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The Paris City Challenge

Meeting the Challenge!

Having recently joined Transocean I wanted to bring the Legal, Compliance and Corporate Secretarial team together all lawyers and start the process for developing a truly global team.

I wanted a conference that was a lot more than PowerPoint presentations but something that generated energy and creativity. I wanted a conference that would help people get to know each other, build the team, be highly enjoyable and also provide learning about group dynamics, leadership, communication styles and working with diversity. Having used City Challenge some years before in a similar situation, it was an easy decision to turn to them again, but this time in Paris!

The event exceeded all our expectations, which were high anyway. Jane and her colleagues brought a high degree of professionalism and attention to detail and all the participants had fun, learnt about themselves and others and felt engaged and challenged.

I was particularly impressed by the meticulous organisation and the quality of questions. The Paris Challenge set exactly the right tone and atmosphere on which to build the conference around.

It was a real delight working with Jane and her team; their warmth, good humour, expertise and professionalism make them a first class organisation and one that I highly recommend.

Nick Deeming
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
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Youth Leaders International

Jane has provided excellent services for our staff and students at Youth Leaders International since the summer of 2003. Each year I know I can count on her for fast response to our changing needs. She has always been available via email or phone call with my YLI related questions or concerns with lightening speed. I have come to think of Jane as a friend as well as a service provider. She has always seen that YLI has had the best of her staff from City Challenge when we have our Global Programs in the UK. I have never been disappointed.

Neal F Jarvis
Global Programme Liaison
Youth Leaders International
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The Bath Challenge

We at Shian are a small housing association based in Hackney. Some of our team were not keen on the idea of travelling to Bath for the team building exercise and were even less pleased when we got the weather report.

We were split into two groups and as per usual the competitiveness took over when we were split into teams. In the morning session some of the group headed straight into the challenge, by the time of the afternoon session a lot of staff realised where they had gone wrong. With guidance and encouragement from the great facilitator we managed to complete the session, ignoring the pouring rain, and thoroughly enjoying the day.

We are now working even better as a team and have learnt a lot about our strengths and weaknesses. If anyone is considering team building we highly recommend the City Challenge.

Karen Lindsay
Senior Team Administrator
Shian Housing Association
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The London Challenge

This is the second occasion that I've used City Challenge. The first City Challenge event in Oxford generated such positive feedback from our UK consultants that I asked Jane and team to organise a similar event in London for our entire EMEA Consulting and Education team. Once again, City Challenge constructed a team exercise that taught our consultants a lot about teamwork and planning, whilst giving them an opportunity to explore some parts of the City that even those of us living in London were not familiar with! If you are looking for a team-building event that is supremely well organised, challenging, a little bit different, and a lot of fun then City Challenge should be high on your shortlist...

Alan Webber
Regional Director, Consulting Services Northern Europe
Citrix Systems
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Zurich International Solutions
The Brussels Challenge

On behalf of Zurich International, I wish to congratulate Jane and her team on the fantastic event that is the City Challenge. We elected to run the concept in Brussels with a group of 23 locals and visitors and the results were outstanding. A very slick operation, City Challenge delivered all that was promised and bonding, closer relationships, problem solving skills, managing different personalities, and fun!

Professional and organised, City Challenge made what could be a difficult and chaotic experience completely stress free and enjoyable. We are thrilled with the initial results and will undoubtedly look to use this event again in one of the many locations offered by City Challenge.

Bronwyn Shanks
Sales Manager - Central Europe
Zurich International Solutions
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United Kingdom Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council
The Brussels Challenge

I am writing to thank you and your team for what was an excellent event. It was a well-researched and well-organised day. We were able to meet all our objectives. We were able to enhance cohesion between teams and between MOD, FCO and Military sides of the Delegation and have some fun too!

Stewart Eldon
United Kingdom Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council
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Environment Agency
The Oxford Challenge

Challenge Dynamic

I am writing on behalf of Groundwater, Hydrology and Contaminated Land (Downs and Chilterns) team to thank you and Nicki Lecky-Thompson for our excellent team building event delivered by City Challenge on 21 February 2007.

