etc. (where not closed), everything else seems to have moved online.
Many corporates have realized that they actually don’t need workers to physically come to work. Jobs can be managed from home or from practically anywhere in the world. In last week’s blog, we saw how challenging it is to work from home and some useful tips on overcoming those challenges. Now imagine you are not only working from home, but also having to manage a team remotely as well! What a challenge! This has led to heightened responsibility and a greater role for the team leaders. Managers across industries are rapidly looking for new methods and techniques to manage their widely dispersed and distributed teams remotely.
In the wake of these new challenges, business leaders are required to be all the more creative, focus on new means of communication, and be more inclusive.
So, here are 5 ways that will help you, a new (or old) remote leader, manage your new remote team effectively:
1. Set clear objectives and expectations
Studies show that most workers are not clear of what is expected of them at work. When working remotely this will become even more difficult if not handled properly. In order to encourage maximum participation and engagement from the employees, set clear agendas, norms and expectations with your team. Come to a common consensus as a group so that each employee is comfortable with the goals of the team.
2. Communication is the Key
While working remotely, there is no such thing as over-communicating. It is rather “are you communicating enough”?! While in a normal office environment, a small miscommunication can cause trouble; imagine how haywire things can go when you are managing a team remotely. There are different teams cross functioning, with different perspectives that a leader has to handle at a time. Communicating constantly is an effective means to guide employees, and keeping them engaged and motivated.
3. Utilize various means of communication
Deriving from the above point, a leader needs to find effective means of communication. The pandemic has given us several alternate communication methods. Business leaders can adopt any of the many tools available like Microsoft Teams, video-conferring on Zoom, UberConference, more conventional Skype, texting, etc. A leader must determine when to use a video-conferencing tool to establish a more personalized conversation, or a quick audio-call or a buzz on Skype messenger for a quick follow up on the work status. This will also establish a norm for employees on how to interact and communicate effectively amongst themselves, and with the manager.
4. Hold daily and regular check-ins
Working remotely might be a new experience for many of your workers. It can be overwhelming for some of them to adjust to this whole new work culture, where the workers are separated from their peers and managers. They might need help and support, but unlike in a normal office environment where they could go knock on their boss’s door or lean on co-worker’s cubicle, employees may not be able to find such instant support or comfort while working remotely. It is therefore necessary for the team managers to have regular check-ins, and one-on-one conversations with their team members. It is all the more important for them to empathize with the situation and hear out what challenges or issues their staff are facing and suggest appropriate solutions.
5. Empowering your employees
While working remotely, everyone is their own manager (well at least at their homes, and unless kids are around!). The team leader must tread very carefully before entrusting more responsibilities to the members. The managers must learn to trust and empower their employees. Encouraging a trust-based culture has proven to have an increase in innovation, agility, employee engagement and job satisfaction.
Being an effective and innovative team leader is not everyone’s cup of tea and managing remotely comes with its own challenges. Keeping the above points in view, using the right tools with a high degree of emotional intelligence, and by adopting the best management practices, you can be an effective leader, and help your team thrive. For all the new remote managers, we trust that you’ve got this! Do share with us your own remote managing experience and challenges in the comments section below.
“Denmark based renewable energy provider, Ørsted, revamped their business model completely by being a fully renewable power provider. The company moved from being heavily coal intensive to using renewable sources to produce energy. Their carbon emissions have reduced by 83%.”
“Kering SA, the French firm that owns several consumer-facing brands like Gucci, Alexander McQueen, YSL sources 40% of its products from certified sustainable sources. Also, 60% of the company’s board is composed of women showcasing gender equality”.
“Neste, a Finnish company, has more than 50% of its investments into the development of renewable biofuels”.
“Lyft recently announced that all its rides will be carbon neutral.”
These are just a few examples of headlines showcasing corporate sustainability accomplishments. From sustainable food to sustainable energy, we look up to our leaders to lead towards a sustainable world.
What is sustainable leadership really? Let’s explore together!
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability can simply be defined as the ability to sustain (Sustain-Ability). The UN World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Environmental: Environmental sustainability is about the environmental impacts associated with business while ecological sustainability is about its impacts on biodiversity.
