Away Day with Oxford University Press

by Gina Willis

On Friday 7 October 2016 fifteen MA Publishing students from Oxford Brookes University joined Oxford University Press staff from the global academic stock planning department for their annual away day. The aim of the day was to experience a modern concept of managerial training known as ‘Reverse Mentoring’, which involves the senior members of the group, (the OUP professionals) learning from the junior members of the group, (the students). This was implemented by splitting students and employees into five groups each being given a task.

Group 1 - Made up of just OUP employees

Task: Design, perform market research and financially plan a book for dolphins.

Group 2 – Made up of just students

Task: Design, perform market research and financially plan a book for dolphins.

Group 3 – Made of both OUP employees and students, project led by the seniors.

Task: Design a workable floor plan for an Ice Cream production and tasting office.

Group 4 – Made up of both OUP employees and students, project led by the juniors.

Task: Design a workable floor plan for an Ice Cream production and tasting office.

Group 5 – Made up of both OUP employees and students to work together equally.

Task: Design a workable method of showing an alien how to create the perfect full English breakfast.

We then spent the rest of the morning working hard in our groups to find ways to complete these brilliantly strange projects. In the afternoon we presented our ideas back to the rest of the groups to show everyone how we had made these projects into wonderfully complex realities. We had discussions about the needs of a dolphin mother, the feasibility of jigsaw shaped desks to improve work ethics, and great debate over the time it took to fry an egg in relation to One Direction songs. It was a lot of fun! The winning group (mine, obviously) was strangely the student-only group with a book for dolphin children (or, ‘dolphlets’) about safety in the sea. We even got trophies.

The day ended with a long discussion about what we had all learned as a group and how our findings of ‘reverse mentoring’ could relate back to the office environment. Although there were many differences in the ways that the juniors and the seniors worked, there were also a lot of surprising similarities. It ended with a beautifully well-spoken speech from our own Simon Phillimore who reminded us that although we are all different, “We are all still human beings, with hopes and dreams.” Thanks again, Simon.

I’d like to take this opportunity to again thank Lois Ilbery and the rest of the backlist production team at OUP for a fantastic day.  We hope you enjoyed it as much as us.

A response from the OUP team:

We really valued the energy and insight you brought to the projects and whilst your taste in music remains questionable (One Direction?), your inventiveness is impressive (‘dolphlet’ – a new entry for the OED),  and you gave us much to debate with your suggestion of gender-neutral toilets (pros and cons).   We were impressed with the thoroughness of your research, the confidence with which the projects were presented and the enthusiasm shown throughout.   We also appreciated your eagerness to help with the entire day, not just participating in the project but assisting in setting-up at the start of the session and clearing-up at the finish.

Edited by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 25 Oct 2016 around 6pm