Our experience of Challenge Dynamic was very enjoyable. Great fun, very rewarding and given the fantastic location, inspiring and most informative. However, most importantly the event enable us to get to know each other better and to gain a better understanding and appreciation of our personal and team's strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, we can activity use and take forward the experience gained from the challenge and your subsequent feedback into our working environment.

Once again I would like to thank you for your efforts in the delivery of an excellent and successful team building event.

Emma Cross and Kate Bourlakis
Environment Agency
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City of London Challenge

Challenge Interactive

I am writing to thank you again for the important role you and the rest of the City Challenge team played in making our global conference such a success.

I expected the City Challenge exercise to be very well received from my prior experience. But you probably would not be surprised to hear that some on my team were more skeptical when they first heard our plans to include The City Challenge in our conference plan. Like many professionals, they generally approach team-building exercises with skepticism or even trepidation.

For this reason, it was satisfying when I met with my leadership team to evaluate the conference and many remarked on how much they and their teams enjoyed and appreciated the value of the City Challenge exercise. To a person, they felt that it really helped develop relationships amongst our diverse team members from the very outset - which was one of our most critical objectives for the conference. And the opportunity for people to learn and see the truly notable sites in the City of London was a real bonus for everyone.

Please extend our thanks also to your team of facilitators, who did a great job keeping teams not only on task, but also in tune with the fun and collaborative spirit of the exercise. All of you helped ensure that we derived maximum value and leanings throughout the exercise, for which we are very grateful.

Donna C Boehme
Group Compliance & Ethics Officer
BP plc
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The Bath City Challenge

Challenge Motivate

After two full days of internal meetings, the Bath City Challenge certainly gave our 65 overseas colleagues a 'change of scenery'

Not only did they have the opportunity to discover the beautiful and fascinating city of Bath but it also presented an opportunity for those people who would never usually work together to do so.

It was very interesting to see how each team approached the task and the different personal attributes that each team member contributed. It was a real test of communication, time keeping and planning that was presented in a fun yet challenging way.

We have received lots of positive feedback from the participants and would like to thank Jane and her team for all their hard work in planning the event and for the enthusiasm shown on the day.

Malcolm Crossley
Managing Director
Legris Ltd
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Cambridge Challenge

Challenge InterActive

A worthwhile experience, each member of staff learnt a lot about each other and themselves. It helped people to understand their worth at work more, to challenge assumptions in a positive way, and to stand up for themselves. People, who started the day in a critical way, learnt a great deal and came out having had a positive experience. One or two individuals because of the day are really doing things for themselves and making things happen as never before. The day is still much talked about and the team are continuing to benefit from the experience.

Mr Paul Johnson
Managing Director
Barenbrug (UK) Ltd
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IPT Training - TACAS & IFPA take on Cambridge!

During July the TACAS and IFPA joint integrated project teams undertook an IPT development exercise. As both teams are involved in running Assessment Phases on behalf of UKMOD, and both include staff from external companies as well as other parts of BAE SYSTEMS, the shared training was invaluable for comparing experiences of life behind a firewall. Ian Fuller takes up the story...

"Our unique position brings its own challenges and so we worked with 'City Challenge' to generate a course that would work for us. We met up on a typically overcast Tuesday afternoon and began the challenge. The idea of 'City Challenge' is to use the task of exploring the city to discover aspects about ourselves as individuals and as a group. Marks are awarded for correct answers to the many questions and also for the team's approach to the task and the various 'grenades' that the organisers throw into the scenario. Our first afternoon was spent finding out and sharing exactly what sort of a team we wanted to create in the workplace, and how divergent that picture was from our current position!

We were then given the primary task - "just answer the questions in the booklet". It sounded so simple, just plot the location of the answer to the question on a map, and then read off the answer. Having been split into 2 teams of 8, we spent quite some time locating, planning and organising what paths to take and then happily slipped off for a dinner at Magdalene College secure in the knowledge that tomorrow would be no more than a gentle stroll around town.

