Back in 2009 I was part of the first cohort of the Saltire Fellowship programme. It was an outstanding experience in my life, and recently I was asked to provide the top three things I thought made the experience worthwhile and different. These are the answers I came up with.
- Learning from Veterans: During my undergraduate degree I was taught by some brilliant people, but the majority worked in universities because they wanted to do research. Some were also excellent and committed teachers, but very few had experience of practising engineering in the real world. The people who teach the Saltire Fellowship at Babson and elsewhere are all veterans of starting, building and growing businesses. They are all teaching from personal experience rather than from a purely theoretical perspective, and they are teaching because they are passionate about passing on their knowledge and experience. Most are all active in a variety of businesses as well as teaching, and I don’t believe any of them needs the money they make from teaching…
- Learning by Doing: The programme is not about sitting in a classroom being spoken at. The programme is about participation and solving problems using the knowledge you are acquiring, so you come out with experience as well as theoretical learning. This ranges from group work in the classroom to consulting projects and placements, but expect to work hard. This is not about sitting taking notes – this is about getting stuck in.
- Building Networks: The professors at Babson become part of your network, as do the rest of your fellowship cohort, other Saltire alumni, and the vast number of people you meet along the way. This network will be invaluable whatever path people choose to follow after completing the fellowship, and is not about a list of e-mail addresses or names on LinkedIn. These are people we can go to and get advice, help, support, inspiration, more contacts… This is a very real network.