The value of structured innovation

Innovation and invention have always been celebrated by companies. Since the ‘Mad Men’ era of advertising, buzzwords like “new and improved” have been staples, while in the last 20 years digital and tech companies have been desperate to get to market with version 1.0 or 2.0. The aim has always been to give customers something better or more exciting. Innovation can lead to big success.

Is all innovation a leap into the future?

If you look carefully at the products on offer, however, you’ll notice something interesting. A food company, for example, may offer an ‘improved recipe’ that isn’t necessarily innovative. Sometimes it’s a reaction to customer complaints about texture, size or taste. Recipes can be forced to change because preferred ingredients increase in price; supply chains can be hit by politics, global economics or even the weather, forcing food makers to take positive action or risk affecting production. You may have even noticed that the apps on your phone are constantly updated with suffixes like “v1.0.11” or “v2.2”.

These types of changes, updates and rethinks are usually done out of necessity and tend to keep companies on the defensive to make sure their products stay on the market and remain competitive. They show a company being reactive, not necessarily proactive as they’re not ground-breaking innovation, they’re more like necessary ad-hoc tweaks to solve unforeseen problems.

Innovation needs vision

Every good business knows you can’t simply release a product and then tinker with it forever; at some point a radical change based on modern thinking, new tech or evolving tastes will be needed. Sustainable, successful businesses need structured innovation.

Structured innovation can give companies an incredible competitive advantage over their rivals, but it means being proactive, reading the market, identifying gaps and opportunities and focussing on new thinking to have the first successful product on offer. It’s not a small challenge and companies need extremely capable and strong leaders to make it work.

Innovation-focussed leadership needs vision, clarity, strategy of execution and effective communication to ensure the product meets its requirements. Creating structures that allow people to be inventive and challenge long-standing habits or processes needs a steady hand that balances freedom and focus.

Provable skills

Companies that rely on innovation and new thinking need exceptional leadership more than ever, but how do you prove you have the skills? The University of York have created a Masters degree for that exact purpose.

You can now gain an MSc in Innovation, Leadership and Management from a prestigious Russell Group university thanks to a 100% online degree. As all learning materials are delivered online, you can study whenever and wherever it suits you, whether that’s on your lunch break or during evenings and weekends. This means you can keep your current role, apply what you learn and still keep your current pay grade without having to take an extended study break. Each section of the course is pay-per-module to remove large, upfront fees and there are even six start dates spread throughout the year, so you can begin whenever you’re ready.

Innovation is sometimes thought of as a flash of lightning that strikes without warning, but by learning and exercising skills such as effective communication, the ability to objectively approach problems while assessing and creating new solutions and taking charge of progression, you can display the kind of leadership skills that could not only provide a big boost to your career but could also literally enable your company to invent the next big thing.

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Using your Bachelors as a foundation for future learning

While compulsory education now carries on until the late teens, it’s still a commonly-held view that the ‘end goal’ of learning is an undergraduate degree. Holding a BA or BSc is a great achievement that shows the ability to delve deeply and independently into a subject and some companies require a university degree as a pre-requisite for employment.

Businesses value undergraduate studies, viewing them as a commitment to advancement, the ability to work to a certain standard and the ability to adapt to different challenges – which appears to be the case for many students as half of recent graduates go on to work in sectors unrelated to their field of study. This could be down to many reasons; graduates no longer wish to specialise in that particular area; the number of opportunities in certain industries is limited and extremely competitive; or certain degrees don’t have job roles that explicitly link to them.

Although students choose degrees carefully, a lot can change in three years. While getting a BA or BSc after your name shows ability, what do you do if you find yourself with a degree for a sector you no longer wish to work in, or one that doesn’t apply directly to your career progression?

A BA or BSc is not the ‘last stop’

The good news is that undergraduate degrees are not the end of Higher Education – if anything, they’re just the start. While some BA and BSc qualifications directly apply to certain businesses, such as journalism or pharmaceuticals, many companies see them as displaying a certain standard of commitment and ability. There are a huge range of postgraduate options that can not only showcase your intelligence and talent, but can build and supplement the skills gained during undergraduate studies to boost your professional profile.

