Most MBA employers take the analytical and problem solving skills as a given when they look at MBAs. They really do focus on the soft skills when they make hiring decisions.
Lindsay McQuade, Careers Director, Cass Business School
A large part of my working life has been taken up with training or being trained, and I throughly enjoy imparting skills, knowledge and information to others. It gets even better when, as so often happens, I learn something unexpected in return.
Having worked in corporate communications relating to medicine, science and technology, I was accepted on to the Sloan Masters Fellowship at London Business School. That year was transformational, opening doors to an enjoyable time as an internet entrepreneur and to senior corporate communications roles. But it was my Masters thesis which set me on the road to much of what I do now: while researching the viability of a new management education magazine in eastern Europe, it became clear that some people were much better at making and using connections than others. Finding out just what those people do so well, codifying that and helping impart those skills to others, is what my Sloan Fellow colleague Judith Perle and I have spent a lot of our working lives doing since through workshops and masterclasses in the inter-related fields of networking, negotiation and presentation.
During our time at London Business School, one of the key concepts on the Operations Management module was that of 'order qualifiers' versus 'order winners': the difference between the things that get you, your product or service on to the 'pitch list', and the ones that actually get you the business.
One problem is that corporates and business schools pride themselves on having or teaching the hard skills to get the job done, but so often these technical skills (creating a business plan, understanding IP, pricing a bond option) are actually only 'order qualifiers'. They get you through the door, but everyone else standing in line for the business can also demonstrate those same skills.
But the truth is that the 'order winner' is often the successful application of the 'soft', interpersonal skills that can get overlooked in the cut and thrust of corporate life. The quote at the top of this page makes exactly that point.
Since inception in 2001, Judith and I developed our training consultancy Management Advantage Ltd to the point where our client list had included eight of the top ten UK business schools (plus many others), well known corporates, and ‘third sector’ organisations including the Royal Household, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Prince’s Trust.
We've also had some great testimonials and some great reviews of our book 'The Network Effect', which is an easy-reading distillation of our 'take' on networking.
So here are the four strands of my training activity, each one of which has a page to itself. My own increasing focus on governance roles means that while I'm very happy to discuss offering a workshop, masterclass,speech or 'one on one' help, you're unlikely to find me actively 'pitching' my services as these days I much prefer a 'pull' to a 'push'.
As you'll see from the Research page, my interest in what makes people effective networkers led directly to my doctoral research at Durham University Business School which was awarded the 'Best Doctoral Thesis' prize and to the Newton Networking Inventory tool.
Effective Negotiation Skills - Having run this as a one day workshop for several years, Durham University Business School asked me to designed a three day Negotiation Skills module for their MBA programme, which I tutored for three years.
Effective Presentation Skills - Public speaking is a source of anxiety for many, and even those who do a lot of it don't necessarily do it well. Analysis of feedback from 195 of our half and full day training events revealed that 97% of participants thought the workshop worth their time and 96% would recommend it others- and you don't get that sort of score unless you can demonstrably keep an audience engaged.
'One on one' Coaching and Mentoring - There are times when 'one on one' sessions are the only way to go. I've written speeches for some high profile people and occasions, and helped with getting the delivery right. Wearing a slightly different hat, I'm also a media trainer for the Royal Air Force, so have a lot of experience helping people with interview and presentation preparation.