Mark Spring speaks to MBA students - April 2012

Mark Spring April 09, 2012 : 0

Recently, I was invited to be speak to a class of AUT University students taking the MBA Entrepreneurship paper. Having completed an MBA myself back in 2003, I was quite interested to see how, if at all, things have changed. Notwithstanding the fact that being up front of the class instead of in it was a stark reminder of how quickly the years advance on us, it was a real honour to be invited.

For AUT, the MBA Entrepreneurship paper is the flagship paper. This is a very practical, interactive paper in which students go through the experience of ideas generation, coming up with an enterprise idea, testing its feasibility, creating a business case to launch it then presenting it in a “Dragon’s Den” style format.

The theme I was asked to explore was “Operational Challenges” that could be encountered when running a new enterprise. I was able to discuss my background, including the reinvention of DTR and then I worked with groups of students to discuss and resolve typical operational issues that could be encountered. The take-out from many of those discussions centred around the fact that many of which appear on the surface to be operational challenges, are actually just symptoms of wider cultural challenges, and that their efforts as emerging leaders need to be focused there.

You might be surprised to learn that many are not motivated by money, but by a desire to create something they can be proud of, or to simply embark on a great adventure. Whatever you want in life (and wanting money is fine too), I recommend you go beyond what you think you’re capable of. You may not reach your goal every time, but that’s not the point. The point is to live life to the full. If you’re not doing that, what are you doing?

“Mark’s style was straight talking, amusingly dry, highly entertaining and interactive. The students enjoyed hearing about the operational challenges and how they were addressed. Mark has completed an MBA himself so is a great role model. Students love hearing from “real” people who have been there, done that.


The obvious success of DTR and the re-creation of a business model was enlightening. Mark detailed a number of issues DTR was confronting and then, once the students had diagnosed them, explained the solution he deployed. The big “take out” was the extent to which human interactions and people focused issues determine the “culture” and effectiveness of an enterprise.”
- Russell Ness, Entrepreneurship Programme Coordinator

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