As part of the AMBA accredited MBA at Westminster University, we are required to complete an international study trip to experience how business is conducted in different countries, with different cultural approaches to leadership.
We arrived in Uzbekistan not knowing what to expect and after two intense days of sightseeing we settled into the impressive facilities of Westminster International University in Tashkent. Before meeting our clients, we took part in a session about perceptions and how each of us would likely view the days to follow differently. From past experience I’ve learnt to avoid assumptions and try to, as far as possible, remain objective when experiencing new situations. However, this was a good opportunity to review and discuss our preconceptions about what director attributes we expected to encounter when meeting our clients and use this as a tool for reflection throughout the process.
We met senior leadership representatives from Anglesey Food, Murad Buildings and CLICK. I was excited to be appointed the CEO of a group of six MBA consultants working as the shadow advisory board for CLICK; a technology company who developed a popular digital payment app used across Uzbekistan. My first impression of the director attributes displayed in all three companies was that they were highly entrepreneurial and innovative in their approach to doing business. They all had a strong strategic vision for how they would take their business forward but we identified potential areas for growth and development in terms of stewardship and corporate governance. Murad Buildings faced challen
ges in recruiting experienced professionals due to a lack of established recruitment channels other than word of mouth and social media, which is mainly used by new graduates. As there are no formal HR qualifications offered yet in Uzbekistan, we identified the potential to develop their in house capabilities to improve their recruitment procedures. After a productive meeting with CLICK, we were able to further drill down and identify three primary areas for development which included; organisational structure, corporate governance and internal communications, which we recommended they address before growing the company further.
During this process I learnt a lot about myself as a leader in that I don’t need to embody all 10 director attributes to be an effective facilitator and consultant. I saw real value in the process of collaboration between myself, my team and CLICK, in that we were all able to contribute ideas from different perspectives, bringing a variety of skills and life experiences to the project, which ultimately lead to a positive outcome for our client and strong potential to continue our relationship in future.
During the twelve years I spent working as a secondary school teacher, my aim was to always support my students in arriving at the answer themselves through targeted questioning and positive reinforcement. Throughout this experience I realised that my style of leadership and consultancy is very much the same. However, I recognised that I am typically more patient with young people and at times I found myself hurrying my team along in order to stick to the tight deadline. During a conversation with a much respected leader, he told me that he always allows others to own their ideas even if he has already thought of it himself, which really resonated with me and will be something I remember to practice in future.
Leaving Uzbekistan broke my heart, not only was it an invaluable learning experience but also an amazing opportunity to visit a country I would not have ordinarily thought of going to. The people we met, the delicious food, the generosity and first rate hospitality shown to us was beyond any of our expectations. For many of us our perceptions of Uzbekistan before we arrived were proved to be wrong and we all left feeling very positive about the whole experience. Thank you to everyone in Tashkent who made our stay so memorable and special. I will defiantly be back!
Thank you to Janine for writing this blog for us and for giving us an insightful look into the exciting MBA program! Janine grew up in South Africa and has been living in the UK for the past 13 years. She is an advocate for life long learning with 3 degrees under her belt already. After dedicating 12 years of her life to teaching, she is excited to be embarking on her MBA journey.