MBA Student Consultants Return From Boston

Dr Tom Vine is Course Leader for the MBA programme at the University of Suffolk, and takes Student Consultants to Boston each year: 

This year, four MBA Student Consultants flew out to Boston to carry out work on behalf of an international manufacturing and processing company. With a turnover in excess of $50m, the company has yet to enter European markets. With this as their brief, our students put together a comprehensive market entry strategy for the organisation which included detailed branding, pricing and positioning recommendations, as well as specific advice as regards social media. They formally presented their findings at the Sawyer Business School to the two of the firm’s vice presidents, as well as the founder’s son. All were extremely impressed; so much so that the company has already entrusted them with some follow-up work, which will be fed into their final report.

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Sawyer Business School’s Prof Mike Barretti commented:

The MBA Student Consultants were superb; serious, focused and professional. Te staff here at the Sawyer Business School all appreciated their very evident effort throughout the week and the preliminary results of the project showed it.

James Long, one of the student consultants had this to say:

The Boston consultancy trip was a fantastic group experience. The brief that the company supplied to the group prior to travelling was comprehensive and required the group to remain totally focused throughout. Lectures from Mike Barretti gave the group a great start to the week and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn from Mike who is vastly experienced but also current in his subject matter, also a fantastic host. The week was structured superbly by Tom who made sure that the maximum was taken from the experience, his hard work behind the scenes was truly appreciated by the group.

In my view the residential trip is a must for any MBA student, It allows every aspect of the course to be used in context under testing circumstances and results in great satisfaction. For younger students the week would give a true reflection of the working environment and would be a good addition to any CV, for the more mature student it’s great to be out of the comfort zone to implement the knowledge gained through the MBA.

Lawrence Howes, another member of the group, said this:

The Boston consultancy trip was a great experience that allowed the academic teachings over the course of the MBA to be combined and used in a real life business situation.

The visit to the company incorporated with the lectures received from Prof Mike Barretti gave a rounded approach to the week, with the presentation to the company being well received on the final formal day.

The residential trip to Boston is a must for any MBA Student as it gives real credence that all the hours and hard work from the modules are relevant and can be applied to any business in the UK or further afield.

The planning put in at both the University of Suffolk in the UK and the Suffolk University in Boston, plus the tireless hours put in by Dr Tom Vine, prove to me that this is a relationship for the future and both universities will prosper from continuing the connection.

Creating #SBSCareerReady Graduates

By David Collins, Suffolk Business School

Those who read this blog (and I would like to thank both of you most sincerely) and the more observant among our twitter followers may have noticed that we have changed our ‘hashtag’. We no longer speak of our graduates as being ‘business ready’. Instead we have chosen to highlight their career readiness. I think it might be useful to elaborate upon this development…

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In common with all other British universities the University of Suffolk is expected to demonstrate a commitment to ‘employability’. Our previous reference to the preparation of ‘business ready’ graduates was an attempt to signal our commitment to this agenda. Yet while the term was not inaccurate as a statement of practice and intent, it was nonetheless potentially misleading. You see, while our students and graduates are plainly employable – many have held important roles prior to enrolment and a significant number continue to hold down responsible jobs even while studying full-time – they do not just work for ‘business organizations’. Hospitals, schools, charities and councils (to name just a few (non)business organizations) all build and depend upon the skills that our graduates have developed and can demonstrate. So to suggest that we – as Suffolk Business School – produce just ‘business ready’ graduates is to under-estimate our reach and our broader contribution to society. Our new ‘career-ready’ graduate ‘hashtag’ (#SBSCareerReady) therefore alters our promise to our students and to the families and communities that, in a number of important ways, nurture and depend upon them.

So what does being #SBSCareerReady signal? It’s simple really. We are changing what we do. We will build upon our existing good practices to provide the practical and intellectual challenges that will allow you to be, on graduation, not just employable but ready to embark upon a career.

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And why does this matter? It matters because careers are transformational. Our career-ready graduates will not just possess a degree certificate. They will hold, instead, the golden ticket to an enriching, life-long and life-changing project.

What will this life-changing project entail? Good question. I fully intend to return to this in a later post. Until then I will simply conclude with the suggestion that this is not something I can do to you. No, being career-ready is a process that we will achieve only if we work together!

To find out more about becoming Career Ready with the Suffolk Business School, see our list of courses here.

#SBSStudents: Suffolk Business School Helping to Improve Financial Literacy

By Dr Atul K. Shah

Finance today is a complex arena, and sadly there have been far too many experiences of fraud and deception such that a majority of ordinary people are fearful and have lost trust in experts like bankers, lawyers and accountants. Here at the Suffolk Business School, we have been very concerned about the ethics of finance education, and have always tried to help our student experience by organising field trips and inviting visiting speakers. Here are some examples:

We took the initiative to contact Ipswich Citizens Advice Bureau to help our students to understand the kinds of finance challenges people faced, and how the CAB tries to advise and support. We were welcomed by their Deputy Manager, Nelleke van Helfteren. They ran a workshop for the students explaining the services they provide, how they help people with a range of problems, debt being the most common, and she also ran some interactive quizzes for them. The whole visit was a huge eye-opener, as modern finance textbooks used in business schools say nothing about personal finance and the huge problems of financial fraud and financial illiteracy. By default, they prove that the lives of the ordinary and the marginal are irrelevant for the study of ‘high finance’ – the highly technical, complex and fraudulent variety which sadly prevails today.

Two of our students, Kameliya Yankov and Teodor Georgiev were so impressed that they have applied to be volunteers at the CAB. We are following up the visit by setting a class assignment for them to reflect on the experience and what they learnt from it.

Here is what Nelleke van Helfteren, Deputy Manager of the Ipswich CAB said to me:

“It was such a delight to meet your students and I found it very stimulating to look at our service through the eyes of Finance and Accounting students and to paint a picture of what money means to many of our clients. It is so important for people working in the financial sector to understand how our personal finances feed into so many aspects of our lives – health, relationships, housing, employment to name but a few. The evidence that we gather in the course of our advice work demonstrates this very clearly.

It would be great to meet you and talk about how we can work together in the future to ensure your students at many levels are well-educated in the impact of finance on individuals going about their everyday lives.”

We were very impressed by the service the Ipswich CAB provides free of charge, and the quality of their training and management. They also seemed very cost-efficient, proving that businesses are not the only efficient organisations on the planet – in fact charities can be even more efficient. Above all, we found their ‘holistic’ approach, which tries to engage with the whole person, very synonymous with our approach to finance education here. Like them, we too respect the students as whole beings.