One of the many things I appreciate about studying at the Fashion Business School at London College of Fashion is learning from a range of inspiring business and fashion personalities.
Hearing about their experiences is not only incredibly exciting, but also one of my favourite ways to gain knowledge and reflect on the kind of manager I want to become in the future, so it was a unique opportunity to listen to Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, and her wealth of advice and insight into the dynamics of management. Having worked in management positions for the likes of P&G, Mars and Boots, we were very curious to hear her opinion of what it takes to be a great manager in 2016.
Looking back on the talk, one word stuck with me in particular – communication. So often we are told about the importance of getting internships on our CV, achieving high academic results and polishing our IT skills. Of course, job experience and technological skills are vital for us students to grow and progress in our careers, however, what about the ability to communicate effectively? How can we, as students, motivate and encourage ourselves and our peers, so that we can do the same once we find ourselves in managing positions? Ann argued that at the end of the day it is people who lead, not jobs. In fact, 4 out of 5 managers in the UK are untrained and 43% of UK employees feel their line managers lead ineffectively. Shocking numbers which show that there is huge potential for a young generation of rhetorically-fluent managers to step in and lead on the basis of open dialogue and inclusion, of empowerment of the individual as a source of growth and innovation. The times of exclusively authoritative leadership styles have passed and leave space for modern managers, who embrace change and see failure as a natural and healthy part of working life. Even Ann admitted she failed in the past, telling us about how she had to adapt her management style because employees didn’t feel valued and appreciated by her – a lesson learned at the beginning of her career which ended up having a lasting impact on her approach towards management and communication.
Lastly, Ann also talked about the importance of encouraging women to be more confident of their abilities and to claim leadership positions. Female empowerment is a topic very close to my heart and I love the fact I can learn from a range of talented, powerful women on a daily basis. At the Fashion Business School in particular, I believe the real question should be one of gender equality, as our male peers are the ones who are, in fact, the minority! As a course representative, I want to work towards creating a community where we support and help each other, irrespective of gender or age or nationality. The beauty and unique strength of our school is our diversity and the competitiveness of the industry should not stop us from fostering strong and lasting relationships. Let’s start today becoming the great managers of tomorrow.
A warm thanks to Ann Francke on behalf of the Fashion Management student body, we look forward to creating more learning opportunities in collaboration with the CMI in the future.
Written by Victoria Schmierer, Course Representative BA (Hons) Fashion Management.