Startling Sight! The wonderful plan evaporated as soon as we realised that the distances when walked were further than they looked on a map. Perhaps this could explain why by 10:30 the following morning local residents were treated to the startling sight of 4 blokes running across Midsummer common to try to meet the time targets. Something had gone wrong! Seriously wrong!

The rest of the day was spent trying to coax increasingly tired limbs to speed walk just one more mile. Luckily the slowdown in pace enabled us to truly appreciate the beauty of a city like Cambridge. Cambridge is not all about stuffy old academics and studious undergraduates, it is a vibrant living place where the scientific, intellectual and political wonders of the past are matched only by the future being created in front of your eyes.

The challenge enables you to see and appreciate the amazing history of the city and colleges, and when you consider that for 619 years that people have lived, worked and eaten in the Magdalene College, you gain some small measure of your relative importance in the history of the world.

Having to walk 6 miles at pace was taking a toll of the teams - walking sticks and rest stops were the order of the day, and although we had enjoyed it thoroughly, everyone was pleased to hear the final whistle at 5:15pm.

Sleepy heads: The task was deceptively physical, so much so that the traditional TACAS and IFPA team building, conducted in a curry house that night, saw a sore and tired group of sleepy heads trip off to bed by midnight.

Day three explored how we had worked as a team and as sub-teams. The professional facilitators had accompanied each of the teams and assisted us in gathering and discussing our learning points. A group level wash up session also discussed issues that affect both TACAS and IFPA. A lively and open discussion ensued on some of these meta issues, the close relationship of the Assessment Phase teams ensured people felt secure and confident in speaking out.

City Challenge was a fantastic way to work on our IPT building, a superb opportunity to re-visit one of the most beautiful places on earth and a model example as to what a well organised, safe and productive team building session should be. The JIPT's were especially impressed with the amount of pre-work that went into organising the event, making sure it truly addressed our learning needs.

Feedback from the team included:

"Be prepared to be physically pushed and mentally challenged."

"Learnt lots about team members - self control, motivation and flexibility"

"Excellent facilitators - tailored correctly for us. Not the usual development cliches fed to us"

"A good team building experience that I would recommend to the other IPT's within the Business."

"Take comfy shoes!"

Ian Fuller,
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The Oxford Challenge

Meeting the Challenge!

Our challenge was to find a way to get a four day global conference off to a great start! The 40 participants were a high powered group of BOC businessmen and women from around the world - corporate lawyers, intellectual property experts and company secretarial specialists.

We wanted an event that would help people get to know each other, build the team, be highly enjoyable and also provide learning about group dynamics, leadership, communication styles and working with diversity. It was the first time we had used the Oxford Challenge and a lot depended on it being very successful!

The event exceeded all our expectations, which were high anyway, having met Jane and her colleagues and seen the high degree of professionalism and attention to detail they displayed. The participants had fun, learnt about themselves and others, felt engaged, challenged and stimulated throughout the day, as well as having the opportunity to experience the delights of Oxford. The weather on the day started fine but even heavy rain in the afternoon did not dampen enthusiasm. Indeed, it seemed to cement the teams' determination to win even more!

I was particularly impressed by the meticulous organisation of the event, the way it challenged the teams at a number of different levels and the excellent feedback the observers gave to the groups at the end of the day.

The Oxford Challenge set exactly the right tone and atmosphere on which to build for the following days and was a major constituent in the success of the whole conference. It was a real delight working with Jane and her team; their warmth, good humour, expertise and professionalism make them a first class organisation and one that I highly recommend.

Nick Deeming
Company Secretary
The BOC Group

Rosemary Chesters
Organisation Development Manager
The BOC Group
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The York Challenge

Challenge InterActive

We chose the City Challenge because we wanted an outdoor activity as part of our annual Off-Site Training Event that would provide a lot of fun and yet comprise a good opportunity for us to get to know each other and learn about team-working. We had satisfied ourselves about the professionalism of Read Edge Events but had some private concerns - how would 100 property lawyers, from trainees to very senior partners, including lawyers from foreign offices, react to this challenge?

