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Bringing operations management to life

We took the Operations Management module of our Executive MBA programme into the heart of a local business to give our students the opportunity to put theory into practice.

Recognising that our Executive MBA Programme attracts experienced practitioners from the business and professional service sectors, Dr Maneesh Kumar gave his 2017/18 cohort the opportunity to study away from the university.

Students were encouraged to take ownership of their learning experience by pitching the benefits of hosting an Executive MBA module within their organisations.

Out of the classroom and into the boardroom

A host organization in the centre of Wales’ capital was secured by Katie Feegan, a student representative and Head of HR at MotoNovo Finance in Cardiff.

She said: “Hosting the Operations Management module at my place of work was a great opportunity for a number of reasons. Firstly, giving my colleagues at MotoNovo the chance to have a fresh perspective on their challenges, and giving them the opportunity to participate in current Operations Management learning..."

“Secondly, we are very proud of our culture, brand and working environment at MotoNovo, and this was a great platform to share this with other leaders across different industries, and to elevate perceptions of who we are as a business.”

Katie Feegan, Head of HR at MotoNovo Finance

Over the course of five meetings Dr Kumar met with representatives from the vehicle finance company to outline a process for teaching within an organisation operating business as usual.

Paramount to these discussions was the issue of confidentiality. It was crucial from a commercial perspective that measures were taken to mitigate opportunities for breaches of data, market sensitive information and other content.

A non-disclosure agreement was put into place to ensure confidentiality did not become a barrier to the success of the programme.

Real-life operational dilemmas

A case study was developed in collaboration with the MotoNovo Executive Board. This challenge-led project reflected real-life dilemmas encountered within the financial service sector and engaged with the spectrum of business operations, including:

  • Operations strategy
  • Customer relationship management
  • Demand management and capacity planning
  • Lean thinking and Continuous improvement
  • Technological innovation
Maneesh delivering workshop

Students were divided into three groups based on their industrial background, technological expertise, and work experience. Each group were given an operational dilemma with a number of things to consider. They were asked to present solutions to the rest of the cohort and MotoNovo executives.

Through a series of group discussions and presentations, students tackled the case study across three days within the MotoNovo offices and came up with innovative solutions. Engaging with live data, information and statistics drawn from MotoNovo’s customer database, the cohort reflected on issues, solved problems and linked solutions as the task developed.

“Taking the Executive MBA into MotoNovo was all about bringing operations management to life. It’s very easy to deliver a teaching programme in a manufacturing setting, where the processes are often practicable and unfold in a visual way. One of the challenges for us was how to make a module more interesting, more engaging, in a service setting, where processes are not so easily visualised or demonstrable.”

Professor Maneesh Kumar Professor in Service Operations

Confidence, momentum and experience

Delivering the Operations Management module of our Executive MBA within the Cardiff Branch of MotoNovo Finance has resulted in benefits for a range of stakeholders.

For our Executive MBA students, it was an opportunity to respond to a challenge-based operations dilemma identified by a real business.

“The delivery of the module within the MotoNovo Offices was fantastic as it really gave us confidence in applying the techniques in practice.”

Michael Williams, Operations Manager at ACIEM Group

By taking management theory and putting it into practice the cohort made a real difference to business operations in a local company, all the while gathering the confidence, momentum and experience to influence their own career pathways.

For MotoNovo too, this collaborative opportunity resulted in the acquisition of a stockpile of free innovative solutions drawn from experience and underpinned by theory. Solutions that address the sector-specific challenges identified within the case study.

“The way in which the learning was constantly made relatable to the sectors that we all worked in, made it really clear to see how we could use the theory and skills at MotoNovo.”

Sian Tucker, Find and Fund My Car Manager at MotoNovo Finance

Public value teaching

Delegate paperwork

Reflecting on the whole process of preparation, delivery, and ensuring confidentiality, Dr Kumar added: “It’s worth putting in the extra effort to develop innovative teaching methods that enhance student experience on the Executive MBA programme.

“It allows students to participate in experiential learning, something that is central to our public value curriculum which seeks to instil in students a moral sentiment and sympathetic imagination towards the social and economic challenges of our time.

"We achieve this through an innovative, interdisciplinary and challenge-led curriculum.

“And of course, this type of work-based learning is also immensely beneficial for companies who get innovative solutions to their chronic problems.”

As an outward reaching Business School with public value at the heart of our operations, we hope what has started as an opportunity to challenge our students will yield opportunities for further collaboration.

Already, MotoNovo have sought our students for a graduate vacancy as a Pricing Analyst, three proposed MBA projects, one summer internship within their finance division and one Placement Year in their HR Team.

Discussions are also underway for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and other research-focused projects in the future.

For more information about our Executive MBA, contact:

Professor Maneesh Kumar

Professor Maneesh Kumar

Professor in Service Operations

+44 (0)29 2087 5276