Dreams do come true

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Gaurav Raina

  • Better late than never! Its been my honour to be a part of your learning experience. Thank you @dalty as it's been quite a journey 🙏🏼👏🏼🙌🏼 5 months ago

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Dreams do come true

Hello Everyone

I got the result yesterday and I’m pleased to say that my MBA voyage is officially over. However, I’m hoping that my journey of learning will continue as long as I breathe.

Not much to express apart from the thought that it feels good. I’m truly grateful to the universe for this great opportunity and am humbled by the magnanimity of perseverance.

I wish you the best in any endeavour which you may choose to pursue and thank everyone who has contributed to this result.

I will leave you with one of my favourite quote from Rumi, ‘Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion’.



At Last….

….said Morpheus upon meeting Neo in the movie, Matrix. It feels the same this very moment.

 I’m finding it hard to get to terms with a cherished desire nearing fruition. I’ve thought of this several times since the last three years and now I’m just about to submit this dissertation (aka management challenge). The last three long and arduous (yet intellectually stimulating) years have been filled with happiness, joy, laughter, rare occasions of ‘manly’ tears, fairly decent peaks, tricky troughs, new acquaintances, riveting conversations, getting to know about the inner resilience and adaptability of humans in the face of adversity and overcoming challenges which seemed insurmountable at the onset through collaboration and team work.

I suppose this note could go on; however there is beauty in brevity. Here’s to all those who believed in me and supported my journey within and outside the Henley HB 49 cohort. I wonder if I will ever be able to thank you enough. To sum up, I truly feel humbled by this endeavour. Good luck and may the odds always be in your favour. Best Wishes for today and the road ahead.




Henley Management Challenge (MC) – Status so far

Greetings Everyone

Apologies for the radio silence, however time in its finite value (and infinite wisdom) is always running out on me. Anyways here is a quick one on where I am at the moment:

Got the approval for the MC and a Supervisor has been assigned. Massive relief and I’m grateful for the approval of the topic. My boss has also kindly agreed to be my sponsor (Thank you!).

Inital research on the chosen topic is in progress, however studies with a fulltime job and magaging the MC can sometimes eclipse the challenge of conquering Olympus Mons! Anyways got to march ahead whenever the opportunity arises I suppose so here I am. I’ve had a meeting with our HR Business Partner who rightly wants to know about data confidentiality around the parts which are needed for the MC. I’m trying to dig into this to see what comes up. I’ve posted on the ARC MC Blog and am going through the MC Guide as well. Safe to say this is a work in progress and I’ve barely scratched the surface from an MC perspective. My supervisor seems lovely so I’m really looking forward to it.

Call it my background in Economics, however I prefer starting macro and then go micro so the overall structure as I understand it is

Overall word count = 15000 words (-10% / +20%)

1. Title Page
2. Executive Summary
3. Table of Contents
4. Introduction (2000 words)
5. Review of Current Thinking (3500-4000 words)
6. Investigation (7500-8000 words)
7. Reflection (1000 words)
8. Reference List
9. Appendices

Thats about it for now, and until then please do share your ongoing MC/Dissertation stories when you get a chance.

Good Luck


Reputation & Responsibility – Some Thoughts

It truly is hard work it is to achieve work life balance (or try to atleast) whilst doing the MBA. Its been extremely challenging to keep all the plates spinning as it were and there is still the management challenge proposal deadline looming, Good Lord, sos!

In addition to the previous blog post around R&R (link below) here are some thoughts around the adapted approach.


As a reminder, here is the % split as mentioned in the R&R Workshop.

Part-1 (A) (Mapping the Situation) 10%
Part-2 (B) (Exploring Vision & Values) 15%
Part-3 (C) (Engaging with Stakeholders) 15%
Part-4 (D) (Measuring & Managing Reputation) 25%
Part-5 (E) (Embedding Corporate Responsibility) 10%
Part-6 (F) (Linking Reputation & Responsibility to Strategy) 25%
Part-1 (A) (Mapping the Situation)

Prevailing context, current state of play, intro, rationale.

What does the organisation stand for? What does it want to achieve?

Part-2 (B) (Exploring Vision & Values)

Values as a criteria (standards against which we judge the behaviour of self and others)

Schwartz’s Value Dimensions

Schein’s Iceberg Model of Organisational Culture

Part-3 (C) (Engaging with Stakeholders)

Show and highlight the main stakeholders (the ones you are exploring), Identity, engage which and research relevant stakeholder groups, explore perceptions of key stakeholders and identify the key drivers and outcomes in relationships between organisation and its stakeholders.

