Five minutes with Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins, Director of Community for Strategy, People & Leadership, Cranfield University School of Management

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?

Wow, that’s a big question. Lots of people have had a positive effect on my career, too many to mention here, but my wife has probably been the biggest influence. You need someone to give you some perspective and keep your feet on the ground, she’s good at that!

Mark JenkinsYou’re currently working on the third edition of your book, Performance at the Limit: Business Lessons from Formula 1 Motor Racing. Tell us a little about it.

It’s a real passion for me – I always say life’s too short to spend time on boring things and that’s why I like to use Formula 1 as a basis for learning. It’s so powerful and gets people really engaged and excited in a way that very few other contexts would achieve. The book focuses on what we can learn from F1 and apply to other organisations. I also use the topic much more broadly, for example, I use it a lot in my teaching as well. I also have a related  blog (which I don’t keep as up to date as I should) and a twitter account: @f1professor.

Mark JenkinsYou have also written the bestselling Formula One Constructors case series. What first attracted you to writing about Formula 1?

I used to follow F1 in my early teens, but then lost interest as I got involved in other things. The idea that it would make a great case came to me when I was teaching the strategy course on the MBA at Cranfield some twenty years later; it just struck me as a great way to look at close competition between firms and also how organisations, which appear very similar on the face of it, are actually very different when you look more closely.

You’re a passionate believer in the value of using cases to integrate research and teaching. Can you sum up the benefits for both teachers and students?

For me, it’s about fun, enthusiasm and learning. If you teach your own cases you enjoy it more as you really believe in what you’re talking about, and that inevitably rubs off on the students and the way they experience it, so we both learn. I learn something new every time I teach, either from a reaction or something one of the students has uncovered or know from their own experience.

You run workshops for The Case Centre on teaching and research. What do you find most rewarding about being a case method workshop tutor?

Again, it’s all about learning. Everyone has a different perspective and different experiences. You always get a great mix of people on the workshops and by sharing experiences and ideas we all get to learn and improve the way we use cases

Mark JenkinsIf you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you choose, and why?

Lorry driving. I used to have an HGV class 1 licence, but I let it lapse as the medicals got more expensive and I wasn’t using it – not much call for it at Cranfield! So doing a bit of trucking again would be good fun; if it was an F1 transporter, even better.

How do you relax?Mark Jenkins

Walking. My wife and I love walking and we’ve done the Great Wall of China and part of the Inca Trail this year. We also like walking around the woods near where we live in Bedfordshire. It’s the best way to relax and also to feel you’ve achieved something.

Mark JenkinsDo you have a favourite inspirational quotation or guiding principle? 

Richard McCracken (Director of The Case Centre) will like this one: I picked up one of these hotel magazines in the USA the other week and this quote from saxophone player, Joshua Redman, just jumped out at me. He was talking about Pat Metheney another musician who had inspired him and it struck me as such a profound thing to say about someone, and it also works for case teachers! This is it:

‘You always got the sense that he was grateful for his opportunities and his audience. He was just a good guy who worked hard and treated people well.’

Mark Jenkins is Director of Community for Strategy, People & Leadership at Cranfield University School of Management. He is one of The Case Centre’s workshop tutors and will be running ‘Aligning Your Teaching & Research: The Potential of Case Studies’ at Rotterdam School of Management, the Netherlands, on 20 January 2016.

His book,Performance at the Limit: Business Lessons from Formula 1 Motor Racing, is available on Amazon.

e mark.jenkins@cranfield.ac.uk
tw @f1professor

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