23 minute read

How 2020 changed business education

In the final episode of season two of the BlueSky Education Thinking Podcast, BlueSky Education’s Stephanie Mullins, Kerry Ruffle and Katie Hurley discuss the future of business education, focusing on the rise of virtual events, along with returning guest Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, and an in-depth interview with fellow BlueSky Education Thinking host, Matt Symonds.

Here’s what they had to say

Steph: In our third instalment of looking at the future of business education, we're examining virtual events. Now, we've all enjoyed physical events in our careers, but that hasn't been possible in the last few months. The rise of virtual events have actually been a surprising plus point. For me personally, I found them engaging and useful. I've made real connections. And I found that if people invest the time properly into them and they end up getting the most out of them, they really reap the rewards. Now beyond webinars, which we were probably all doing before the coronavirus pandemic hit and had mass impact, what have we been looking at? There's been industry bodies, there's been existing conferences that have been taken online, and there's been so much more. We've had the opportunity still to learn and still to meet. Kerry, how have you been finding virtual events?

Kerry: Previously, virtual events were things that people would disengage themselves from if they could. People would much prefer to escape the office for a day, head into town, go and sit at a conference, it's a good chance to meet people to escape the day-to-day work and responsibilities that they have. And there are events that have been increasingly important. You know, students go into business school, you don't attend business school just to sit in the classroom, you attend to make connections, form a network and meet people. It's the same in any business environment, any industry that you go into, those opportunities to step away are absolutely crucial. And obviously, it’s like you said, as the virus has hit, we haven't had the chance to do that physically. And this is really where all these advancements in tech that we've been speaking about over the past few episodes have really come into their own. We're seeing now that you can sit at home and click a button and attend an event and gain the best possible social interaction that you can from your own home rather than being somewhere in person. I think it's something that's not going to change. In the near future at least, we are all still being encouraged to be separate and to stay home. And even as the Coronavirus eases and vaccines get introduced, I think there will still be a little bit of caution.

Also, I think that the reliance on tech now has proved that these things can be done comfortably, easily from home. They can attract a bigger audience, and they can encourage greater discussions. And I think it opens the door to people that perhaps weren't able to attend things in the past that can now get on board and interact with people that they might not have crossed paths with before. So as much as there is to be lost from the physical side of things, I think virtual events bring great opportunities, and it's been really interesting to see how other organisations have been creative in putting these events together to make sure that they're still impactful, they're still engaging, they're still useful to the people that are signing up to them. Obviously, we've got a couple of interviews in this podcast of people that have attended events or have planned events and can share their expertise. So who are we hearing from today?

Steph: So in this episode, we'll be hearing from our fellow co-host, Matt Symonds, who has put on many virtual events throughout his career and even more in the past few months. We've also got the continuation of Angus Laing's interview, he's the Dean of Lancaster University Management School, and he's looking at it from a very senior business education point of view. But first off, we have our very own PR consultant, Katie Hurley, giving her thoughts on attending virtual events. Katie, how have you been finding it?

Katie virtual events 1 (Captioned by Zubtitle)

Katie: You know, I've actually been pleasantly surprised by virtual events. I thought beforehand, I wouldn't enjoy them, because without that face to face contact, I thought, this is going to be boring, I'm not interested. But they have really surprised me. I found that they've just been much more interactive, and I feel like people are really trying to make an effort to connect with other people. I actually read an article in The New York Times the other day, which basically said that people have much more high quality conversations, because you know who's going to be attending the event beforehand, and you can do a little bit of research on them. Then when you go to actually speak to them, you have something concrete to speak to them about, and I think the whole situation has been a lot better than they would be in face to face, which is really surprising.

Steph: That's so true. Because the people you talk to at a conference in person you tend to just bump into, and you don't really know who they are until you start talking, and the conversations that happen are organic but perhaps not the most useful conversations you could be having and you could be talking to people who really understand you and can really help and advise and work with you. You might think you’re missing out on that, but you're not when it's a virtual event, you can make some really awesome connections, absolutely. And I think another benefit is how it's actually brought people together, as I know you were saying to me earlier, it can be a way of helping,

Katie: I think the whole COVID situation, people have been thrown into such an unpredictable and uncertain situation, especially business schools and universities, they don't really know what's happening there. And from my experience with these virtual events, I've just seen people actually helping each other and offering their insights and what they've experienced so far.

