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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

It's become a leadership cliché that we're living in volatile and uncertain times, so I was pleased to interview Tawfik Jelassi, now a professor at IMD, who really has led through turbulent times. That is the title of a course he teaches, drawing on his experience as minister of higher education in Tunisia's 2014-15 technocratic government. It's a job he was offered out of the blue, from the country’s prime minister at the time, when Mr Jelassi was happily running a Paris management school and came with the promise of little pay, much hard work and some physical peril.

My challenge this week is for you to draw one corporate or business lesson from the leadership experience of a president, prime minister or senior political official. For instance, what do Donald Trump's first weeks in office teach about how to build a brand, or how does Angela Merkel's refugee policy expose the tension between personal values and team performance? The more practical, and concise, the better. Send your ideas to bschool@ft.com.

Last week, I asked you to come up with a three-sentence strategy statement for restoring the original excitement to The Body Shop brand.

Thank you for all your ideas. I liked Georgina Wiseman's emphasis on bringing back the younger consumer with "clearer USPs and rebranded packaging", but Matt Sisson is this week's winner with this idea:

"It should streamline by closing its worst-performing stores, and introduce a subscription-based 'membership' model, with a heavy rebranding aimed at the savvy 18-34 market. This model would emphasise the brand's ethical values and connections, while offering heavy discounts for sharing and introducing friends. The ethical subscription should retain its older, original customers, with the younger rebrand and sharing-for-discounts bringing in new, younger customers."

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Angel Saz Carranza, director of the Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics at Esade, recommends:

An optimist’s view of 2017 Against a landscape of widespread pessimism, this article offers a counterbalance. Nick Butler describes possible black swan events in the energy sector that could have a positive impact.This article broadens possible scenarios which we should not dismiss in such a volatile world.

Transition: the reshaping of the energy landscape I recommend this article to the students of my Geopolitics course on the Esade’s MSc in International Management, because it captures very clearly the three major transitions taking place in the global energy landscape: the move from fossil fuels to low-carbon sources; the growth in energy consumption will come from Asia; the technological developments transforming the industry.

The geopolitics of energy is slowly moving from petroleum politics towards climate and trade negotiations. Nick Butler sheds light on the trends and complexities of the energy sector.

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

MBA students are well known for aiming high. Ian Wylie has been meeting some of those who are shooting for the moon, taking jobs with companies in the space industry. It is a reflection of the variety of companies that now employ high flyers from business school campuses and the mixture of options available to MBA graduates.

For further reading, I recommend an opinion piece from Garland Tucker, chairman of Triangle Capital Corporation, on the perils of universities erasing historical links with controversial figures, notably Yale’s recent decision to rename its Calhoun College because of the statesman after whom it was named called slavery "a positive good". Mr Tucker notes: "There is something useful in knowing that our forerunners were capable not only of great achievements, but also evil." 

Test your knowledge

How good is your grasp of the news? Test your reading of last week's top stories with the FirstFT quiz.

Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan

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