Stakeholder Identification, Mapping and Engagement Models (Mitchell, Agle & Wood, 1997)

How does your issue relate to the stakeholder perceptions of the corporate responsibility of the organisation?

Represent an authentic account of experience, perceptions or behaviours from actual stakeholders

What do the stakeholders feel and think? Which stakeholder group has a legitimate claim (Direct or Indirect Stakeholders?)

Stakeholders need to be specific/focussed

Who are the stakeholders involved? Can you engage them?

Why are you focussing on these stakeholders? Are the stakeholders time sensitive?

Identifying what are key stakeholder experiences, perceptions and behaviours in relation to the theme or issue at hand

Part-4 (D) (Measuring & Managing Reputation)

Data info gathering / analysis to make it tangible and measurable

Data: Interview 8-10 people

Models of Reputation Measurement / Management

Corporate Character Scale (Davies et al, 2004)

RELATE Framework

The RepTrak Model

You can choose one or two from above.

Part-5 (E) (Embedding Corporate Responsibility)

Pyramid of Corporate Responsibility (Carroll, 1979: 1991)

Corporate Responsibility in a different organisational context

Reduce reputational risk in consumer markets and employee relationships for recruitment, retention and commitment.

Part-6 (F) (Linking Reputation & Responsibility to Strategy)

Strategic recommendations (Implementable/Tangible)

Explain the rationale for the proposed way forward

Integrating ideas and approaches leading to a strategic set of actions

Conclusion: What have you learnt? What can the company do?

Reputation & Responsibility – Some Notes on Assignment from the Workshop

Greetings to all of you and I hope all is well.

Right then moving on to the business end, here are some notes I made during the workshop on the assignment. For those of you reading this in HB-49 intake in Henley, please feel free to suggest any edits as and when necessary. I tried my best to capture as much as I could whilst the legendary Carola Hillenbrand was imparting her R&R wisdom with us.

Touch on both Reputation & Responsibility

Explore internally first / this assignment requires a current or a future problem

What does the organisation stand for? What does it want to achieve? What do the stakeholders feel and think?

Limit the stakeholders to 1 or 2 / Stakeholders need to be specific, focussed / Who are the stakeholders? / Can you engage them?

Your assignment needs to be tangible and measurable

Don’t write the assignment (or narrative) from your perspective / Don’t write an abstract / vague narrative or just theory in your assignment. Reputation project is how others feel and what lies in the eye of the beholder.

Keep it manageable (Mapping the situation / Reputation process is explicit)

Who are you focussing on for the issue at hand?

Do atleast 1 Reputation Model; Reflect on with whom, for what purpose, for what outcome, what cause, outcome behaviours.

What drives the perceptions, emotions, behaviours?

This can be strategic once you decide what needs to be changes

Data Analysis: 8-10 people internally / Massive data is not needed.

Assignment % split

Since the R&R assignment does not show a specific word count allocation (other than 3500 word +20% / -10% limit), here is what Carola suggested:

Mapping the Situation: 10%

Exploring Vision & Values: 15%

Engaging with Stakeholders: 15%

Measuring & Managing Reputation: 25%

Embedding Corporate Responsibility: 10%

Linking Reputation & Responsibility to Strategy: 25%



Reputation & Responsibility – Process Model of Driving Value

Hello All

Happy (belated!) New Year to you all.

I recollect one of my teachers in the good old school days saying ‘time flies’, I didn’t ponder much about it back then, however it does make sense in the context of the Masters course as the last 27-28 months have gone by pretty quickly!

Tomorrow is the start of another Workshop in Henley, Reputation & Responsibility (R&R) is what its called. Based on the brief initial reading done so far, the whole module seems to revolve around the Process Model of Driving Value through Management of Reputation and Corporate Responsibility (Adapted from Mirvis et al, 2009) and below is an attempt to draw it (in my own hard to read handwriting!).


Here is the Harvard style reference

Mirvis, P H, Googins, B, Carapinha, R et al (2009) Building reputation here, there and everywhere. Worldwide views on local impact of corporate responsibility. Learning, Practice, Results. In Good Company. [Accessed 14 Jun 2011]

Its still early days for the R&R module however as with the rest of the course so far, I look forward to knowing more in my ongoing pursuit of learning as much as I can manage. My regards to all of you and hope 2015 is your year and in true spirit of the Hunger Games, ‘may the odds be ever in your favour’ 🙂

Buona Fortuna




Leadership and Change Assignment – Pre-submission Thoughts

Seasons Greetings to you all

The third (and final!) year of our current MBA program in Henley begins with an assignment for Leadership and Change (LC) and it sure does make a good reading. Here is a mind-map of what I was able to relate to during the reading/writing/prep of the assignment and the core module. In case you have some trouble reading my handwriting then don’t worry as sometimes even I find it hard to read mine! I will elaborate a bit more below.