I was actually part of a roundtable event back a few months ago with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), and it was so refreshing to see people sitting there just saying that this is what our institution is struggling with, has anyone got any tips, and then seeing people be like, ‘well, this is what's worked for us, and this is what we've been doing, maybe this could work for you’. It's just really refreshing. So I feel like beforehand, there was an element of competition between the institutions that wanted to have the best MBA, or have the top applicants, and then that's kind of gone out the window. To see a little bit more of a human element between people, I think is really nice, especially with everything that's going on.

Steph: I totally agree, it’s so nice. I think all education, all institutions, have found themselves in this same boat, in a scenario that they've never experienced before – that no one's ever experienced before, and no one could have predicted it was going to happen. So these events online are a way of connecting and making the best out of the situation.

Katie: And I think also you see universities from all over the world, the good thing with virtual events, it's made everything so much more accessible for people. People could not have dreamt of having an event, say in London and having people from Nigeria, Canada, America, India, everywhere, just come over, you just would never have that. But I'm seeing that happening, and having all of that despite the travel restrictions, it's just really nice to see how much more globally accessible it is for people now.

Steph: So true, I think it's breaking down barriers that have been in place for a long time. Because, let's look at the financial cost of travelling to attend a conference, it's huge. And a lot of institutions and a lot of individuals simply can't afford to do that. But they can log on to a Zoom or log on to a webinar or join a conference online in a way that they wouldn't have been able to if it was only in person physically. And I love seeing that widening participation and getting all these different voices and opinions coming together in a way that perhaps we've never seen before.

Katie: Exactly, I think it makes these events a lot more diverse, and you get different opinions. And it just makes that so much better than it would be before. If you had an event in New York, you probably would have many Americans and I just think it'd be nice to have that complete diversity where you literally get a complete representation, which you wouldn't have before.

Steph: Totally, just because a conference is hosted in one city or one country, it doesn't mean that only people from that local geographical area can go to it, it’s definitely meant that more people have been able to attend and benefit from these situations, from these conferences. Do you hope this will continue into the future?

Katie: I do definitely think they will continue in the future. Don't get me wrong, I do miss the face to face contact and just having a general conversation. I feel like with virtual events, you don't quite have that, just a little bit of a chat beforehand; How are you doing? How are things going? It feels very to the point of what you're talking about and you don't have much deviation from that. So I do think maybe a blend of both virtual and face to face would be really nice. I think I do miss just having a conversation with someone in person about just general things.

Steph: I agree with you. I miss that as well. And I think you've hit the nail on the head there. The perfect result of this would be more of both. You get all the positivity and all the great stuff that has happened in the last few months. Despite such an unprecedented world that we're experiencing, we still keeping the best bits from it.

Katie: Definitely. I do think the universities and business schools will be better for it. I think that we'll have the best of both worlds, which is a dream come true.

Steph: Definitely. Well, I think that's a wonderful note to end on. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Kerry: Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School agrees with Katie's perspective. Speaking with Steph, he explained how the necessary digital shift has presented schools with a wealth of opportunity.

Steph: Are there any other aspects that you think are really working in the industry or for your School, that are really being successful in this new era almost of business education?

Angus: I mean, before coming to that just for a second, just in particular in terms of how I think about our reach or research, and reach of engagement with industry and other academics, I think this has enabled us to think just on this point about students, student recruitment, student mobility. One of the issues we're all facing, and one that is going to be there when the pandemic washes through, is the sustainability, the carbon footprint. The carbon footprint of universities is hugely driven by business schools, international students flying in from around the world, and I think we have to ask the question as to whether that makes sustainable environmental sense, as well as sustainable in a business model sense. So moving closer, delivering content closer to the students where they are, seems to me a fairly sensible way of going. I think it also enables us and if we look at the way Ghana, for us is a really good example of this, is to look at how you can integrate local content, local expertise into the curriculum. So it's yes, it's an international curriculum, it's an international experience, students meet up with what we teach it in, we teach the Executive MBA, specifically in Lancaster, in Ghana, in Accra, and in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, we bring those groups of students together.

So that's a really good way for them to come together without necessarily travelling. But perhaps equally importantly, in both Malaysia and Ghana, we have local academics tailoring the programme bringing in cases bringing in evidence and experience from that local context. And that's content that's actually then available to the students in Lancaster. So I think the use of campuses, more localised, reduction of the amount of flying, with digital components and, of course, genuinely blended, is creating some exciting opportunities for all of us. Coming to your other point about other things and the impact it's had, we found the ability to run conference, academic conferences, to run events to run seminars, has been transformed.