When the November day arrived, the rain was relentless and the forecast was not good. The size of the challenge soon began to sink in after Read Edge set the scene and handed out the question books. Delegates' eyes began to focus - there is no doubt that lawyers love a challenge. The facilitators drew us back from the "win win" mentality and got us to look at other team objectives.

The result? The challenge was a great success. The rain didn't stop from start to finish. It dampened some spirits but the teams rallied and made the best of the situation. Lunchtime was definitely an important stage when we could assess our progress and, more importantly, our facilitator could remind us of our team objectives. We set out again in more confident and relaxed moods. The teams pulled together inspite of the dreadful weather - and that in itself was a lesson.

A large part of the success of the Challenge was owing to the professionalism and enthusiasm of Jane and her colleagues at Read Edge Events. We expect high standards from any external event organiser and these were met. The Challenge provided an ideal setting for us to get to know colleagues over an extended period and also to learn something about ourselves, team working - and York! I would have no hesitation in recommending other organisations to Read Edge Events for a City Challenge.

Sally Newton
Professional Support Lawyer, Property & Planning
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The Newcastle upon Tyne Challenge
The Urban Challenge - The Angels' Delight

I was looking for an event that would really stimulate my team of very keen, dynamic young managers that would engage them, for them to get to know each other outside the work place and also to get to know their city.

The one-day teambuilding exercise you organised for us exceeded my best expectations in providing some great information on Newcastle but also an insight into the challenges and skills required to work effectively in a group.

Piers and his colleagues gave us a truly exciting day that was well organized, that introduced a variety of different practical, cerebral and creative team tasks that reinforced the importance of essential team skills such as planning, time management and effective communication. The event was a good replication of the work place in that is was busy and task driven but allowed time for some excellent feedback which the team took on board.

I particularly liked the dynamic nature of the event, the interesting tasks, the beautiful city of Newcastle and the good nature and sheer professionalism of you and your team.

I would recommend City Challenge to any organisation looking for ways to build a new team quickly - and Yes we did unlock the mystical vault!

Many thanks,

Tony Slipman
Store Manager
Debenhams, MetroCentre Store, Gateshead

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The Bath Challenge

We used City Challenge-Bath to get to know several of our clients in an informal and fun setting. The nature of our internet business is that we do not have much face-to-face interaction with clients. The day event provided a professional and well-organised way for us to share our office location (Bath) with a variety of clients. The feedback from both our own staff and clients was that it was very enjoyable and definitely enhanced our clients' views of our team and company.

Betty Thayer, CEO
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The York Challenge

Jane and her team demonstrated a clear understanding of our requirement for a 'Fun' day which gently, yet irrevocably engendered an understanding of the significance of teamwork as a means of achieving goals. The message was quite literally 'learned' as a result of the activity in a much more effective and enjoyable way than could ever be achieved in a normal classroom environment. The team was left with an invigorated team spirit, recharged, refreshed and ready to face workplace challenges with a more supportive co-operative work ethic... and the blisters were worth it!

Robert Matthews
Head of Customer Interaction & E-Commerce
Yorkshire Building Society
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The Cambridge Challenge

Challenge Bespoke

[Background: There was a requirement for a team-building event for an established IPT (Integrated Project Team). The team consisted of a number of core members (Systems and Specialist Engineers, Project Managers) co-located to Bristol from a range of business sites, along with the support provided by the commercial and financial functions. The IPT had very strong links with IPT partners and major sub-contractors. There was also a smaller, but related IPT that would be participating in the event.]

My objectives when I was trying to source a suitable team-building event was that it had to be different from all the usual "tree-hugging" activities, it had to be capable of being tailored to some of our more specific IPT development objectives and it had to presented by a credible team of professionals.

The City Challenge web site offered a service that appeared to meet most of what I was trying to achieve - the core activity of the City Challenge was novel; I would be able to customise venue, duration and development objectives; the event would be managed by recognised and experienced professionals.

The event itself was a 3-day City Challenge held in Cambridge, in July 2003. For the participants it was a tremendous success. It was physically and mentally challenging and the team were able to consider many of the IPT development issues that they needed to address. One of the outcomes of the event was an action plan for further activities that the team would need to undertake. From that plan and subsequent discussions with the City Challenge team a number of the IPT members were able to identify opportunities for some more creative approaches to team and personal development.

