The day everyone had been anticipating was finally here: the first official YFCD day! After a due diligence session where teams were introduced to Nottingham’s two-wheeled wonder Maywood Bicycles, they set out to prepare for a tough negotiation to buy the company. YFCD, for Your First [Hundred] Days, is one of the core threads running throughout [email protected] this year, and delivered by Director Adrian. It’s an immersive simulation designed for the MBAs, and throws the 5-person teams into the nitty-gritty of running Maywood through the highs and lows of fast-paced management. The 16 teams have formed close friendships and working dynamics, and Thursday was their first chance to put them to the test.
The day centred on three main scenarios, expertly role-played by the counselling team: dealing (without giving the game away) with the initial acquisition, a short-term cash crisis and fraught relations with a major customer. The students fought hard to get the best deal they could, struggle to prevent their newly bought company from immediately sinking into bankruptcy, and deal with the inimitable Alex Schönsteinweg at a hurried airport meeting. It was thrilling, stressful and competitive, but everyone thought on their feet and held their ground well, even as the counsellors tried their best to upend them.
“in order for a team to function correctly, every one must not only have the right answer but must also be expressing them in the right way” – Ethan
Even if some team felt their scenarios didn’t go as well as planned, none of the participants let this bring them down, as WenBin remarked: “Our team spirit has improved a lot and we did fairly well. With that in mind, I hope that we can continue this good momentum and even strengthen our team spirit today!”. All throughout, the team were receiving emails from characters as various as the local Mayor, the nearby primary school, and superstar cyclist and Maywood-sponsored Tour de France rider Jean-Marie Victor. Things blew up, threats were made and demands flew in from every angle to test the teams’ resilience, organisation and, of course, communication skills.
After an exhausting day’s role-plays, and a short Volleyball break, the students were treated to a lecture by video-link from the world-renowned Erin Meyer, whose bestselling book ‘The Cultural Map‘ has sat at the top of many business book lists. Erin talked engagingly with the students about the differences between cultures, in several important dimensions, from trust building to the delivery of negative feedback. Every member of the audience was able to identify with the characteristics of different cultures and nationalities – be it team dynamics in YFCD or how best to approach their bi-national parents at home!
Caitlin applied Erin’s fascinating concepts to YFCD as she reflected:
“we all need to be aware of not only our cultural preferences but those of the people around us to ensure productivity is at its peak”
Erin spoke in an interactive way about these different spectra of behaviour that exist and the way countries are spread across it, generally determining the way that they behave. As the realisation dawned on students’ faces for the reasons why some of the conversations they have occur the way they do, or why their friends and families may speak or engage in silence a certain way, we learned more about how to approach multi-cultural settings from a business perspective.
The night got extremely funky and (high school) musical as students – once they got a word in edgeways in between X-Factor ambitious Counsellors – let loose with karaoke at night featuring some classics: Disney, Green Day, Queen, and even Metallica(?) and of course, pop hits. Perhaps a charity single is our next great business opportunity.