Now the things you lose, like the opportunity for people to have the informal conversation at the bar, you lose that unequivocally. And this is something I think we do struggle with, and we will miss; we do miss. But in terms of really being able to communicate the work, you engage people globally, with the work, we’re doing hugely successful, and we have multiple examples. One of our annual Lecture Series in economics, we typically get Nobel laureates coming and speaking, this year, middle of pandemic, Vernon Smith, middle of pandemic, it's not going to happen, so we did it on Zoom. More than 500 people participating in the event. And I was saying earlier about how students find Zoom conferences, in being able to ask questions, it was incredibly interactive, it ran on for about three hours. So it was very successful.

We've seen similar things with the programmes we do with business. We run masterclasses across the north of England for NatWest bank, we're still doing that. And we normally get a couple hundred of owners/managers coming to the campus. It's far wider now, it’s reaching way beyond the travelling audience. We've got a role in running a national training programme for operational research. Similarly, pulling in participants from across northern Europe, as well as the UK.

So it's enabled us to do a lot of really interesting things. And the trick is, how do we get social? How do we get some of that social glue that is so important in academic conferences. So I think that's enabled us to do things in a different way. And I know, we're probably a little bit of a laggard compared to some institutions and having done this before, but what's happened now is everybody's just so comfortable with doing this type of type of interaction, they're attending events like events like this. I find it very useful myself. You can go and you can sign up for an event. And you can go to all the time, but because the signing up gives you access, you can listen to it at a time of your convenience. So in terms of our ability to communicate knowledge, it has been has been hugely, hugely helpful.

Steph: I agree, I think it has transcended geographical barriers, which has meant that a lot of people who couldn't attend events or conferences now can because all they need is a computer or a laptop, and they are there. And it's interesting, because a lot of the conferences that we attend, especially in business education from AMBA to EFMD and all the other bodies that set up conferences, are seeing a huge amount of attendance from areas they didn't get before. And it's really interesting that you say actually, the thing that's missing is the chat at the bar, having a conversation over lunch and getting to know someone a bit more informally. I mean, how are you seeing that work? In your experience?

Angus: I think that me raising that point was emblematic of the sense that it is a bit more difficult. You have to go much more consciously and tag somebody and go and say I want to have a chat afterwards. It does work. It's the spontaneity of that element. It's the serendipity of bumping into people, being one on one needs to be more organised, and perhaps a little bit more focused in terms of making those connections, but it certainly can work well.

And I think there's other interesting innovations. We’re a member of the Global Business School Network and we've just been taking a lead working, supporting the development of entrepreneurs in residence around the world, because we've got more than 60 of them. We've been working with universities in Lebanon, universities in Egypt, universities in Latin America, to support their development of their entrepreneur in residence networks. And that's worked incredibly well, online, because people are focused around a particular thing, and I can see a real benefit coming from this. So entrepreneurs in residence, we’ve worked very hard over the past three, four years to really internationalise them, so they're not sort of quite male, Northern England manufacturing, being much broader, but the volume, being able to pull entrepreneurs in residence in a network for much further afield, and actually putting the entrepreneurs themselves in touch with entrepreneurs in Egypt, in Colombia is hugely, hugely beneficial to them, it adds the value the entrepreneurs get from working with us. So it's triggered opportunities. But I think we do need to be much more organised about it.

Steph: That’s really interesting, because this whole conversation seems to embrace so many opportunities, and so many positives and the way people have been so proactive, despite dealing with this pandemic. Our listeners are heavily engaged in the business education community. They like to hear these things, they like to hear about how we're moving forward. Is there anything that we haven't covered today? Because I know you had a number of ideas about speaking in regards to the pandemic? And is there anything else you would like to talk about?

Angus: I think for me, the big issue is that it's changing the way we operate. That we've agreed and that’s all very clear. The question I've got is whether the model we've heard of developing academics over the past couple of decades, necessarily means we have got the academics with the skills we need to do the type of delivery we do? If you start to think about particularly asynchronous delivery of material, you're doing your podcasts, you're getting your lecture content up that you've got your expert doing it. That's obviously replicable and you can use it in multiple locations, what we find is important is the interactive, the synchronous educational experience online as well. And you may always need a different skill set. So the person that does the asynchronous content, effectively, the performance, the recording stage performance, do we need as many of those with the skills to do that, as we need the people who can handle and support the learning skills, the learning facilitators?

