#SBSStudents: Tourism students visit Greenwich

Tourism students were given first-hand experience of how a major international destination operates when a group of second and third years visited Greenwich. The destination contains the tenth most popular tourist attractions in the UK and forms part of one of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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University of Suffolk Tourism students and staff aboard Cutty Shark. (C) Prof. David Gill.

The students were able to evaluate the visitor attractions of the Cutty Sark that carried cargoes of tea and wool to Britain; the Royal Naval Hospital with its ornate chapel; the National Maritime Museum; and the Royal Observatory and the meridian line. As well as enjoying the multicultural experience of the Greenwich Market, where they were able to savour the international cuisine, the students were impressed with the ease of the transport links to Greenwich: the Docklands Light Railway from Stratford and passing through Canary Wharf; and then returning down the river Thames on the Clipper where they stopped at The Tower of London.

Barrie Kelly, CEO of Visit Greenwich, gave a short presentation to the students to explain how different organisations can work together to make a destination success. Greenwich attracts some 18.5 million visitors a year, and this contributes approximately £1.2 billion to the local economy. The students heard about the ambitious plans to create a new cruise ship terminal in Greenwich to allow more international visitors to access the area.

James Kennell, Principal Lecturer at the University of Greenwich, talked to the students about the centrality of tourism in any plans to develop economic impact. He reviewed his research on the sustainability and effectiveness of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs).

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University of Suffolk Tourism students and staff. (C) Prof. David Gill.

One student was delighted to find that the Cutty Sark had visited his home island of São Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea. The interactive exhibits on the ship included ports that had been served by the Cutty Sark, and contained images of his home town from the late 19th century. Student Guter Narciso said “I was so excited to find that my home had this long-standing connection with the UK.”

Laura Locke, course leader for events and tourism at the University of Suffolk said “Activities such as this visit to London offer such marvellous opportunities for students to experience the reality of the contexts they are studying, to meet key experts and contributors to the tourism economy and to apply the theory to the practice.”

Professor David Gill, Director of Heritage Futures, said “The grandeur of Greenwich helps students to immerse themselves in a major international heritage attraction and to meet those involved with the destination’s presentation and interpretation.”

Professor David Collins, Head of the Suffolk Business School, added “Experiencing a major destination such as Greenwich situates and embeds more conventional forms of learning and in so doing allows students to appreciate the essential complexity of what we too often reduce to tourism. This experience combined with other opportunities to apply knowledge and to develop real-life reflection is what makes our graduates career-ready’.”

The students studying on the Event and Tourism programme are currently working with All About Ipswich to develop the Celebrate Ipswich conference on Friday 12 May at Trinity Park Conference Centre. More information can be found by visiting the Eventbrite page.

Mintzberg, Managers, and Meetings

By David Collins, Suffolk Business School

For about twenty-five years now I have been lecturing students about the work of Henry Mintzberg. During the 1970s, Mintzberg published a ground-breaking piece of research that was instantly recognised as a management classic. Building upon a very small sample of Executive decision-makers (literally a hand full of diaries), Mintzberg basically explained just why it is that managers seem to spend so much time in meetings. On January 2nd 2017, I became Head of Suffolk Business School. As a consequence I stopped teaching this…and started living it.

Today my working day started just after 7am. I had an 8am meeting scheduled and arrived early to get a head-start on the day (there are ALWAYS e-mails). I was in truth not too bothered by the prospect of this early meeting because I had been promised that it would commence and be built around bacon rolls. The problem being that I never made it to the meeting. Something came up that required my attention so I had to forgo breakfast. Having resolved this issue I then picked up a cup of coffee and a manuscript that the editor of Organization has invited me to review.

I read the paper and made some notes (it’s quite good but needs some further analytical and structural development) preparatory to the completion of the formal review that I will submit some time over the next few weeks. At 09:30 I met with colleagues from HRM and when this meeting concluded it was time to speak with a colleague from Portugal who will, I hope, visit the University in May. When I complete this blog post I will scuttle off to a meeting convened to discuss student recruitment. Later I will ‘catch-up’ with the Deputy Head of School and with my very patient PA before I have another meeting with HR.

This is pretty much how my days unfold. So just why do managers spend so much time in meetings? I thought you might ask this…

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Mintzberg. Photo (C) http://www.mintzberg.org

Mintzberg suggests that managers spend so much of each day in face-to-face meetings simply because this is about the best means of securing managerial ends and processes. But why is this is the case? It’s simple really: Mintzberg suggests that managing yourself and managing others is challenging and rewarding because this sort of work involves an on-going negotiation as to a) what should be done b) who should actually do this and c) who should cover the cost. And in complex hierarchies with limited budgets – such as, say, the University of Suffolk – this is perhaps more complex than you might imagine because there will be lots of managers; lots of managerial goals; lots of alternative courses of action and consequently many different ways in which the ‘right thing’ to do might be conceptualised and pursued.

But on Monday…my diary looks a little more relaxed…because on Monday I will be in a tiny rural village in south-west France en vancances. The village is tiny but it is steeped in history: The great French politician Gambetta attended school in this village. But this place has for me an altogether more alluring appeal for I will be staying in a house that has no land-line, no internet access and only an intermittent mobile telephone signal.

You see, those who manage also need to set time aside for reflection, so before my travelling companions awaken I will spend a part of each morning revising a now overdue manuscript on management gurus. When I return I might share a little of this reflection. Until then…adieu!

#SBSStudents: Learning in Context (and in the sun!)

Students from the Suffolk Business School at the University of Suffolk have recently returned from a cultural tourism field trip to southern Spain.

The students studying Event and Tourism Management and Business Management visited Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz.

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Suffolk Business School students and staff in Seville. Photo (C) Suffolk Business School

Gintare Liutkeviciute, first year Event and Tourism student said “It has been an amazing trip, with the best people! I enjoyed every minute of it and it was great to use our Spanish language knowledge. I was impressed with the discipline and dedication of Spanish students at the Dance Concervatorio, it definitely taught me how important is to focus on my goals and to be committed no matter how hard it can get. Overall, this trip was absolutely amazing, can somebody turn back time por favor?”

Laura Locke, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Event and Tourism Management  who accompanied the students said “We visited museums and galleries, marvelled at the combination of Moslem, Jewish and Catholic heritage architecture displayed in the Mesquita in Cordoba, explored the Plaza de Espana in Seville where Game of Thrones and Star Wars was filmed and questioned the tour guide in Cadiz about the opportunities for developing destinations, thus extending the students’ learning from their year one and two modules.”

“There were many highlights of the tour; students were unanimous that the visit to the Conservatoire for Spanish dance in Seville was enlightening, inspiring, and inspirational.”

Accompanying Laura on the tour was Lecturer Gloria Picton. With a background in banking, Gloria teaches the Language and Culture for Business module so the students were able to put their Spanish to the test.

Fellow student Alioune Sylla said “I would recommend that every university should offer their students this opportunity. We really have been blessed to experience it. This trip offers students to get to know each other at different levels, to connect and also build friendships…we were able to practice what we have been studying in Spanish seminars for the past few weeks.”