LC Submission

The assignment asks the cohort members to focus on a recent topic of change which has been concluded and to then explore ways and means to see if the change could have been approached / implemented differently. This allowed me to explore and come up with a spiritual perspective (high level overview) of how I see change in an organisation under the lens of reflective thinking.

I learnt about Level 5 Leadership (Jim Collins) during the reading and it refers to a Level 5 Leader displaying a combination of humility and fierce resolve which made me very interested towards it. In fact I’m also considering this as one of my potential topics for the dissertation later in the year. Now what form, other topic will this manifest in or under, I don’t know as this is work in progress.

Bennis (1989) nailed it when he mentioned Management is ‘Doing things right’ and the transition to Leadership is ‘Doing the right things’. This made me think of a potential hybrid style out there?. The Leadership styles (Goleman, 2001) explored the different leadership styles we may have experienced in the past and can relate to some degree, ranging from Coercive, Authoritative, Affliative, Democratic, Pace-Setting and Coaching’. The difference between ‘Incomplete Leadership’ and ‘Incompetent Leadership’ in ‘which they understand what they are good at and what they are not’ (Ancona, Malone, Orlikowski-Senge, 2007) blew my mind.

Finally one of the best frameworks as reading about the Change Kaleidoscope (Balogun & Hope Hailey, 2004) which explores the context that change depends on and the relating activities around it. It splits this into two Choices.

The first one is Contextual Choice which explores factors such as Time, Scope, Preservation, Diversity, Capability, and Readiness for Change and power. The second part explores the Design Choices such as Change Path, Change start-point, Change Style, Change Target, Change Levers, Change Roles.

Also, here are some references used in this post:

Balogun, J & Hope Hailey, V (2004) Exploring Strategic Change, 2nd ed. Prentice Hall/Financial Times

Bennis, Warren. 1989. On Becoming a Leader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc.

Collins, Jim, C. (2001). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t. New York: Harper Business.

Goleman, D (2001) Primal leadership: the hidden driver of great performance. Harvard Business Review, 79 (11), 42–51

Referring text from a Blog:

Should you wish to use a part of this or any other blog in your assignment then here are some pointers and examples from the Harvard Citation Guide


Blog entry or post


Tom Szaky, ―Choosing Between Profits and Growth,‖ You’re the Boss (blog), New York

Times, August 25, 2011, http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/, accessed September 2011.

Comment on blog entry or post


barbara121, August 28, 2011 (9:43 a.m.), comment on Tom Szaky, ―Choosing Between Profits and Growth,‖ You’re the Boss (blog), New York Times, August 25, 2011, http://community.nytimes.com/comments/boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/choosing- between-profits-and-growth/, accessed September 2011.

Blog entry or post


Allan Metcalf, Some Rules Are Nice and Simple. But…,‖ Lingua Franca (blog),

Chronicle of Higher Education, August 26, 2011, http://chronicle.com/blogs/lingua franca/author/ametcalf/, accessed September 2011.

Comment on blog entry or post

2 QuiHai, August 31, 2011 (1:23 p.m.), comment on Allan Metcalf, ―Some Rules Are

Nice and Simple. But…,‖ Lingua Franca (blog), Chronicle of Higher Education, August

26, 2011, http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/08/26/some-rules-are-nice-and-

simple-but/#disqus_thread, accessed September 2011.

That’s it from me for now folks. My best wishes to you and your near/dear and hope your holidays ahead are spent in bliss.

Buona Fortuna


Some notes on Final Dissertation / Henley Management Challenge (MC)

Hello All

Here are some notes from Manager as an Investigator Workshop. From the onset this workshop was a lot more intense (especially after lunch) from what I thought it would be, talk about a pre-conceived notion! These notes are in no particular order and not exhaustive so if folks from Henley are reading this then please chime in with any suggestions/modifications/etc. Also due to the nature of this challenge, things may become obsolete for those of you who read it beyond 2014 so please use your judgement.


