Even the run up to Module 2 was of monstrous proportion, as a team we had 3 different group projects for 3 different subjects to complete, all whilst being located in different parts of the country and having only met during the first module. Cue twice weekly virtual meetings, some of which took far longer than they should have. On reflection, this was most likely because we were/are still in the forming stage of our team and were thrown into having to work together without understanding each of our preferred working styles or roles.

One of the things I was most looking forward to going into this module was seeing my Learning Team again, the ‘Supreme Seven’ as we now refer to ourselves thanks to our WhatsApp Group name (we are team 7 within our stream and not forming a new Motown group I’m afraid, although after a few drinks who knows what will happen). I met my team in the bar of one of the hotels on campus on the Wednesday evening and was greeted by a series of hugs, a bit different to the awkward handshakes we’d shared a month earlier. Although we were meeting to discuss our marketing presentation, it was a great way to kick of the module, in a relaxed and informal setting.

I initially thought the timing of this group assignment (contributing to half of our Strategic Marketing mark) was too soon however it forced us to collaborate as a team much quicker than I’d anticipated and helped us to determine some of our capabilities, skills and knowledge. This was a brilliant learning experience and when reviewing what we could do differently next time, we could identify ways in which we can work more coherently as a team. We are going to explore this further as our next group assignment is due in early December, this could be a good opportunity to practice a couple of the operating models we were taught, after all it’s all about the people and continuous improvement.

You may be questioning the use of the word ‘monster’ in the title of my article, this does have significance as for our marketing assignment we were tasked with identifying an organisation which has had strategic marketing success and my team chose ‘Monster Energy Drinks’. If I’m honest I was a little sceptical when this company was first suggested, purely because of my perception of them, a provider of high caffeine, high sugar energy drinks in oversized cans. After analysing and researching the organisation, through the use of various marketing tools introduced to us we were able to analyse just how their marketing strategy had made ‘Monster Beverage Corporation’ into one of the most profitable organisations in the US in 2018 and has enabled impressive year on year growth. My perception is shifting and what surprised me most about this organisation is the admirable way they sponsor rising sports star, giving those who ultimately wouldn’t be able to pursue their dream the opportunity to do so.

Together with the rest of ‘Green Stream’ we delivered our presentation on the Friday morning, all teams chose really interesting companies, with some supplying us with baked goods and chocolate (I definitely ate the majority of my team’s share of the‘Hotel Chocolat’ samples). We too had samples to hand out, we provided shot cups which created some excitement in the room as our stream thought they might be getting a late morning tipple. However as soon as our presentation appeared on the screen and they saw the iconic monster claw, disappointment washed over them. I also never realised before how much the drink smells, which was evident when we walked back into the room after lunch. It really is a product that stimulates all 5 senses, even touch, as several of their cans are textured.

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Another assignment we were tasked with was producing a video of SCRUM, the operation model and not the rugby set piece where my mind initially drifted to (many of my peers were extremely relieved when our operations lecturer asked at the start of our Saturday morning lecture to let him know when England scored (this was the semi-final I may add)). With this not being marked, we decided to split our resources with the majority of the team working on our marketing assignment (thanks for the tip @grahambell). We used the bedtime routine of children to demonstrate SCRUM in action, with the conclusion involving the Product Owner (Mum) and SCRUM Master (Dad) enjoying a well-deserved glass of wine and bottle of beer once the tasks were completed. I can’t imagine where we got our inspiration from, a purely fictional situation of course.

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A highlight of this module was the Operations Simulation, we completed a first run having prepped for it on the Thursday evening whilst enjoying the benefits of Monster to keep up our energy levels (up until then I had never tried the drink, so I needed to make sure I could relate to the brand). We reviewed the simulation and together with another team were able to identify how we could improve the process by analysing it using one of the many Operations models, helping us to reduce bottlenecks, improve quality and increase efficiency. It did get a little stressful especially during the ‘coping zone’ and we did have to remind ourselves that we were having fun. Bringing the model to life really made it relatable for me.

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I am surprised to see how my learning is already impacting my job, making me look at processes and procedures differently and giving me the tools and motivation to want to improve them. I even experienced some staff having ‘rust out’ whilst in a restaurant with my family and in my head was also generating ways in which they could streamline their ordering system. I’m going to tell myself it’s a good thing that I’m making connections!

However, it’s not all roses I’m afraid, the hardest thing for me at the moment is finding a balance that works not just for me but for my family as well. My favourite phrase at the moment is ‘it will be fine’ which I’m finding myself saying more and more in lots of aspects of my life, surely if I say I enough times I may eventually convince myself it’s true.

A bit about me.

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Taking advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy, in September 2019 I started the Cranfield University Exec MBA and Level 7 Senior Leader Mastership alongside over 100 others. I made the decision to share my learning journey on LinkedIn to give an insight into what it is like to complete such an intense formal management course whilst raising a young family, working and running a household. A result of which has found me really enjoying writing. Juggling everything is hard, takes lots of organisation and I’m continuously improving processes. Annoyingly this is something I can’t be taught in a lecture room so I’m just going to have to figure it out on my own, well not completely as I have a great support network around me.

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