David Foster, fascinated by people, organisations and messy challenges
Our lecturer we’re profiling this week is David Foster. David is the module leader for two of our modules; Creativity in Enterprise and International Strategy.
As well as developing our students’ knowledge of academic theory, David uses his own business to bring commercial experience to his teaching – bridging the world of academia with practical application.
On which programmes and modules do you teach?
I am module leader for an idiosyncratic second-year option called Creativity In Enterprise, designed to help students rediscover their natural creativity and apply it to a wide range of normal (messy) business challenges.
I am also module leader for International Strategy, a full-time MBA module. This also leverages a creative methodology to prepare students to be able to ‘think freely, at will’ when looking for weak signals of macro opportunities & risks, as well when designing strategies to take advantage of these changes.
I teach one seminar group for the first-year Business Project, where students are designing an app. I have also been standing in for a colleague and teaching Developing International Strategic Capabilities to part-time MBA students as well as a one-day Strategy and Turnaround Management workshop on the Strategy, Planning & Commissioning module for public sector and not-for-profit Masters students.
I am also the academic supervisor for three students doing their Placement year.
Tell us a little about your professional background?
I teach only part-time. For the last ten years I have been a consultant with a suitably unusual methodology focusing on People, Development & Change within organisations. At a simplistic level, this work rallies the internal energy of teams, departments or small organisations and helps people to quickly face the same direction towards clear goals.
Prior to this, I ran Direct Experience marketing agencies for twelve years… if you’re not sure what Direct Experience is, one brief asked us to hand out hot samples of a frozen product, for consumers to taste, outside grocery superstores across five TV regions… we employed 935 staff to hand out 3.8 million samples in 20 activity days.
What can you tell us about the module/course you’re teaching?
From my commercial work, I know that more value is added through thinking creatively about the messy challenges that manifest in the workplace, so the common theme for all my modules is to help students develop these skills, alongside an ability to work effectively in teams, engage stakeholders and present with confidence. This is not a linear process and I make good use of a multi-faceted active learning methodology… and spend hours preparing for each session.
What interests you most about the subject you teach?
I am fascinated by people and by organisations. There is so much to be gained if employees, managers and leaders are thinking more effectively about the work they do and the effect that it has on the world around them. The great thing is that there is no palpable additional cost, but the effect is to increase the engagement of employees, customers and broader stakeholder groups.
Tell us about any projects you’ve been working on outside of the classroom
I’m currently taking a course called Writing for Academic Publication with the hope that I will be able to publish my ideas on creativity, strategy and active learning. I also have a half-written book which leverages my ideas to help employees engage in their role.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Seeing students figure stuff out for themselves… my view is that this facilitates a much more sustainable pattern of life-long learning 🙂