Lectures done ✔. Exams done ✔. Now it’s time to dig deep into research which is a major requirement for Masters students looking to complete their studies and do so with flying colors. These are surely exciting times as we race with high hopes to the finish line of our 100-meter sprint towards achieving a world class degree that will propel us into a world of opportunities across numerous career paths. This is what sets us apart and makes us competitive amongst our peers globally.
The Henley Postgraduate Summer Networking Social could not have come at a better time! After the intense yet intellectually stimulating autumn, spring and summer terms, many of us could not pass up the opportunity to unwind, destress, and network in a relaxed yet inspiring atmosphere on a bright sunny day in June.
No less than 50 students, members of the academic faculty and administrative staff gathered for the day-long social, which left many of us refreshed with new connections and a clear sight for the weeks, months and years ahead.
As an international marketing student, it was great to reconnect with my course mates studying the other two marketing pathways – digital marketing and consumer marketing, as well as with Dr. Ruby Zhang, the marketing Programme Director, and Dr. Melissa Mete, a lecturer within the department. I also linked up with a couple of friends who I met earlier in the year, during cultural walks to Uffington, a quiet but beautiful village in Oxfordshire, and around the dynamic town of Reading which I captured in my blog here.
Arrival at Greenlands Campus – a breathtaking sight!
The group boarded two coaches from the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus car park at exactly 10:35am and set out to Henley-on-Thames. We arrived at the beautiful Greenlands Campus at 11:15am and were ushered into the reception of the “stately” neoclassical styled white building with tall columns, reminiscent of ancient Greek or Roman architecture. The stark white building set against a backdrop of the blue skies, green fields, trees and a section of the river Thames, was absolutely mind blowing and could be drawn as an artistic masterpiece! Pictures do not do justice.
We had more opportunity to catchup and network over tea and coffee until 11:50am when we converged in the National Grid Conference Room for a series of talks bordering on our prospects for the future and how we could take advantage of Henley Live- a networking, knowledge and development hub made up of Alumni and supporters of the business school around the world.
I particularly enjoyed learning about the heritage and origins of Henley Business School, which has been in existence for over 75 years. Formerly an administrative staff college, which later transitioned to Henley Management College, it was thrilling to know that in the mid-1940’s, Henley played host to the first cohort of a management course and thereafter began education through the MBA programmes. This slice of history was told by Keith Heron, Programme Area Director for Postgraduate Business and Management Courses.
For the next hour or so, we were charged to leverage our newly built confidence to engage with the world based on the remarkable skills and knowledge we have developed so far. We also had insightful reminders of our numerous career prospects from Kleio Akrivou, Programme Director of Management; Neelam Kaul, Careers Coach at Henley Careers & Professional Development; and Donal McLoughlin, Head of Rankings on Alumni Relations.
At the end of the session, I was privileged to be captured in a group shot with members of the academic staff who were present.
A calming retreat into nature
Lunch in the Heyworth Room was a laid-back affair consisting of a tasty three course meal served in a buffet style. This segued into another major highlight of the day, a boat cruise on ’The New Orleans’, famed to be the largest and most luxurious passenger vessel on the Upper Thames.
The captain and crew welcomed us aboard with warm smiles and we were treated to options of icy cold lemonade or orange juice which we sipped while taking in the amazing scenery on the upper deck. The weather was gloriously warm at around 20 °C with a wafting cool breeze from the river and lively swing music playing in the background mixed with sounds of nature, which for me, helped with an honest retrospection of my journey on the Masters programme thus far, and how this comes full circle with my career plans in the near term.
On the one-hour ride across the river, we were greeted with sights of various rowing teams practicing for the highly acclaimed Henley Royal Regatta which will take place over the course of six days (From 28 June to 3 July 2022). As the cruise came to an end, we were reluctant to leave the serene riverside atmosphere but the promise of strawberries and cream along with a glass or two of sparkling Prosecco on the lawn was too good to ignore.
Once again, it is safe to say Reading is a cultural melting pot and Henley attracts and retains highflying academics from across the globe. The students and faculty who attended the networking event represented various nationalities from countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Some success with cross-cultural marketing I would say! The trip ended on a high note as we had cause to exchange contact details with individuals with whom we had built new relationships.
by Oluwatoyin Bayagbon – Masters in Marketing (International Marketing) student