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Strathclyde Business School Strathclyde Business School

A Masters Challenge: developing leadership skills

By Mira Wengermeier - Posted on 29 March 2018

Mira Wengermeier, a student on the MSc Project Management and Innovation programme, talks about one of its key elements, the Cumbrae Challenge, and what she got out of it.

Taking part in the Cumbrae Challenge this academic year has been one of the highlights of the programme so far. As part of the Professional Management Practice class, we got the opportunity to take on this challenge to develop and strengthen our team working and leadership skills.

Before we started the challenge, we were all very excited as we only had a few bits of information about the overall trip. We knew we’d be taking part in group working exercises, driving RIB boats and going on a night walk.

We didn’t know what to expect on the isle and what kind of challenge we were going to undertake. We just knew that it involved boats. Part of what made the experience so exciting was actually the uncertainty.

When we got there we found out we would be driving inflatable speed boats and collecting as many buoys as possible in a limited time. Each buoy and manoeuvre had specific points attached to them and the team with the most points was the winner. The first part of the challenge was to design the route and collect the navigation data as well as distribute team roles such as driver, navigator and watcher and these roles rotated during the challenge.

This part of the Challenge really helped our leadership and communication skills. As navigator, you had to lead the team in the right direction as well as communicate very clearly to the driver so that he or she would understand the instructions. As watcher, it was also very important to communicate clearly when other boats on the water came close.

Another element of the challenge was the night walk. This involved us hiking on the nearest mountain at night. Starting from our accommodation we walked for about an hour to the top and had a great view over the isle lit up at night. Some students were exhausted after a long day and the journey to Cumbrae, so the night walk was quite challenging for some.

As a team however we encouraged each other to keep walking and it was an amazing feeling when we managed to reach the top of the mountain. I think everybody learned a lot about team working within this exercise. We also learned that leadership is not only up to one person, it can also be established within a team.

There were more team activities and, as with the boating and hiking, they were all designed to get us working together.

I would definitely recommend the Cumbrae Challenge. The two days were exhausting but at the same time the best two days in Scotland since my Masters started. The first time out on the water was stunning, but then driving the boats by ourselves was even more mind blowing. Spending two days on an island, accomplishing challenges and going for a night walk was a great bonding experience for all students.

The best thing to do is go there without any expectations and be free and open to whatever is put in front of you. It is amazing how much you can learn outside of the class room. It really makes a difference and you will always remember that experience. My tip would be, be open, be curious and let this trip surprise you.

I have really enjoyed the programme so far. Even though I think the Project Management and Innovation programme contains a lot of general business classes, you learn a lot. What’s more, both the university and Glasgow are so welcoming and open, you will easily find new contacts and quickly feel at home. I’ve been enjoying university life - joining societies; sports club; hearing guest lecturers – and making new contacts – both making friends and expanding my business network of contacts.

This year I’ve enjoyed several guest lectures, including Simon Erlanger from Isle of Harris Distillers who talked about the social purpose of businesses and how you can be profitable with a social business, and Alan Mahon from Brewgooder who gave an inspirational talk about how you can combine traditional business concepts and combine them with social purposes.



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