The latest Executive MBA (Fashion) panel discussion focused on leadership and talent management, an increasingly popular topic as navigating the uncertain waters of 21st-century business management enters a global shift towards nationalism and trade barriers. The panel was made up of Christopher Raeburn, Simon Bowen, Sharon O’Connor, Marie Milligan and facilitator Keith Richardson.

EMBA panel at CMI discussing leadership and talent management.

Taking place at Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) Holborn office, the panel discussion was an opportunity for EMBA students to get an insightful perspective from leading industry professionals who are bracing themselves for Brexit and the consequences it may have on leadership and talent management.

A recent CMI Management report said UK productivity is 21% lower than the rest of the G7 and measures of management are similarly lower than those of many rivals. Time wasted by poor management could be costing the economy as much as £19bn a year.

Government data shows that the UK labour market will need one million new managers by 2020 – yet 71% of the leaders surveyed by CMI confessed they could do better at training first-time managers, or don’t train them at all. This could leave 150,000 employees a year taking on management roles without adequate preparation. Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. The panel discussed this issues and what other factors are contributing to the debate.

James Clark, Acting Course Leader, said after the event:

The discussion was lively and focused on the changing nature of business operations, emergent Millennial talent, and the differing requirements of creative leadership and management. The clear takeaway from the panellists was that the rigours of both leadership and management require careful thought by businesses of all sizes and that the role of Human Resources and developmental coaching play a vital part within this. Indeed, it was panellist Sharon O’Connor who noted that it was her HR director who was instrumental in supporting her vision as CEO of Oasis.

Sharon also noted that great management will hire a diverse team, sometimes this means not hiring the obvious candidate or applicant. The panel also asked what is the difference between a manager and a leader. They also prioritised managing business values and team values, debating whether both should be the same for a manager.

Christopher Raeburn

Christopher Raeburn at the EMBA panel discussion.

Christopher Raeburn noted from experience that good management will work across multiple different platforms. He said it is important to embrace technology and the digital revolution, but also stressed how important it is to value traditional methods. Christopher also explained the evolution of his brand and workspace. He felt the company didn’t fully take off until the team was together in an open space office, stressing the importance of interaction, discussion, and collaborations within the team.

Marie Milligan, Founder of Wild Women Do, talked about hiring and nurturing talent. Her company is a coaching resource and movement empowering creative, entrepreneurial women to live their lifestyle dreams and create a business that has a positive impact on the world. She is often hired to deliver strategic business consultancy for creative partnerships and business. She recalled how often she met brilliant creative directors who were terrible managers, perhaps because they made their way up the work hierarchy over time but have had little to no management training. Finding the balance is incredibly hard, perhaps even harder for UK industry if acquiring the talent from overseas comes under more scrutiny. All the panel agreed that finding the right person is often trial-and-error.

Simon Bowen, Director of Member Engagement at CMI, spoke about his experience in dealing with management and problem-solving with industry. He explained how the nature of leadership is a personal attribute, some people are more suited to business environments while others need investment. This is crucial during a time the Fashion industry is experiencing revolutionary change. Simon suggested a pro-active approach is needed to meet demand in the industry.

A networking session followed the panel discussion, giving students and industry experts the opportunity to meet and talk further about their ideas and concepts.

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