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Interview with Dr. Steve Smithson

During the Business Informatics Open Day 2018 Dr Steve Smithson1 shared with us his ideas on the new parallel degree programme.

Everyone talks about digital innovation nowadays, we all see it in B2C products and services, is the scale of change that significant on the enterprise side?

Yes, definitely. Digital innovation has already required companies to make significant changes in how they operate and do business, and the pace of change in this area shows no signs of diminishing. The only constant here is change.

Digital innovation affects all areas of business, from staff recruitment and organisational culture to the fundamentals of their organisational processes and operating models. At its core, it offers a powerful set of tools to deliver efficiency gains and to enhance the customer experience.

It also poses fundamental challenges to how traditional businesses operate, with many concerned that they will lose market share to digitally agile companies, like Amazon or Google. And so there is an increasing need for graduates who have the skills and knowledge to help businesses navigate the complex and changing business environment successfully.

What are the distinctive features of the new programme? How does it stand out from programmes in general management, IS management and computer science?

This programme has a number of distinctive features. Right from the first year2, it puts digital innovation on an equal footing with (general) management throughout the programme. This is why the Digital Infrastructures course is a core module in the first year. This enables students to gain a deeper and more specialist understanding of the topics than is normally possible at undergraduate level.

It has been purposely designed to be a forward-looking, leading edge programme and my colleagues and I will monitor it closely so it continues to reflect the very latest research being conducted here at LSE.

Unlike computer science programmes, which focus on the technicalities of hardware and programming, the BSc Management and Digital Innovation focuses on the application and management of the technologies in organisations. Students will graduate with high level analytical and problem-solving skills, which are in high demand from recruiting organisations.

Lastly, but importantly, the programme adopts an international perspective from the outset. Students will develop a thorough understanding of management, based on the social sciences, which will equip them to apply for further study or for graduate jobs at companies anywhere in the world.

What is the role of LSE and UoL in the parallel degree format?

The London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of London (UoL) have different roles on this programme. The UoL is the awarding body for the degrees, while the LSE provides the academic direction for the programme.

Academic direction means that a team of LSE academics set the curriculum, and write the study guides and many of the materials that you will learn from. For this degree programme, I work closely with my colleagues Professor Jannis Kallinikos and Dr Antonio Cordella to do this. We also set and mark the examination papers, and determine student progression through the degree, applying the same rigorous and high standards as we do on campus at LSE. This means that when you put your degree award on your CV, employers will recognise it as a significant academic achievement and a true badge of quality.

What are the career prospects for the programme graduates?

There are a wide variety of career opportunities for graduates studying BSc Management and Digital Innovation. Our graduates have gone on to roles in digital innovation and transformation, in general management, and fields such as finance or marketing. To give some specifics, job titles on our graduate survey included: Digital Projects Coordinator, Transactions Analyst, Systems Analyst, Digital Innovation Project Manager and Transformation Manager.

Today, graduates from this programme are working in organisations ranging from large companies like Barclays or Deloitte to INGOs like the UN. Increasingly, many are also choosing an entrepreneurial route and many are starting their own businesses and enterprises. 

How will the UoL degree help me in my further education?

The UoL degree will equip you with the skills you need to pursue post-graduate education in Russia and at many universities around the world. We have a strong track record of students choosing to apply to LSE for Masters level study, and our graduates have also gone on to other leading universities in the UK and further afield.

If you are considering making an application to study at LSE, then our postgraduate admissions team would be very pleased to hear from you. Dr Efremov will be able to put you in touch with them.

What is the current worldwide coverage of the MDI programme?

The BSc Management and Digital Innovation is currently studied by students at teaching centres in Peru, Malta, Kosovo, China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. As it is a new programme, we expect this list to grow significantly in the coming years. 

1. Dr Steve Smithson is the programme convenor at the London School of Economics

2. The parallel degree format applies a one year shift compared to the UK 3-year BSc degree. The first year, which Dr Smithson mentions in his interview is, in fact, the second year of the 4-year parallel degree format.