As some of you know, I have been hosting a podcast series where I interview students and alums about topical business issues. This started as a personal hobby earlier in the year because I realised how fascinating the stories of our alums and students were. I am sure that MBAs in other schools have great stories as well but I was very dissatisfied with the way many schools approach this. They usually just have a text story that more often than not, is a thinly disguised attempt to sell their MBA.
There is nothing wrong with selling the MBA. That’s what I am paid to do. But I strongly felt that if you adopt as a starting point, the idea of selling the MBA, you fail to convey the richness of the accomplishments of students and alumni. So, I started with people who were just interesting to me and now the podcast series has expanded to include people outside the CJBS community, but who are interesting to our students and alums.
I wanted to feature two of these podcasts. The first is an interview that I did several months ago with a VP in Waze, which is an Israeli company that pioneered social navigation. Since that interview, Waze has been acquired by Google for a price of about $1bn. What I loved about this interview was how my view of Waze changed from an app company to a big data company whose core competency is building communities.
The second interview is a more recent one with the Director of Community Engagement of Ushahidi, a non-profit tech startup from Africa that has developed an open-source platform to help organisations crowdsource information and visualise that on maps. I love this interview because of the infectious personality of Heather Leson, but also how she showed the great power of technology and sound business plans when applied to social issues.
Both podcasts highlight the power of maps and networks. And it was also through the power of networks that I managed to secure those two interviews. I reached out to an employee of waze who happens to follow @CambridgeMBA on twitter. A candidate who will be joining MBA2013 told me about Ushahidi during an interview day dinner that I hosted. I am indebted to both of these people for showing me these two great companies and I hope other people will give me pointers about great companies and people to feature in future podcasts.