Sunday, 7 October 2012

Teaching students how to learn - a day at Bloomberg

I attended a Bloomberg symposium at their headquarters in Finsbury Square, London on Thursday 20th September. Due to the role I do I need to be able to support my Economics & Finance students in accessing financial data so I thought this might be useful.

I arrived in time for breakfast at 8am at the very swanky premises - there was already a buzz and even the vast tanks of tropical fish seemed to be animated. This might have had something to do with the amount of neon and fluorescence in the building though. I didn't take any photos as I didn't want to risk being floored by the security guards, of which there were many.

There were a range of speakers including those who worked for Bloomberg, city recruitment companies and academics. The audience was a range of economics and business lecturers with a few careers officers and a smattering of librarians.  

I didn't really know what to expect from the day, thinking perhaps it would be either a training session or a big sales pitch. It was mainly the latter with some discussion about the nature of education thrown in for good measure.

Richard Hong from Bloomberg started the program off by announcing that in the last twelve months ten UK universities had subscribed to Bloomberg with a total of 108 terminals and that despite being asked for simulated material to help train students he was instead offering the real thing. They have started offering more training to universities and are currently rolling out a Bloomberg aptitude test. I found out my institution already delivers this so I am currently trying to find out a bit more about the process.

Throughout the day, we listened to a speech about the purpose of higher education, given an overview of the Bloomberg terminals, told about the Bloomberg Aptitude Test and Bloomberg’s recruitment policy but the most interesting element turned out to be a panel discussion which started off by looking at what companies looked for in students when recruiting to the differences in UK and US higher education systems.

 The main points I took away from it were: 

·         Bloomberg is seen as the 'Microsoft office ' of financial professionals' so it is expected that students have some knowledge of it

·         Universities are still expected to teach students how to learn, to subject arguments to intellectual rigour, to use context, self-management and professional communication & etiquette - if universities do this then the industry will teach them the technical skills

·         The company has a flat structure with no handholding so workers are expected to use their initiative – we should therefore be encouraging this in our students

·         Enthusiasm, talent and hard work will prepare you for most things in life, including the workplace. When thinking about teaching employability skills staff should bear this in mind.

 My yoga teacher used to say "we are all human beings not human doings" and at the event I heard that phrase from someone I least expected - an economist! Something to remember…


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