Many graduates would be very interested in a further course of study that enhances key capabilities and offers a qualification to make them highly desirable to employers, but the time, commitment and expense of staying in education and out of the workplace can make it seem daunting.

Continuing education to further your prospects

With this in mind, the University of York have created three 100% online MSc degrees in Leadership and Management to give you the professional skills you need to succeed without having to sacrifice time away from work. As all learning materials are delivered online, you can study in your spare time, lunch break or weekends; you can stay in your current job and apply what you learn whilst gaining valuable skills and a highly desirable Masters degree.

All courses are delivered on a pay-per-module basis, removing the large, up-front costs usually associated with further study and there are six start dates spread throughout the year, meaning you can begin when you like. You can gain a prestigious Russell Group university degree without taking a costly study break or losing the experience you’d gain with your employer, as well as keeping your salary and pay grade.

Best of all, you can hone vital business skills such as effective communication, critical approaches to problem solving and professional development insight, meaning that as you begin to climb the career ladder, you’ll already be able to demonstrate the skills that companies need from their leaders.

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Shifting your career into a higher gear

When it comes to career progression and moving into leadership, it’s commonly assumed that it happens as a reward for length of service with a company; those who’ve been there the longest are more likely to get a management position. This idea, however, doesn’t take into account what businesses need – or look for – from their leaders and managers.

No company allows unsuitable or unqualified people to take on senior responsibilities, so while management roles may typically be given to longer-serving employees, it’s likely those candidates have spent their time honing and refining their leadership skills and demonstrating their abilities.

Can the timeframe be shortened?

For the average graduate, it takes around 20 years from obtaining a Bachelors degree to taking a leadership role, giving the impression that managers are selected from the ‘time served’ category. The issue for businesses, however, is that global demand for leadership is rising faster than the supply of suitable leaders, giving opportunities to those looking for advancement.

While people think leadership comes with experience, it’s not always the case. Leadership is comprised of unique skillsets which work together on multiple levels. While an experienced member of staff may know what needs to be done in a particular situation, if they fail to communicate this effectively, can’t negotiate with other departments or can’t create innovative solutions to unforeseen problems, they’re not demonstrating good leadership.

No bad habits and proving knowledge

Businesses focus on success, meaning their primary concern is finding the right person to fulfil the role. While longer-serving members of staff may have a history with the company from which to draw examples of leadership ability, with the right qualifications even new members of staff can show they have what it takes.

To this end, the University of York has three Masters degrees in Leadership and Management, giving you the chance to prove your skills. These 100% online MSc courses are a flexible and affordable way to study when it suits you, allowing you to keep your current job without taking study leave and apply what you learn with your current employer. Working through business-critical skills such as effective communication, critical approaches to problem solving and an understanding of professional development, you can start to demonstrate your capabilities right away.

The opportunity to get a degree from a prestigious Russell Group university without taking time away from your career may sound appealing in its own right, but each course is also pay-per-module and has six start dates throughout the year, meaning that there are no large up-front costs and you can begin whenever it suits you. You might also be entitled to a postgraduate loan, backed by the government, to cover your course costs.

Moving into a leadership position and meeting the demands of modern business doesn’t have to be a matter of ‘paying your dues’ – businesses need the right people to perform critical tasks. Younger candidates not only have a longer working life in front of them but may also be better equipped to deal with the technical and innovation challenges currently faced by businesses. With proven leadership abilities, the choice could be simple.

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Skilling up with the right qualifications

The first full-time job out of university is a very special experience for most recent graduates. Having spent several years on their academic studies, as well as tens of thousands of pounds, the first step on the career ladder feels like a watershed moment; a chance to start earning and applying skills that have been hard earned. Whether in a job related to their degree or a completely different field, most can’t wait to get started on career progression.