So if I was going to take a long term punt on this one, I wonder whether we will actually be seeing less need for as many disciplinary research-focused academics and more emphasis on academics who can really support the learning experience, can support the rigour imposed, experience to support the learners and attainment of their data objectives. So I think that for me, that's one interesting issue. So the staffing mix will change. And I also think it's partly pandemic link, but I think it's a broader shift in the UK, the US, mainland Europe, Australia, around the importance of impact within business schools, there will be an academic impact on citations, I mean, impact of changing practice in in the real world. And that says then, okay, so what do we want in terms of research-focused academics, teacher academics, and engagement focused academics? And what background do they come from? Are they people who've come out of practice, and perhaps by a more professional doctorate route into business education? Or is it particular academics who may have come through a fairly traditional PhD route, who developed a particular interest and desire, but can focus on working really closely with businesses.

So for what it's worth, I think we'll see a greater diversification of the shape of the academic staff base, and probably far greater emphasis on team based approaches to teaching; your content developer, your learning facilitator, but also on the research side, people are good at research funding, people who are really good at doing the research, and the four star FT 50 publications, and people who are good at really engaging business with the process. And I suppose in a sense, us as a community moving away from a predominantly social science model of research, which has been the individual scholar to the big group, which is what one would see in the sciences.

So I think those are changes that are going to be occurring in the background, I'm not convinced they're caused by the pandemic, I'm not even sure that pandemic accelerated them. But I think the whole turmoil, the whole change, unfreezing if you want to use the change management language, the pandemic has caused, will probably bring some of these agendas to the fore in the coming decade more than they have been to date.

Steph: I agree. And I think that's a really important trend that we've seen in the last few years about business schools actually having a real-world impact, and that includes research. I read a research paper that said a lot of journals aren’t read by people who aren't academics, and one of the main reasons that business schools come to us is to help get their research into the media, so it's read by people who can actually make a difference. We get requests from the UN wanting to speak to these academics, we get requests from the government so that they can help advise, and it's all about raising awareness and making sure this work, which is ultimately meant to change society and to improve it, is actually having an impact. And I think that's a wonderful note to end on - thank you so much for joining us.

Angus: Thanks very much.

Steph: I really enjoyed speaking with Angus and hearing about his point of view as a business school dean. But moving on, we're now going to speak with Matt about all the virtual events he's been hosting in the past few months. Matt, tell us a little bit about what you've been doing.

Matt: Thanks Steph, and it’s strange to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer, because I guess that's been a big part of the events that I've put together now for the last 25 years. And when I think of it as a quarter of a century, the changes that we've seen in the last seven, eight months have happened at such an accelerated and I think such a natural pace. When I organised the first, what was to become the world MBA tour back 1995, we were cramming lots of school representatives into their tables to meet candidates initially in Paris and then in other major cities around Europe. Then Nunzio Quacquarelli, joined and we created QS and of course, that’s Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and the rollercoaster of the world MBA tour for 12/15 years, and schools, I think were embedded in this idea of outreach, connecting of course, with individuals in different corners of the world. Virtual events were very, very slow to really pick up but the pandemic has turned things on its head and required schools to adapt.

I have to say, just how impressed I am by schools, across all different departments of the school, how quick they have been to adapt to these new formats. I think, you know, you've spoken in your introduction about the importance of connections and actually meeting people, and increasingly, I think there's the sense of “Yeah, now I can still meet people”, and perhaps meeting individuals I could never previously have dreamt of.

I think there's another component that the virtual fairs can be tremendous at delivering, and that's content. So just for context, in the last three years with John Byrne, Editor in Chief of Poets and Quants, we've had great fun putting together the CentreCourt MBA Festival, which was designed for many of the world's top business schools to meet with great applicants, and inevitably, we chose major markets in Europe and North America. And we'd run around from the NASDAQ Centre in San Francisco to the Time Centre in New York, where Helen Mirren and Sting had been on stage before us, sadly, they weren't there when we showed up. And places like the Tate Modern, in London, great events. But even then, I think, the idea of bringing everybody together, we're committed to this idea of capturing content, and we'd sit down, John would sit down with Deans, and talk about their vision for business education, and I would sit down with the admissions directors of those schools - and that was great. We had wonderful fun with it.

But as the pandemic obviously closed down opportunities to then travel, we moved to a virtual format for events in 2020, starting with events that we held in April and May, and there was just a sea change. And we went from having 15 to 20 schools in one city, to suddenly having 28 of the top 30 schools, you know, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, London Business School, Imperial, MIT, Sloan, Berkeley, all of these fantastic schools in one place.

