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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Hill's challenge
The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.
Information technology projects typically overrun their budget by more than a quarter, according to research I write about in my column this week, in the wake of British Airways’ IT meltdown. Worse, one in six come in at three times their projected cost and take 70 per cent longer than expected to complete.
How should companies mitigate the risk of big IT projects? My challenge this week is to suggest one way to improve management of technology projects. How about taking responsibility to board level, breaking projects down into smaller chunks (at the risk of creating more complexity) or something different? Send your thoughts to email@example.com.
Many of you rose to last week's challenge to come up with fiction recommendations for brain-dead bosses. On your reading list, among others: George Orwell's Animal Farm, Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Mohsin Hamed's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (whose business lessons were also illuminated by colleague Michael Skapinker last year), and two recommendations for William Golding, for Lord of The Flies and The Inheritors.
My favourites, though, because they made me smile, were Allegre Hadida's pitch for Goscinny and Uderzo's Obelix & Co ("40-odd pages of sheer strategy delight!") and Heather Wade's recommendation of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte: "One of many management/business lessons it teaches is simple but easily forgotten — know your value! Also, always try to meet your ultimate boss before accepting a job."
That is more than enough reading matter, but if you are looking for more, try this worrying research from Berkeley's Haas School of Business about whether nationality causes bias in hiring decisions. Professor Ming Leung found that your chances of getting a job may be affected negatively by the poor impression of your nationality left by your underperforming compatriots. "One negative experience can dramatically alter an employer’s beliefs," he said. "However, the study implies that nationality profiling in the hiring process potentially hurts employers, too, because they may lose out on good talent.”
Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.
Global alert to prepare for fresh cyber-attacks The ransomware attack in May 2017, which crippled more than 230,000 computers worldwide including the UK’s National Health Service, has brought the issue of cybersecurity to the forefront of corporate leadership.
This article highlights that cybersecurity is a board-level topic not just an issue for technical teams. Developing secure IT systems and networks requires continuous attention, and will outlive current executives. All business school students should be developing a strong awareness of cybercrime and how industries can defend themselves from it.
June rate rise odds jump to 94% after Fed meetingAt its May 2-3 meeting, the Fed did not hike its discount rate to avoid further pressure on economic activity. Many market analysts focus on changes in policy interest rates because they can induce changes in exchange rates and investment spending by companies. But we should pay attention to balance sheet changes, because more market analysts believe the Fed’s balance sheet is overextended and should be reduced to a more ‘normal’ level.
Fed sees economic slowdown as temporaryIt is crucial for companies — and business students — to get an idea of exchange rate movements. These trigger alterations in the competitiveness of exports and imports, and change the valuation of assets denominated in foreign currencies.
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Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan