As someone who attended Aston Business School, I picked up this book to see what they didn’t teach at Harvard Business School – how different were things across the pond?

I think we were lucky to be made to go on a placement year, you left with your studies and academic knowledge behind you, but you also had practical experience and were better able to fit into management. I also found that our tutorials were very hands on, with simulations and guest lecturers currently working in industry. I didn’t realise at the time how much this would set me in good stead for the future. If anyone is looking to do a course in Business, then I would recommend looking for one practical in nature. The theories can only get you so far.

I’ll be honest and say that I did almost give up on this book, it was slow to start with, and I wasn’t sure what I would learn. I think we can summarise the first few chapters as mind your manners. McCormack draws on his experience to illustrate his points, pretty much every one, at times these can feel more like name dropping than useful examples but there are times when they do illustrate the point in an interesting manner.

There is a useful section on selling and negotiation, so put those textbooks to one side and learn some practical pointers. I think this section would be particularly useful to those who haven’t worked in sales before, and perhaps lack confidence in negotiations. Although to get the most out of this section I think you have to be honest with yourself, about who you are, the mistakes you’ve made, and the strengths you have. But then, on a personal note, I think that’s true throughout life, you can’t really change (or develop) without first being honest.

The final chapter which is written for entrepreneurs is a useful read. Depending on where you are in life, you might want to read this chapter first and then hop back to the start and go from there. The final chapter prompts you to consider your position and your motivations; then gives helpful tips on getting started.

I would recommend this book to anyone who didn’t do a business degree and is thinking of setting up on their own, as well as to anyone entering their placement year or applying for graduate programmes. And, if you’re prepared to be honest with yourself, those of you stuck in middle management who are yearning for more.

There are currently 8 copies of this edition available in the Surrey County Council Libraries network.

 

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