We had people like Kirsten Moss from Stanford, and Chad Lowe joined us from Harvard Business School. And I think, as I look at some of the other events that that I co-organise, including the MaKi media conferences that are talked about, this ability to bring in speakers – Kerry, you spoke about great content because you can access great speakers.

Of course, that virtual platform was bringing in voices from Palo Alto on the west coast, Boston on the East Coast, all the way through to Singapore, and candidates loved it. Not only did we have about three and a half thousand attendees for that event, a global audience because of course, virtually we could reach people in time zones all over the world. But the content, all of those panels, or those interviews with alumni, and something that we introduced for the first time was panels with Career Services directors who previously had never engaged in MBA recruitment folks. And their panels were wildly popular.

Since those events in the spring, some of those panels have been watched by about 240,000 people through the different channels that we promote CentreCourt. So you start to realise that not only are we having one day or two days and people's ability to connect with us, but the reach of that content to people all over the world, when we used to have events that were restricted to some of those major cities, meant that we were not capturing other parts of the country, let alone other parts of the continent. And when I looked at it, I think we had close to 100 nationalities coming in from all over the world, I was struck just by the sort of reach these virtual events are able to achieve.

Kerry: That certainly sounds incredibly impressive. You think about sitting in a room with these 1000s and 1000s of applicants, that wouldn't happen physically. So to be able to bring them all together to one virtual hub is quite an incredible feat. So as the organiser of these events, it strikes me that you might have something to consider in terms of keeping that sense of community alive, when you've got such a big audience to cater to, and you're doing it in such a removed way by everyone being at home rather than sharing the same room. So what do you think are the key things that you can build into an online event that help keep engagement high and help keep that social connection alive when we're also separate?

Matt: It's a good question. And I think this sense of community really is at the heart of these events and on a couple of levels. When you have these professionals, these gatekeepers or career makers as I like to think about them, these are incredibly dedicated, very warm, very enthusiastic individuals. And I think that's something that really comes across, and it breaks down some of those barriers for young professionals as they think about their subsequent goals. Just the idea that securing a place in one of the top MBA/Master's programmes is within their reach.

I think when we look at the feedback that we've had from attendees of the events, and perhaps Katie spoke to this earlier, they've been very generous in their comments and feedback that said “Wow, I never thought that I'd be able to have a face to face discussion, well not face to face, but a one on one discussion via Zoom with these individuals”. And it's been incredibly inspiring and helpful. But it's also fascinating to see how this group of young professionals all then connect with one another.

It's very easy to believe when there are over 8000 applicants applying to 417 places at Stanford. For example, Imperial’s Masters in Business Analytics, I think they have close to 4000 applications and just 85 places in the programme, which makes it the most selective Business School programme, I think, in the world. So it would be easy to think that everybody else that's attending this event is potentially my competitor, my rival, but it doesn't work that way. They've been breaking off into groups, and whether they've been talking about their study plans or tests, or whoever you've been thinking about approaching for your letters of recommendation, if you work in the oil and gas industry to your consultant banker. They've been just myriad conversations taking place between them. And I see that as, in some ways, a foreshadowing of the sort of business school experience that they can look forward to, these will be their future classmates and that very interactive dynamic. This is a group that is not put off by the fact that it's on a digital platform and they seem to be very, very comfortable reaching out sharing their personal hopes and dreams, but also their passions and interests. And it just creates this wonderful momentum of individuals collectively saying, “Yes we can”, rather than being sort of just by yourself and looking at it as this mountain to climb.

Kerry: I think that's an important point to look at it from a student perspective, we are dealing with a younger generation that have grown up with the internet readily available, and online social platforms part of their day to day life. So they’re used to engaging with people through a screen, more than they are picking up the phone or speaking to somebody or meeting them in person. And we've already seen in terms of programmes that shift towards online studying, whether it's a blended learning approach, or a fully online approach becoming more and more popular as the years go by. So looking to the future, and you know, obviously, we hope to see a brighter future with the virus passing and borders opening back up and people being able to travel again. What do you think the future is for events? Do you think that we'll move away from virtual events and, and get together again, in conference centres and fantastic venues around the world? Or do you think that there's now going to be an appetite and a preference for staying home, now that we've seen exactly what tech can provide for us?

Matt: I think we'll start meeting again, I wouldn't want to lose that sort of contact. In fact, I think for many people, that's really something that they have missed, and it does bring something of immense value, whether it's for events, considering your business school plans, or the sort of industry conferences that you've been discussing on this episode. But virtual needed, perhaps that kickstart, and COVID and the pandemic certainly have created the need, and how quickly schools have said, wow, you know with this we can extend our reach, we can have many more conversations, you know, when we're not limited when we're not losing all of this time in travel.

