MBA students learn high flying strategy on visit to British Airways HQ

A group of current MBA students recently visited the British Airways global Headquarters as part of the Business Life Employability Programme of Brunel Business School. The visit was organised by Dr. Aida Haijro of the Business School. The aim of the visit was to gain a detailed insight into the history and the future challenges facing this leading player in the aviation industry.

British Airways HQ

The British Airways HQ at Waterside is a series of buildings joined together by a glass roof and a few interconnecting walkways to form a complex which has a large enclosed public area. The BA compound included a water feature resembling a running stream, a mini supermarket, and a coffee shop with people on the terrace either sitting on their own with laptops or discussing in small groups. If it’s not for the ubiquitous aviation-themed sculptures and the occasional groups of crew and pilots in uniform walking past, it could be mistaken a mini indoor city rather than a corporate head office.

After a short welcome session students visited the Heritage Centre and were introduced to the fascinating history of British Airways which can be traced back to the early 20th century when civil aviation began. The years that followed saw many changes to the company both in terms of its organisational structure and its aircrafts. Students particularly enjoyed listening to stories about the Concorde, its supersonic glory and the unfortunate end to its legacy.

With an idea of the history of the company in mind, students listened intently to the presentation on British Airways business plan and strategies for delivering its vision for the future: “to be the most admired airline across the world’s key cities.” There was plenty of emphasis on improving the BA brand and further developing customer loyalty.
The presentation was followed by a visit to the Operation Crisis Control Centre (OCIC). The OCIC is a large oval shaped room with two rows of curved tables surrounding a long straight table at the centre, behind which are a few large screens used to show presentations or live camera feeds. It is a location where various departmental Heads of British Airways come together during an emergency to coordinate responses, recovery actions and resources. Answers to questions such as the different types of crises that tend to arise and how they are dealt with helped students understand the true extent of such complex operations.

Lunch was served during a presentation on learning and development strategy. It is a subject of particular interest to students on the Brunel MBA Programme as Brunel Business School is currently collaborating with BA’s HR department on the “Learning Academy” project. It is an initiative that aims to replace training with self-initiated learning as the first step on a journey to becoming a learning organisation. The presentation itself gave students a broad understanding of the project and the Q&A session that followed helped to clarify certain key concepts and approaches. The visit finished in the early afternoon.

Some of our MBA students in British Airways HQ

Students agreed that the trip was extremely interesting and beneficial, particularly for those who have chosen to specialise in Aviation Management.  It has given our students an unprecedented insight into the past, present and future of the aviation giant. Understandably, with increasingly intensified global competition in the market, the future is uncertain, but it is satisfying to know that continued efforts have been made to ensure the organisation stays competitive in the future.

The report has been provided by Xiaolei Guo and Elizabeth Huang, Brunel MBA students.

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