Reflecting back upon my relationship with the City Challenge team the following thoughts come to mind:
  • The Challenge is an excellent team development concept that is well managed by real professionals.
  • Jane and her team are always willing to discuss your development requirements and never pressure you as the potential client to rush into commitments.
  • There is a realisation in the City Challenge organisation that successful team development is not achieved through a single training intervention, but rather through a longer-term development cycle. This does encourage relationship building from both parties.
Graham Hackett
Capability Development Manager
BAE Systems - Submarines
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"Although we have spoken on the telephone since our induction course in September I felt I had to write to express the thanks of both our MSc students and myself.

The one-day teambuilding exercise you organised for us exceeded my best expectations in providing an introduction to Oxford and to the challenges and skills required to work effectively in a group.

Student feedback was strongly complimentary saying how enjoyable the day had been and how professional your group facilitators were. When asked what they got out of the experience the unanimous view was that it had helped people get to know each other and Oxford very quickly and that it had really brought home the importance of key skills such as planning, time management, organisation and listening in an effective and really enjoyable way. These skills are important for our MSc students because of the amount of group-based assignments in the course. The whole event was organised in an extremely professional manner with detailed feedback both from and to the students.

I particularly liked the dynamic nature of the event, the interesting tasks, the beautiful venues for meetings and lunch and the good nature and sheer professionalism of you and your team. Feedback and reflection in the evening was very well managed and reinforced key learning outcomes of the day.

I will certainly hope to book this event again for our next intake of MSc students and I unreservedly recommend City Challenge to any organisation looking for ways to build teams and effective group working.

Many many thanks,

Paul Gaffney

Course Director MSc Business and Enterprise

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"A beautiful Bank Holiday Monday and the gleaming spires of Oxford provided the ideal backdrop for our group of managers, team leaders, and staff to complete The Oxford Challenge. Our objectives for a team-building event were quite clear; we wanted to get to know each other better, we wanted to learn about each other - about our job functions and our roles within the team but we also wanted to do something different. We wanted the learning experience to be fun and to be in a completely different environment to the one we normally operate in. The Oxford Challenge fulfilled all our objectives admirably. It provided the opportunity for team members to work with people they didn't usually work with in a very unique environment. The City of Oxford is beautiful, especially in glorious sunshine, everyone appreciated being outside. They found the Challenge intellectually and physically challenging. It illustrated how in "real life" we are always managing projects and tasks within time constraints and how important it is to plan, prioritise and communicate with each other. The Oxford Challenge helped to bring our team closer together, we shared a fun and rewarding experience, which was very well structured and organised from start to finish. The Oxford Challenge team did a fine job in capturing the essence of our outing. I highly recommend it and personally would love to take The Challenge again either in Oxford or another city".

Brad Baker
ConocoPhillips Aberdeen
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"We had a wonderful day doing the Oxford Challenge. We took everyone from our office, from admin to technology, and everyone enjoyed the day. We learned a huge amount about Oxford and about working with each other. I would strongly recommend the event to anyone interesting in combining team-building with a fun day out of the office!"

Simon Jones
Technology Director, OnDisc Division The Dialog Corporation

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"For the team leader there was much value in working on the programme so that it could be tailored to our specific requirements with the right balance between work, rest and play. For our group the fact that we worked together for two days without facilitation was a big bonus point and a very good training experience for me as leader. The team certainly found this encouraging and as a result we had a supportive two days with everyone working to make it a success. It was important to understand each other's personal wants and needs and how these affect their day to day work - for example I live in Manchester and work in London, this brought a whole discussion on balancing family and work pressures and understanding that there is no right balance but that it has to be what works for you. As a result we have improved our communication, which is now more informal, and we feel secure in being able to state exactly how we see things. The atmosphere in Oxford is unique and the fact you're working in a 14th century building in a city where some of the greatest minds of this millennium worked enabled us to put our business in perspective and take a fresh and wider view of our business. For our overseas staff it brought a glimpse of England like they'd never seen it before and a real sense of what it is like to be a student at an old British University. The Oxford Challenge was enormous fun and certainly brought out some new characteristics from within our team. The course was extremely well thought out providing along the way a guided tour of Oxford and more facts about the city than any of the undergraduates would ever know. We worked out (eventually) that by a little bit of organisation and thought we could cover all the elements required and still have time for coffee on The High".