Social: Social sustainability deals with the social impacts of a business – how are people and communities affected, internally as well as externally?
Economic: Commercial and economic sustainability is a reflection of a company’s ability to carry on business and generate profit to sustain its viability.
All the above three interlocking aspects are intertwined with the regulatory sustainability aspect that requires organizations to comply with government regulations and law.
When translated to the business context, sustainability is increasingly being realized as the new normal. Businesses understand that they cannot just selfishly operate for profits. They use resources from society and nature, and therefore owe some responsibility towards society. The elements of the triple bottom line – People, Planet, and Profits, are inter-reliant. Society depends on the economy and the economy depends on the global ecosystem. The ultimate bottom line is the health of the eco-system.
The concept of corporate sustainability is still developing and is debatable. Sustainability should be understood as a concept that has been socially and politically constructed that reflects the interests and values of those involved like the business owners, social groups, and other institutions.
Sustainability is a wide-ranging concept with universal applicability. Businesses have always been about profitability at the expense of sustainability initiatives. While there is no denying the fact that most for-profit corporations run for maximizing return on investment for shareholders, the contribution of sustainability in enhancing or detracting bottom lines can no longer be ignored by businesses.
Sustainable Leadership embraces the triple bottom line concept and can be defined as the mindful actions and behaviours of the leaders that embrace a global worldview. It recognizes the connection between the planet and humanity and through personal and organizational choices creates positive environmental and social change.
Globalisation and increased awareness have led to increasing social pressure in society that is contributing to a shift in the type of leadership of corporations. And sustainable leadership is not only something that can make business operations sustainable and eco-friendly, it can also help a company’s bottom line. Society judges the decisions of CEOs and looks for innovative solutions from the world leaders.
Being sustainable is not merely a regulatory requirement for businesses to comply with. The corporations want to leverage their positions and increase profitability by supporting environmental and sustainability initiatives. Businesses want to look good and portray that they are not just about profits, but care about their impact on society, the environment, and the local community.
Principles of Sustainable Leadership
Global Benefit: Gone are the days when corporations could get away with environmental damages and gender inequalities. Societies and the environment benefit when CEOs and companies prioritize sustainable leadership because environment, society, and governance (ESG) are added to the bottom line. Being responsible and adopting sustainable leadership makes money!
Understanding and establishing the system interconnections: A sustainable leader is foresighted in recognising the inter-reliance and impact of the three P factors (People, Planet, and Profits) on each other.
Transform from within: It is critical that more leaders integrate sustainability in their business strategies and can shift the company culture in the process.
Protect the environment and society: Business leaders need to pay attention to the impact their businesses have on people and environment and minimise it.
Lead by example: The only way others will follow and adopt your initiatives is when you hold yourself responsible in the first place for adhering to those initiatives (to reduce waste and increase efficiency, etc.).
It is interesting to find what initiatives different corporations adopt to become global leaders in sustainability. Here are the top 10 sustainability leaders of 2019 according to the GlobeScan-SustainAbility Leaders Survey:
Here’s a great example of sustainable leadership:
Walmart’s Sustainability Project Gigaton.
Project Gigaton is a Walmart initiative to avoid one billion metric tons (one gigaton) of greenhouse gas emissions from the global value chain by 2030. This commitment is a cornerstone of Walmart’s approved Science-Based Target.
Through Project Gigaton, suppliers can take their sustainability efforts to the next level through goal setting to reduce emissions in their own operations and value chain. Since the program was introduced in 2017, over 1,000 Walmart suppliers have collectively reported more than 93 million metric tons towards the goal.
CDP recently awarded Walmart an A- grade in its most recent environmental scorecard ranking.
Despite the global corporations’ initiatives towards sustainability and adopting sustainable business practices, the progress has been far from satisfactory. A report published in 2019 at the United Nations by the United Nations Global Compact and the business consultancy Accenture finds that just 21% of CEOs believe business is playing a critical role in contributing to the global sustainability goals and that fewer than half are integrating sustainability into their business operations. The world requires more sustainability leaders.