A difference in expectation

One thing that has become apparent in the last few years is that there is a gulf between the skills that companies need and the skills that recent graduates actually possess. Due to the academic and theoretical nature of many courses, new candidates are far less prepared for the corporate world than business leaders expect them to be. This means time and resources are being diverted from pressing tasks in order to upskill and give new starters a grounding in business.

Communication skills represent one of the key mismatches between graduates’ and employers’ expectations. For businesses to succeed, it’s critical that their employees are able to form professional networks, communicate effectively, progress collective workflows while working through individual tasks and keep all team members up to date to prevent information silos. All of these abilities layer seamlessly to ensure smooth running of the business. Negotiation and persuasiveness are also highly desirable, as is the ability to think creatively around problems and develop innovative solutions to keep workflows progressing.

Proving the difference

For a long time, companies have wanted ‘the right person to hit the ground running’, but with such a mismatch between the skills companies want and the skills graduates have, how do you not only develop the right skillsets but prove to employers that you are exactly what they need?

A potentially very attractive option is the University of York’s suite of Leadership and Management Masters courses. Developed with the world-class academics and professionals, the courses teach business-critical skills such as effective communication, critical approaches to problem solving and insights into professional development. As all teaching is delivered 100% online, you have the freedom to learn when and where you like. There’s no need to give up your current job and salary and you can apply what you learn to your career straight away. Also, as each section is provided on a pay-per-module basis, you can gain a degree from a prestigious Russell Group university without a significant initial financial outlay.

While many recent undergraduates may believe they have the necessary skills to be proficient in the corporate world, it can take several years before they match up to the standards that businesses require. A Masters degree that specialises not only in developing business-critical skills but also embedding effective teamwork and an understanding of leadership and development could soon make you invaluable in the workplace.

Find out more and begin your application

Creating adaptable leadership

In a general ‘person on the street’ sense, leadership is often treated synonymously with management – but in reality, they’re two distinct concepts. This has been taken to heart by the business world over the last few decades, effectively creating a ‘transfer market’ for leaders and managers, with each skillset being prized in its own right.

While at one point, you’d likely have expected to spend your working life with one or two companies, this is no longer the case. The assumption was that industry specific knowledge that gave leaders and managers the ability to do their job was limited to that particular sector. In truth, good leadership skills make leaders valuable in lots of different areas – one of the most famous industry leaps was when Steve Jobs brought John Sculley to Apple from Pepsi Co. John became CEO and oversaw the early golden age of Apple, and their revenues leapt from $569m to over $8.3bn.

Building adaptability into your skillset

We now have a business environment with an open exchange of leadership and, with the right skills, people can move sideways into almost any arena – but it means that adaptability has become essential. No single industry has the perfect ‘one size fits all’ approach to guaranteeing success in any other business, so the ability to read, change, adapt and predict to fit the nuances of a new business is imperative to success.

The good news is that strong leadership principles have the effect of building adaptability, allowing your leadership style to be applied to different arenas. Skills like critical approaches to problem solving result in finding the best and most expedient solution, while the ability to communicate effectively increases the chances of the resolution being successful. Maintaining insight into both personal and project development allow potential complications to be identified early, which can be corrected with critical approaches.

Gaining the right skills

Giving yourself the basis to become an effective leader and open the doors to a whole new career can seem like a daunting task. This is why the University of York has three disciplines of MSc Leadership and Management degrees, to help generate the people that businesses need.

The University of York has applied knowledge from its world-class academics to a 100% online Masters degrees in Innovation, Finance and International Business, allowing you to demonstrate the right skills through a prestigious Russell Group university qualification. As all learning is delivered online, you’re free to study when and where you like, meaning that you can work flexibly around your current role and learn while you earn. Not only do you not need to take a career break, but courses are broken down into a pay-per-module structure, so there’s no large, up-front payments to worry about. There are also six start dates throughout the year, so you can begin as soon as you’re ready.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicts an increase in demand for managers, directors and senior officials of 1.9 million roles by 2024; a flexible approach to a Masters degree could put you ahead as an adaptable business leader of tomorrow.