Phil Parker
Global Business Manager PO & Derivatives Shell Chemicals Europe

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"I am writing to thank you and your team for a very enjoyable and worthwhile day. The whole team agreed that The Challenge gave us the opportunity to see new skills in colleagues and think about the method in which we make decisions within our Senior Management Team and our Area Management Team. We all had tremendous fun and thoroughly enjoyed the sights of Oxford".

Jenny Taylor
Administration Manager, South Westminster PSA Horseferry Road Magistrates Court
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"Taking a team of sales professionals, and letting them free to explore a City like Oxford, was something different to the normal team building exercises we have done in the past. The Oxford Challenge enabled our sales team to appreciate some fresh air and exercise combined with a bit of culture and intellectual stimulation! We had three sales teams merging, giving these highly motivated and dynamic individuals the opportunity to get to know each other in a busy and unknown environment; together with the physical activity of walking and running against the clock, presented them with some unique challenges. The process that some of the teams took in their quest to complete the tasks provided much entertainment, and consequently learning and understanding was acquired in the facilitator led de-briefing session at the end of the morning. The Oxford Challenge proved to be a great success for us, it broke the ice and achieved the objective of getting all the team members to mix and to let off some steam. In addition to having a lot of fun they had an enjoyable and worthwhile experience and appreciated the opportunity to share something different with their colleagues. The Oxford Challenge is a great team-building event and I am happy to recommend it".

Russell Longhorne Manager,
Global & Management Accounts UK & Ireland Dun & Bradstreet

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"The Oxford Challenge proved to be just that, a challenge! Anyone who thought that it was going to be an easy stroll through the delightful streets of Oxford soon realised that it was much more.... Our five day Sales Conference was the first event of its kind for our rapidly growing company. The personnel involved were a mixture of sales and marketing professionals from the UK, USA and Japan, a smattering of Directors and a number of financial and legal people. I was looking for something competitive and different from the typical "barrels, planks and ropes" team building exercises but I also wanted something that was a mental as well as physical challenge. The Oxford Challenge certainly provided that. Everyone enjoyed it immensely and got a lot out of it, both as individuals and as members of teams working through the challenges with their colleagues. Jane recommended that I planned the event in the middle of the week rather than at the end. This proved to be invaluable advice as the interaction in the group improved enormously during the rest of the week. Jane and her team were fun to work with and provided excellent feedback." The event was a huge success for my team and I thoroughly recommend it".

Carl Spires
Sales Director Software 2000

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A DIFFERENT APPROACH! "A different approach was required for the start of the 2001 MBA programme. With over 100 students flying in from all parts of the world for the start of their intensive year in Oxford we had very specific objectives in mind when choosing The Oxford Challenge as an introduction to the MBA programme and Oxford. § To get the students used to working in teams § For people to get to know at least a dozen people well in a structured way on their first day. § To get people to know Oxford § For people to have fun and enjoyment with some learning in an informal environment The Oxford Challenge provided just that. It was a tough challenge, in three hours teams had to maximise point scoring, attend two meeting points at specified times or risk incurring penalty points and finish on time or risk disqualification. The pace was rigorous and our students were mentally and physically challenged but they also had great fun in the process. The students found the event interesting, enjoyable and fun way to start their MBA Programme.It was notable that several students commented on the originality and novelty of The Oxford Challenge and related this to the prestige of the MBA Programme. The Challenge fulfilled our original objectives and started the programme off in an exciting, original and creative way. I am happy to recommend The Oxford Challenge and was so pleased with the way the event was organised and managed that we have decided to use The Oxford Challenge again for the 2002/2003 intake".

Dr Tim Jenkinson
MBA Programme Director SAID Business School, University of Oxford, Oxford
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