Wycombe Abbey once against hosted the annual Wycombe Management Conference in partnership with Royal Grammar School. Now in its twenty-sixth year, the conference is the longest running event of its type in the country.
It was an invaluable experience for all who attended, giving us an insight into the world of business. Over the two-day period, we were able to develop an awareness of the commercial decision-making process, from marketing and product development to financial negotiation and sales. The conference aimed to strengthen a variety of different skill sets, such as public speaking, teamwork and creativity.
We were also fortunate enough to attend a range of lectures from esteemed individuals with corporate and financial expertise, who imparted invaluable advice and wisdom. These included Lord Bilimoria, the chairman of Cobra Beer; energy lawyer and former Lord Mayor of London Dame Fiona Woolf; and Gerard O'Keeffe, former head of Allied Irish Bank.
The main occupation of the conference was to establish a pizzeria within allocated groups; choosing a location, company name, slogan and logo. Our decisions were fed into a computer model, which calculated profits (or in some cases, losses) on the basis of different variables. Each team was advised by a mentor, an experienced practitioner from the world of business and entrepreneurship.
The decisions were surprisingly difficult to make, and pushed us to assume leadership roles within our groups to find compromise.
This was particularly interesting as we were working alongside students who contributed varying perspectives from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We had to be flexible with our business plans, making ‘quarterly' alterations along the way in an attempt to maximise our profit.
Other games, such as a commodities trading game organised by Deutsche Bank, encouraged further competition between the groups.
Not only did we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in an activity far removed from traditional academic studies, but we were also able to meet new people and form friendships.
Overall, this year's Wycombe Management Conference was a thoroughly enjoyable experience through which we gained understanding and appreciation for the challenges presented in business and the rewards of running a small enterprise.
Emily and Elinor, LVI