The digital CFO is a business requirement

Very few people would have ever dared predict the explosion of computing power seen in the last fifteen years. Since the birth of the iPhone in 2007, the amount of data created, transmitted and stored has risen exponentially – we all carry smartphones, each one containing several thousand times more computing power than the four computers that put Apollo 11 on the moon.

An unlikely beneficiary of the leap in digital resources has been the finance department. At one point, their role was purely reactive; they were money-counters, responding to requests for funding. The dawn of big data and real-time updates has made finance a business-critical department for growth and accurate risk management.

How data has changed the role of the CFO

While the internet has created a fast and highly competitive business environment, it’s put new focus on the finance department to manage efficiency. Previously, this involved managing the outgoing expenditure, usually after it had gone out. Companies now need finance – and the leaders of the sector – to use digital technologies to improve planning, assess risk, make efficiency savings and manage expenditure.

This leaves finance leaders needing data at their fingertips and the ability to apply it to all levels, whether it’s company, industry or the whole business world. The growth of cloud solutions has given CFOs a cost-effective way to access scalable computing power without risking investment in expensive servers. Sudden leaps in demand, such as using AI, planning software, analytics or predictive assessment software involve huge amounts of pure ‘thinking’ power but the CFO that can make use of them gives companies a real competitive edge.

The future of finance and computing

The business case for digital finance leaders and CFOs has been made, but many firms still lack suitable people and infrastructure, hampered by legacy systems that limit the ability to update to modern processes. The ability to demonstrate the right skills could be the thing to allow you to take control, update and modernise your entire business, and the University of York has a 100% online MSc in Finance, Leadership and Management that could be a perfect fit.

As all learning is delivered online, it gives the flexibility to study anywhere that suits you and means you don’t need to take a career break to study. Keeping your current salary and being able to apply what you learn removes much of the burden involved in getting the right skills for the next stage of your career. To make this easier, you can also gain a prestigious Russell Group University Masters degree on a pay-per-module basis and there are six start dates spread throughout the year, meaning you can begin when you like.

Being taught by the pioneering academics at the University of York via a completely digital Masters degree gives you the best of all worlds; an ability to showcase the right capabilities, a high level of comfort with digital resources and flexibility to study when it suits you. You could be invaluable as a financial leader of the future.

It’s no surprise ‘change leadership’ is so sought after

The history of the UK has any number of periods of upheaval and disruption, whether you’re talking about the Industrial Revolution, huge cultural shifts like the Swingin’ Sixties or radical changes due to progress in digital technology or transport, they’ve all affected the way in which we live. These changes are a problem for businesses, who delicately balance two extremes; traditionally preferring calm and settled conditions, but also embracing these shifts to gain a competitive advantage.

When ‘business as usual’ will mean no more business

We’ve seen how failure to handle big changes costs companies dearly. Big names such as Maplin and Toys ‘Я’ Us failed to recognise and respond to what customers wanted and literally dwindled away. In the last few years, many businesses have realised it’s better to predict these changes before they arrive, but it’s an extremely difficult task. A further challenge is to effect cultural or operational change at every level, as it can take a long time to not only update systems, operations and software, but also handle the most unpredictable resource a business has – the human element.

Generally speaking, people don’t like change and some resist it entirely. Two phrases specifically are feared by many managers, “But that’s how we’ve always done things” and “What was wrong with the old way?” Companies now recognise that it’s vital to be agile, responsive and seize opportunities to best serve their customers, which is why change leadership has become so prized.

The challenge businesses have to find the right people

The truth is, however, that there’s a shortage of suitable candidates with the right skillset to be effective change leaders and even fewer who can demonstrate their capabilities with the proper qualifications and credentials. This is why we’ve harnessed the world-class expertise and academics available at the University of York to create a range of 100% online Masters degrees in Leadership and Management, giving you the ability to demonstrate your capabilities to solve problems through innovative thought and objectively evaluate ideas.

