This series will shine a light on the faculty behind the Henley Executive MBA. The people teaching, leading and convening on each module bring experience not only from their academic experience and extensive research, but from real-world business too.
Dr Chris Dalton is Associate Professor of Management Learning, and the module convener for Personal Development. This module is thought to be one of the most transformative, as it focuses on self-awareness about personal values, beliefs, capabilities, motivations and approaches to learning, and is a catalyst for reflection on learning from all other modules and aspects of the MBA.
Where did you study and work before coming to Henley?
The study part is easy – I was an MBA student at Henley! I completed my degree between 1995 and 1999. Before coming to work at the School in 2005, I was working at the business school of the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.
What areas of research do you focus on and why?
I explore the fields of personal development, self-awareness, and leadership. I do this because Henley naturally provides such a rich source of experiences and ideas to challenge thinking and foster deep learning and development. The instinct to involve the whole of the person in the search for better questions in the field of management and business is one of the most distinctive traits of Henley.
What module do you teach and what do you hope the cohort take away from it?
I teach, or rather facilitate, Personal Development, which is a core module and the only subject present in all three stages of the MBA. I don’t have to hope, I know that the cohort will find something useful in the subject and the time spent on reflection and sense-making. What I don’t know is exactly what each person will find, or how they will change; just that they will.
Why would you recommend doing an MBA at Henley?
There’s something about that cattle grid! Coming to Henley is like coming home. The odd thing is that this feeling can be present even on your first visit. It’s the spaces between that create the possibility for a whole that is greater than any sum of its parts, and I recommend the school as being one of a very select group of Executive centres of learning where this sort of deeper learning and education is possible.
What do you think we should expect from the future of business and work?
Challenges! It is in the nature of the world that it is on the move, and when pushed to its limits it will respond with even greater challenges. Success is always the goal, and it’s always illusory, so what we are left with is the need to be prepared for the unpredictable. There are some important conversations to be had, around fairness and justice, around sustainability and growth, around technology and wealth, and around health and well-being.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
It would have to be Gregory Bateson.
Bateson was a British anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and cyberneticist who made significant contributions to the fields of anthropology, psychology, and communication theory. He was also interested in the ways in which communication and social systems are interconnected. In addition to his contributions to the social sciences, Bateson was also a pioneer in the field of systems thinking, which seeks to understand complex systems by examining the relationships between their parts. I studied his work closely for my PhD.