Digital Business Master Class – exactly the course that is needed to keep up with today's business landscape

The DBMC course has attracted a wide range of different learners since its start in 2018. Shane McMahon attended the DBMC in the summer of 2021 and was particularly happy about working with environmental solutions during the course company project.
Shane McMahon sitting on a transparent glass floor high up in a skyscraper where you can see the ground beneath him.

The Digital Business Master Class (DBMC) by Aalto University Summer School is an intensive course focusing on digital technologies as tools for building businesses. The course has attracted a wide range of different learners since its start in 2019 – university students from every continent of the world, working professionals who want to stay updated with the current digital landscape and entrepreneurs with the aim to take the next step in the development of their business. 

We had a chat with Shane McMahon, DBMC alumnus and Lead Consultant in Organisational Resilience and part owner at Horizonscan, a small consultancy based in England. 

“Unlike many of my colleagues on the DBMC course, I didn’t go to university when I finished school. I’m originally from Ireland and spent 10 years working in the emergency services in London. Recently I have had the opportunity to complete my MSc in Risk, Crisis and Management. I am responsible for developing our trainee and junior consultants at work, and to do this I need to maintain awareness of changes in the business landscape.” says Shane.

Why did you choose the DBMC?

In 2020 in the midst of the global pandemic, my business transitioned to an employee-owned business model and subsequently, we have been finding our feet and settling into our new roles and responsibilities. For me, this transition highlighted some personal skill gaps particularly around digital business design and the use of data. I came across the DBMC at Aalto while trying to find a course that would provide me with insight into digital business. The notion of an intensive two-week course appealed to me as I wanted to challenge myself.

What was your favorite part of the course?

It’s a difficult question as all parts of the course were interesting and different. I enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in the lectures and ask questions. There were lots of opportunities to mix with other teams during the breakout sessions and the social activities (although online) were a good laugh. The structure of the course was great with each of the lectures giving me something new to think about and then put into practice in the company project that was running alongside the lectures.

Challenge-based projects with a focus on environmental solutions

Challenge-based learning is an integral part of the DBMC where students work in international and multidisciplinary teams on real-life challenges given by partnering companies.

“In my consultancy role I have been talking a lot about how protecting the environment is the game-changer for all businesses, big and small. I pose the question to clients ‘Can your business be resilient if it has an adverse impact on the planet?’. When I found out that my company project was all about coming up with a solution to collect environmental data for a Finnish municipality I was thrilled. We had a truly international team, and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates and friends. Our team meetings even spanned across three time zones: UK, Finland, and Australia!” says Shane.

What are your top 3 key learnings from the course?

  1. At this moment in my career and with all the business changes accelerated by the pandemic I truly needed this course. Completing it has given me fresh ideas, knowledge, and motivation for the future. 
  2. The course and lectures reinforced my own views around developing team diversity as well as the benefits and challenges of working remotely. This is something that I have been encouraging and developing for several years. We need to acknowledge that no one individual will ever have all the answers and solutions and together we are stronger. We need to develop and support knowledge-based organisations with the right culture, people and principles. 
  3. The ecosystem model and the need to think outside the ‘normal’ business model is needed more than ever to compete, survive, and prosper in a complex, unstable and opportunity loaded world.

Have you had use for your learnings in your work-life?

Within days of the course finishing, I had a strategy meeting where I was immediately able to bring some of the learning and discussion points from the course into this meeting and constructively challenge assumptions.

For whom would you recommend the DBMC?

The course appeals to a wide audience. I’m a working professional and the course had a nice balance of students and working professionals from around the world, and we were all able to learn from each other’s experiences. 

Any tips for future DBMC:ers?

The biggest practical tip I can give anyone who is considering applying is that you need to appreciate that this is an intensive and challenging course. I booked two weeks off work and I’m glad I did as I was able to concentrate more and enjoy the lectures without distractions. This made for a much more enjoyable and memorable course experience and enabled me to spend more time on the project collaboration with my teammates.

Students in front of Väre building of Aalto University campus

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Aalto University Summer School offers high quality academic summer courses and programs at Aalto University.

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