Skills that you’ll perfect during study include effective communication and critical approaches to problem solving, which are extremely desirable to companies who need high-quality change leadership. The ability to solve a problem, such as adapting to sudden changes in customer behaviour, provides a unique competitive advantage to businesses. Keeping the workforce informed and connected to the wider company strategy and aims is one of the most effective ways to reduce resistance to changes in procedure or culture – and it also reduces the chances of misunderstanding or missing the bigger picture of why the change is necessary.

You’ll receive a top-class MSc from a prestigious Russell Group university, but with the ability to study whenever and wherever you like. As you can learn in your spare time, you don’t have to give up your current role or take a costly career break and we’ve removed large, up-front course fees with a pay-per-module structure. We even provide six start dates throughout the year, meaning you don’t have to wait for a new school year to begin.

While we can be sure that change will continue to be a constant throughout the business world, with the right skillset and qualifications you can not only weather the change, but use it to help your business thrive.

To find out more and apply, simply click here

Innovation could be your own selling point

It’s apparent that businesses have undergone huge shifts in recent years. Technologies that would have been unthinkable fifty years ago are now used without a second thought, everything from Wi-Fi to contactless payments.

This has all been down to a culture of innovation; fostering creative thinking first changed how businesses function, then changed how products were sold and soon after that changed the world. Companies readily recognise that a failure to innovate can even bring down household names such as Blockbuster and Woolworths.

Creative thinking, effective results

Innovation has become something that businesses require at every level; it’s no longer the sole domain of R&D, but instead sits as a need throughout the entire company. When it comes down to it, creativity is required for products, processes, people and procedures, as improvement at any stage yields benefits to business.

Innovation and leadership as a skill set – the ability to take bold steps and build a solid future – has never been more sought after, as the world is in a constant state of rapid change. Businesses need people to hit the ground running with the skills to recognise, nurture and manage innovation from concept all the way through to implementation, keeping teams and even different departments up to date with the processes and goals.

Innovation and leadership

Creating a culture that can rapidly create new concepts and products, as opposed to incrementally improving existing processes, is incredibly attractive to businesses but difficult to implement. Proving this worth to employers can be the key to turbo-charging your career – or even giving you a whole new one!

Our new 100% online MSc in Leadership and Management Innovation was created to do just that. We have taken the world-class knowledge and facilities available at the University of York and applied them to a Masters degree, allowing you to study at a prestigious Russell Group university at your leisure – anytime, anywhere.

Innovative thinking, flexible learning

Our MSc in Innovation, Leadership and Management gives you the key skills that businesses need. Critical approaches to problem solving, effective communication, insight into professional development and even innovation management give you the tools to succeed in challenging environments. Proving your abilities with a top-class Masters from a Russell Group university could really set you ahead of the crowd.

As our Masters degree in Innovation Leadership is delivered entirely online, you can connect and learn whenever and wherever you like, meaning you can study around your current job without having to take an extended and costly career break. We also offer six start dates spread throughout the year, working pay-per-module, so you can start when you like and get a prestigious Russell Group degree without large, up-front costs! Keeping your salary and making bite-sized payments makes undertaking a Masters degree much more attractive.

The modern way

Conditions are still difficult for business, whether those global causes have been financial, political or even environmental and companies know it’s not good enough to say “But that’s how we’ve always done things”. Innovation is at the top of the list and a top-class Masters that doesn’t strain your time or your finances could soon make you the top of the list for your dream job.

To begin your application, find out more and apply, simply click here

The importance of understanding human behaviour for leadership

Whereas once upon a time, the sum total of leadership was the power to instruct others without question, the world has thankfully moved on from such feudal structures. The ability to guide a workforce, keeping employees engaged, motivated and committed is prized by businesses as one of the highest skillsets managers can hold.

It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century that understanding great numbers of workers was required. Previous cottage industries were made up of families or tiny groups, but a mass workforce quickly became viewed in the same light as any other large, moving machine made up of intricate, individual parts.

Understanding the mechanics of groups

Modern businesses fully understand that employees are a valuable resource that can suffer dramatic dips in performance if not treated correctly. Creating engagement, commitment and drive for peak performance requires in depth knowledge of both the practical aspects of human behaviour as well as behaviour management theory.

