Your syndicate group is a core part of the experience on the Global Online MBA at Imperial, and essential to building a culture of community and collaboration on the online programme. In this article, we cover the basics of syndicate groups and get student input on syndicate group life.
What is a syndicate group?
“Students are put into groups of four to six people prior to their arrival for induction week,” Global Online MBA Programme Manager Anna Townsend says, “For the first year of the programme, all group project work for core modules is completed in syndicate groups, on projects ranging from marketing to economics. The groups collaborate to produce reports and presentations.”
Students are primarily grouped together based on time zones. In addition to that, we aim to get a good mix of employment background, experience, gender and nationality. “It was very diverse,” says Peace Ani, Global Online MBA alumnae, “I’ve worked predominantly in the financial sector and my network has been built through my work. There were medical doctors and people who work in the mining industry: it opens up your entire horizon to the different career paths out there.”
You’ll meet for the first time during induction, where you’ll work together on a number of activities designed to help you get to know each other and how you work together. Sessions from professional coaches at the Careers and Professional Development Service give syndicate groups the tools to handle group dynamics and the skills to make online networking a success.
What does syndicate group life look like?
Global Online MBA students presenting in syndicate groups. In January 2017, students worked in groups to present an innovation strategy for fictional company UniBREW as part of the Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Design module.
Technology is essential for your syndicate group to work. “My syndicate group would talk most days on What’sApp. Even though most of the group is overseas, you really get to spend a lot of time with your cohort,” says Ed Perryman, Global Online MBA alumnus.
Fellow Global Online MBA alumnus Harry Patel says, “When we were working together on the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Design module halfway through the programme, we used Google Hangout or Skype to talk every Sunday and Wednesday evening, even if it was just for half an hour.”
There’s a sense of community created by collaborating over technology. “Because of technology we don’t feel geographically apart. We use digital and social technologies to foster a community, such as Facebook, Slack and GoToMeeting,” says Asmar Atif, Global Online MBA Student Leader.
“How do you work on an MBA assignment with team members that are located in three different countries? You run three different screens. One for the assignment, one for the Excel spreadsheet and one for video conferencing. This is the reality of globalisation.” Sheikh Shahrir, Global Online MBA student (via @sheikh_shahrir/Instagram).
Syndicate groups provide a really valuable experience of business in a global market. “I’m based in London and I’ve worked with clients in Vietnam before. I also volunteer for an organisation in Canada,” Talia Hussain says, “The idea that your colleagues are going to be down the corridor – especially as you move into senior levels – is an outdated concept.”
“Being able to manage your work using technology like Skype, Google Docs or Google Hangouts is an incredibly useful and valuable experience,” she continues.
This includes the inevitable ups and downs. “Getting people on board to do something when you’re not sitting next to them can be a hugely challenging and emotional experience,” says Talia.
There’s a culture of collaboration and support. “We want to be the best online cohort ever,” says Asmar. “We take it in turns every month to present how we apply our learning to what we’re doing in our companies. The selflessness of the cohort is one of the core strengths of our community.”
And a huge sense of achievement at the end. “Being able to pull off project work in different time zones and countries was a huge achievement,” Talia says, “I’ve really enjoyed the peer aspect of the Global Online MBA. It’s been unexpected but amazing. I love my peers and our WhatsApp group is by turns helpful, informative and hilarious.”