Intro: Context

Literature: Informative Study

Methodology: Fieldwork

Analysis: Theory, Practice, Conclusion


For Surveys the recommendation is to use 50-100 users and present them with a disclaimer of 4 questions in the survey (i.e. are you 18 and over, of sound mind, you can opt out of the survey, this is for MBA research etc.)

Anyone who answers the survey is a participant

Survey Monkey is usually preferred as the data can be exported to a spreadsheet to help analyse better.

Interview should involve atleast 15 people. The number of interviews should be = to the consent forms i.e. the person has agreed for share his/her feedback

All the results are confidential, Adapt the survey for an interview approach

Qualitative research, Survey can be adapted to an interview approach. Use existing questions wherever possible

3-4 people for the brainstorming (you can speak to Project Managers as well)

Compare and Contrast the ideas and ask probing questions.

What are the questions to guide your interview process?



It takes 12 weeks to assess the Management Challenge and the deadline for HB49 is 26Th Oct 2015. This can be extended to 31st March 2016 to make it to the graduation in Oct 2016.


Follow the advise/guidance given by your supervisor and listen to what they have to say. They are there to help you. Be nice to your supervisor (pretty obvious me thinks) and the proposal is around 1000-1500 words.

Word Count

The number of words ranges from 15,000-18,000. If your word count is nearing 20,000 then speak to your Supervisor and highlight this to their attention.


It is important for this to be interesting (for you to be interested!) and to start early, Demonstrate your knowledge of the issue. Are you articulating clearly enough? So Henley can understand your research question?, For potential topics do a SWOT for specific (not broad) descriptors. Also, start writing early.

Problem / Challenge / Opportunity: What are the drop dead issues? i.e. what are the issues you have to get right which is a critical factor and core driver for the MC. Start on the practice side? How do you find/define a problem?

Throw down all your ideas on paper and evaluate only when you can’t think of any more ideas. You will then engage with the problem and this will help you understand the issue.

Quality v/s Quantity / Your perspective v/s relationship of the problem

Do your groundwork in selecting the topic, Try not to do something too big or broad and even a small topic can expand.

Think about: What are you doing? / Why are you doing it? / Who are you doing it for?, Understand what you are trying to do and optimise your personal time

Plan well for your proposal as it helps you write better, What is out there which can help me understand my research context?

How did the literature help form your thinking? How did you refine your thinking after reading the literature?

You need to have a real interest in the topic, Choose it carefully and be interested in it yourself i.e. what are you doing and the reason for it.

Use the assessment criteria to guide you, Be clear about what, how, why and see what is feasible, have you thought about all the issues?

How has the topic helped you refine your thinking? (How is the theory helping you develop?)

The process I’ve been through to identify the topic, How do you find/define a problem?,  Consider critical areas of the literature

Don’t just describe the data/say what you think/show your findings, your implications, Drive the discussion analysis and key findings of the field work versus key findings of your literature,  Ask questions when you are doing your reading. Question your approach.

What Henley needs: Can you justify the argument of your approach? / Can you synthesise the info? / Can you make some sort of analysis? / Can you make meaningful discussions and conclusions based on your activity?

Review of Current Thinking

To demonstrate your learning, what is already out there underpinning your topic because its hard to find a topic which is novel so there is some available literature already out there. This is also about the review of the literature available.

Critical Areas of the Literature: What are the implications of what I’m reading / core of the Research Issue

How is my reading helping me understand what I’ve already learnt?

Testing our views with others, what is out there as a part of my current thinking to help me understand the topic from a different and external perspective?

How is theory helping you develop?, Look back to your previous thinking versus current thinking

Why are some proposals returned?

Proposal is too broad / not narrowed down / not clear about what you want to do

Some people are not clear around reading the literature (theory) and what will their field work involve and what they will do during the field work.


Don’t reference Wikipedia; however Wikipedia is useful to get started. This should not be less than 10. Demonstrate depth of understanding through the literature. Ideally you need 80-100 references and should read 10-15 journals. Capture key references carefully.

Quantitative v/s Qualitative Surveys / Research Philosophy

The more open you are the harder it is to do meaningful analysis. Think of where will you get the data from? In Henley refer to Emerald and OneSource. Think of relating one method to another to offer justification.

Quantitative Survey

Due to Experimental design, No Causation studies, No Generalisation, No interviews, Need a large enough sample. You don’t always need to have a hypothesis for Quantitative research.

Fixed Quantitative: Positivity, Generalisation, Research, Independence, Numbers, Research has no influence on how people answer the questions, static.