So I think even as they themselves have adapted with their own webinars and virtual campus visits, I think that the idea of these virtual events is here to stay. I talked about our ability to reach individuals, as you know, for the last 15 years with Kiki Keating, we've been organising the MaKi Business School media conferences and, typically, we'd have a couple of events every year that will take us to London, to Hong Kong, or Beijing or Singapore, major cities across the Americas, across the Middle East and Africa. And of course, it was one city and bringing together editors, reporters from the world's major media, and then many of the local national players. Again, we've had to take that format virtual this year, and so forth.

So far we have organised three events, one that was dedicated to the Financial Times, a second one that was dedicated to the Wall Street Journal, and then the third one with Bloomberg, and as I look at these individuals that we were able to involve in those events, I mean, I feel spoiled. We had bureau chiefs from New York, from Sao Paolo, from London, from Mumbai, literally all over the world, we had the dedicated business education reporters, all in one place and sharing how they like to work, the research trends, faculty expertise that they would love to engage with business schools. And it's been seamless.

So I do look forward to physical events, it's lovely to be able to shake someone's hand, perhaps have a drink at the end of a very insightful and engaged panel. But I think that this ability to deliver bite sized chunks with key thought leaders and speakers that then the audience can consume as it fits their own schedules and say, well tonight, I just want to sit and watch a panel with admissions advice for the seven schools, and then tomorrow morning, perhaps I might catch the interview with whether it's GMAC or whether it's some Bloomberg panel, that's just fitting into, I think, a very different schedule that all of us will adopt, in the months and years after COVID.

Steph: I loved hearing about this from an organisational point of view, and hearing how you best put together these events. But for those people investing their time and resources in attending events, how do you think they can make the most out of them?

Matt: I feel very lucky because with these 1000s and 1000s of attendees, I'm still in touch with an enormous number of them through LinkedIn and other platforms, and they talk about what they got out of the event. I think some of them are at the early stages of their planning and they were just taking all of this information, it's perhaps a year, two-year-old process as they think about their business school plans. And that's great, Zoom will enable them just to digest all of this information, but you then start to see, as they sort of pick up momentum and build their confidence, how they then want to engage and have these conversations. So beyond the panels, we have lots of chat rooms and I think both, for schools that perhaps you already had on your target list, being very pointed and specific. It's great to have your elevator pitch and a very quick discussion of your background - don't take too long to share that with the school. But these are great questions, they'll be able to pick up on the essentials of your background. And that's about where business school now fits on the school websites, like Poets&Quants to then ask perhaps more pointed questions, or using this as the first step in an ongoing dialogue with the school, you know, I always advise individuals, to connect with students and alumni, certainly individuals that we look to involve in events, but be very specific about it. If your passion is for AI and machine learning, well see if the school can connect you to the president of the AI club, they probably have one. And if they don't have that club, maybe you'll be the next student that will start it. I think that helps candidates to start to see how they can make this incredibly personal to their own journey, and the sort of connection that sometimes it's difficult to start. How do I reach people from Harvard Business School or from LBS? I think that these events are a great place to start and really get you thinking about those sort of opportunities. So yeah, a great springboard for the sort of research that's required and schools can tell when you've really taken the time to personalise your research.

Steph: That's really interesting, looking at it from attendee perspective. But how can people take it on conference platform?

Matt: Yeah, I guess the idea of the virtual event, you might say, it's this day in April, it's this day in November, but as you look at the sort of content that is captured and the shelf life of that material is great, that there's an enormous amount schools themselves can do through social media, I think when you've got these admissions directors and careers services directors, clearly the students and alumni voices that we're bringing together, that's just fantastic content. I think, to then be able to share through social, you know, think about a wedding, we've all seen those YouTube clips where the bride and groom are dancing, and somehow trip and fall into the wedding cake, there's none of that sort of spectacle on offer for these events. But I think for schools, building it into their overall strategy and approach and saying, Yes, on this Tuesday afternoon, we'll be sitting down panels, and sharing insights and perspectives, but that's material that they can use for the weeks, months and years that follow. So I think the amplification of this, through YouTube, through LinkedIn, through Facebook and all of these channels, the event itself is just the start.

Steph: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us today all about virtual events. I for one, I'm taking away all the positives, the breaking down barriers and everything people can learn and achieve through these events. So that brings us to the end of episode six of our second series. Thank you for listening.

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