Designed for tomorrow’s leader, our online MBA in Leadership and Sustainability creates distinctive managers with a unique leadership-oriented career opportunity. Calling future leaders who share a vision of a sustainable future!
As many of our readers are asking what makes our Online Master’s in Leading Innovation and Change stand out from the rest, I prepared a short video to explain the most important reasons for joining this programme offered in an exclusive partnership between Robert Kennedy College and the York St John University.
Perhaps you have already heard of the York St John MA Leading Innovation and Change (MALIC). One of your business contacts may be a MALIC, or perhaps you are one yourself. There are many MALICs out there – a network of more than 600 professionals who all have one thing in common – they have obtained their degree from York St John University, online. To be more precise, in a blended-learning delivery, with a one week residency in York or Zürich, by virtue of our exclusive partnership with YSJU.
Partnership agreement between YSJ and RKC continues
I am very excited to report that we expect an increase in the number of MALICs: true to their common mission, YSJ and RKC have recently met at the highest level in order to renew their commitment to deliver MALIC at a global level, reaching people all over the world and allowing them to study while continuing their (most often full-time) jobs. Professor Karen Stanton, Vice Chancellor of York St John University, and David Chesser, Chief Operating Officer, met with Prof David Costa, Dean of Robert Kennedy College, Stefano Costa, CFO, and Prof David Duffill, Deputy Dean, and officially signed the agreement.
With graduates in over 100 countries, MALIC is one of the largest global Master programmes, and we are very excited about being able to increase these numbers and thus do our little bit in improving the overall quality of leadership in the work place.
Reflection session during the September 2015 residency in York
Whether it is at one of our York or Zürich residencies, or at graduation in the most impressive York Minster, it is always humbling to meet our students in the flesh – CEOs, senior managers, junior managers, serial entrepreneurs, vice-presidents – and yet they all went back to school, with a deep desire to improve and learn. For that, hat off!
Sometimes I ask my students, when they start their first module, what made them join the programme. For many it was the desire to understand why projects fail, how to be a better leader, how to deal with a difficult boss, or simply because they never had the time to go to school before life took over! And one of the most rewarding experiences is to receive, every now and again, an email that talks about life after MALIC (although sometimes it is also about life during MALIC).
“One of my critical learning points was the MALIC program was instantly transferable and immediately relevant, the course has had a dramatic impact on how I operate within different cultures. My appreciation and awareness of how people respond, react and need empathetic leadership styles in varying cultures has been tremendous.” – Simon
“Besides being a farmer I teach in AICAT (Arava International Centre for Agricultural Training). We bring 700 agricultural students from the Asian countries over for a 10-month, hands-on experience. I teach Agro-economics and Agro-entrepreneurship and from day one of my studies [in MALIC] I began using my newly gained knowledge, such as Schein’s Cultural Understandings and Kotter’s Eight Stages of Leading Change. The best part of the online experience was the interaction with other students. Same books, same articles, same questions but such diverse answers and understandings from fellow students; culture galore on the RKC forums.” – Eyal
“My study at RKC has deepened my insight into the different antecedents of innovation and successful change that need to be strengthened in my work and working environment. It has boosted my concern for people. It has enabled me to respect others’ perspectives, even seek contrary or novel views and value the contributions people can make no matter what their status in the organisation.” – Pius
Don’t think it is all milk and honey though – studying online is challenging, albeit rewarding. You need strong time management skills and discipline, but with proper support achieving an academic degree while working is doable. You get support from us, as academics, and from our amazing StudentCare team, but we found that, perhaps most importantly, the best support comes from your peers, your colleagues who are experiencing the same challenges and conversations. Eyal and Pius, above, have met at the residency in York after taking a few classes online together, and I’ve never seen a bigger hug than these two big guys shared.
So, one might say we have done well so far – we will strive to do even better, and perhaps, who knows, if you are not a MALIC yourself, the time has come to become one! With a new, modular approach, in which you can build your programme in a module by module approach, there has never been a better time to learn! If you want to learn more about MALIC, have a look at our MALIC website and request a catalogue – our admissions team will also be happy to answer any questions you may have.