The ability of any company to thrive relies on not only keeping customers happy, but also maintaining employee satisfaction levels. Communication between managers and individuals, teams and even entire departments is critical to success, and being able to inspire and coach employees as well as taking a critical approach to problems within the framework of HR can have a profound effect on unity and engagement.

The competitive edge of employee insight

The ability to guide employees creates a distinct business advantage, but with the global workforce expanding at an incredible rate, companies need management with knowledge of practical and theoretical aspects of HR and international business to hit the ground running. Having an immediate effect on company culture not only boosts departmental performance, but the success of entire businesses.

Modern companies can also be spread across great distances and even time zones; the ability to manage and co-ordinate large, diverse groups spread across different locations can put your company one step ahead of the competition. As new candidates enter the work force, the need for effective leadership grows; particularly as digital work paths and decentralised businesses become more common. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicts that 1.9 million more managers will be required by 2024.

The new MSc International Business, Leadership and Management Online from the University of York is the perfect path to getting the credentials to deal with this modern way of business thinking. All course content is delivered 100% online, letting you choose when and where you study, meaning you can continue in your current job role and apply the principles as you learn. We also offer six start dates per year and courses are pay-per-module, removing the burden of large, up-front payments. The ability to study for a prestigious Russell Group University Masters from anywhere in the world could be the very thing to turbo-charge your career!

The human resource is one of the most diverse, unpredictable and complex that any business has, but it’s also the one that has the greatest effect on not only the success of a company, but its very survival. A proven knowledge of leadership techniques, understanding of the challenges of HR and the ability to communicate effectively with insight into how employees will respond is what sets good businesses apart from universally successful ones.

Find out more – and begin your application

Successful financial management needs strong leadership

While at one point, the company CEO would have been expected to work most closely with the Managing Director, in recent years the Chief Financial Officer has become regarded as the CEO’s ‘right hand’. Tough business conditions, rapid change in how business is done and difficult sales environments mean that Finance isn’t just numbers; Finance officers carry company-wide influence on everything, whether it’s sales, expenses, operations or organisational behaviour.

The ability of strong financial leadership in assessing risk, predicting financial outcomes and taking a critical approach to solving problems, all whilst protecting firms from overexpansion or overspend has greatly increased the influence of financial professionals.

A head for numbers is a head for success

It’s possible that finance is still regarded in some sectors as ‘bean counting’ but the days of ready credit and easy cash flow are long gone for most businesses. Companies must predict and respond to threats and changes more readily than ever before and good financial leadership that can assess, address and mitigate risk is a must for keeping a healthy bottom line.

Good financial thinking is at the top of business concerns; everything from regulatory introduction, legal compliance and even financial downturns can present a complex problem that needs to be gotten ahead of and handled. Businesses are no longer insular; global markets and international politics can throw up complicated situations that businesses must effectively manage to ensure smooth running.

People affect finance, too

Employees are the most valuable yet unpredictable resource that many businesses have and often represent their greatest finance concern. Involving finance in the strategic thinking behind updating and changing organisations and their structure, or even updating operations to run more efficiently can see finance professionals working closely with HR and IT. This means effective communication is incredibly important; sharing the vision and aims increases the effectiveness of any changes and preventing information silos greatly raises the chances of success.

Companies are now looking for professionals with this knowledge of the modern business world to hit the ground running and take control. Our MSc Finance, Leadership and Management equips you with all the skills that businesses want from their Finance Officers, delivered 100% online to allow you to study when and where it suits you. With six course start dates per year and the ability to pay-per-module, you can keep your current role and apply what you learn without having to take a career break to study, or make large up-front payments. A Masters degree from a prestigious Russell Group university, based on the world-class academics at the University of York is highly desirable by employers!

Modern Finance managers know and work closely with every department, whether it’s IT, HR or Sales. While finance has a reputation for being very complex, the skills you learn to work in unison can mean other departments not only appreciate how important the Finance Department is, but by working together how much more successful the company as a whole can be.

Find out more and begin your application