Qualitative Survey: Pragmatic approach, Interviews, Case Studies, Mixed methods

Flexible Quantitative:

Constructivism, Phemenonological, Depth of understanding, Observing (Ethnomethodology), How we feel and how others may feel? Researchers and Research are a part of the process, we decide what we are going to ask next, Flexible.


Research Process

The research is split into the heart and brain. Heart drives the literature (EBSCO in Henley) / Key words to limit your big topics. It helps explore the Research strategy/methodology. The Research Objectives (RO) help drive what you do/do not want to look at. Brain analyses the data.

IMG_0272 IMG_0273

Evidence in terms of MC

Your understanding in terms of management practice/expertise

Using Evidence in a better way to test the assumptions to come up with refined decisions, how can you use evidence to refine your thinking?

How can you use evidence to refine your thinking?, What are the key findings from your literature v/s your field work – are there any gaps?

Best Info/Best Theory, Literature is not just theory so what is your perspective and that of your stakeholders?

Take stakeholder perspective in terms of feedback using all the views to test the assumptions to help with the evidence/research

Using forms of Evidence in a systematic way and helping us understand a different way of viewing/thinking

Looking at a range of Evidence, Show evidence that you have looked widely, Demonstrate the grounding of accepted/not accepted views

Field Work Questions

Ask the question, why is this important to my research focus/objective?, How does this relate to my understanding of the practice?, How does this link to my Research Focus?, How does it related to the current thinking?

Ethics Form

Read the fine print on this

MC Proposal Structure

Current thinking in your topic/area

You should form an understanding on your research and question what/why are you doing?

What have you read to define your thinking?

Research Question & Objectives

Have a clear and easy to articulate research question to make sense of the research objectives.

Proposed design of the investigation

Overall strategy/design/justification/broad understanding of the strategy driven by your practical and theoretical approach (mixed methods)

If you are doing interviews/research, specify why you are doing this i.e. to supplement this.

Data Analysis

Think of Regression/Co-Relation in Excel. Excel has a data analysis pack (Add-in) with pre-loaded formulas

Specify what your sample size is in relationship to your question, how much is it, give an example of your sample and show how will you analyse your data.

Other Notes

Not all contexts may work for you/others, Recommendations need to be ‘actionable’ not ‘actioned’

The Empirical Investigation is your primary research; The Reflection is about your experience on your challenges, experience and learning

Share/Swap ideas and literature across the group and building on your learning aspects of your MBA material is building blocks and you need to go beyond the available reading. Pay attention to the formatting margins and refer to the online examples to get a feel for it

Confidential MC’s are called ‘Embargoed’ (Similar to some assignments using words like ‘Commercial in confidence’). Engage with the literature and find gaps within the practice, show literature within the practice (for intro of MC)

Literature/your approach can be viewed as Inductive, adductive, deductive, describe what you are doing pragmatically. The approach will range from Broad to Specific (visualise an inverted triangle i.e. broad on top and specific as you go deeper).


 As you can see we’ve got our work cut out for this year and this is me with a ‘what just happened’ look after the workshop 😉



Well to be somewhere in this pic!


Good luck to you all!



Year 2 – Check!

Got the year two results today and it’s a pass for all the three subjects. I’m well relieved and it’s a massive moment. The exam prep as always was pretty intense especially as it got year to the exam, however I think each one in the cohort collaborated very well, especially we managed to achieve positive synergy between the teams XT3 and Umoja.

I could not have done it without the team work and in particular Kishor Pillai. Dude you are a super star. Thank you to all my work colleagues, MBA cohort members and for those of you prepping for in Henley Year 1 Exam (No more Year 2 Exams after HB-49 I’m told), please never underestimate your exams and good luck to all of you for the road ahead.

Here’s wishing my entire cohort members a great final year ahead and I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead. Also made this graph with shows the visual representation of the Assignment v/s the Exam marks of Year 1 and 2. Good Luck to you all and may the force be with you.




The image below also shows some of the books which are a part of the official reading list in Henley for Year one and two, in addition to this there is the Core Module and Elective Pathway for each subject and lets not forget the additional research required for the assignments.

Books in Year 1 & 2

Buona Fortuna.


CFG High Level Mindmap

Found a small high level mindmap made whilst writing the assignment and thought of sharing it.

Apologies in advance for my bad handwriting 😉

IMG_3987[1] IMG_3988[1]


Graduation Day at Henley Business School

September 23rd, 2016
The big day is here.

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