#SBSCareerReady: Mentoring Scheme with Larking Gowen

Professor Atul K. Shah launches a new mentoring scheme for students with Larking Gowen – showing how the University supports students in becoming career ready.

The employment market is very competitive. Quality jobs require quality people, and the first step onto the ladder can often be very tough for new graduates.

For our pioneering degree in BA(Hons) Accounting and Financial Management, we at University of Suffolk take care in preparing students for the competitive world, and give them a rounded experience – we go on field trips to the City of London and to meet employers, invite visiting speakers, and give students challenging assignments and projects to stimulate all-round development. Throughout the degree, culture, ethics and communication are emphasised alongside technical skills and training.

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(From left to right) Final Year students on the BA(Hons) Accounting and Financial Management programme, Professor Atul Shah, and managers from Larking Gowen. 

With this in mind, this year, we launched a new Mentoring Programme for our graduating students, with the help of Larking Gowen, a top accounting firm in East Anglia. Accounting professionals gave generously of their time and advice to support our students. A special launch meeting was held in April 2018 with final year students, and they were matched to their mentors. There was ample opportunity to chat and discuss career options. The feedback received from the mentors was very positive:

“It’s great to see the University of Suffolk providing this mentoring programme for their students which shows how committed they are to helping their students, not only whilst they are enrolled but even after they have graduated the course.  The students I met were all determined to go and find jobs that would build on the studies they had undertaken at the University and in some cases already trying to get some practical experience via internships.  Our advice was met with much gratitude and appreciation and I hope to be able to guide them and provide as many useful hints and tips that will allow them to find the best employment to put their studies into practice.”

Louise Dean ACCA, Manager, Larking Gowen

When meeting the students, what shone through more than most was their passion for the subject and enthusiasm to get into the world of work.  The modules learned will provide an important level of knowledge into the world of accounting and finance and sets the students in good stead for wherever their careers take them.  The student’s next step will be to research their chosen careers and scope out a pathway to achieving this – we will help wherever possible with guiding them on this journey.

Steven Burgess ACCA, Manager, Larking Gowen

The introduction of a mentoring scheme from the University of Suffolk on the Accounting and Financial Management course shows the passion they have for their students in not only wanting them to succeed at their studies, but also to succeed in their chosen career. From our initial meeting it was clear that the students all had aspirations to apply their knowledge from their studies and build on this as they embark on the next stage of building a successful career. I look forward to being able to help the students with advice and guidance when needed.

Samantha Meadows ACCA, Manager, Larking Gowen

Our students had this to say:

I have really enjoyed to be part of this great meeting. The accounting professionals that we met were very kind in giving us valuable advice and sharing their personal experience. I feel more encouraged now, knowing that I can always be supported of people who have already walked this path.

Kameliya Yankov – Final year student

Another great and helpful event, which is going to help the students – myself included – through their professional journey.

Teodor Georgiev – Final year student

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Teaching Business Ethics Through Sportsmanship

Dr Tom Vine presented at the Ensors sponsored Quay To Growth Business Breakfast at the University of Suffolk on Thursday 2 March. He discussed some new research taking place in the Suffolk Business School, on teaching Business Ethics using the principles of sportsmanship:

Business Ethics is traditionally taught through philosophy, and is often driven by the same key, Western philosophers: Kant, Aristotle, Marx, Nietzsche, to name a few. The bias is on abstract philosophy, and irrespective of the level of study (undergraduate or postgraduate), teaching falls back on a classical philosophical framework.

But here we have a problem – business students have not enrolled on a philosophy degree, and they can struggle with the material. Students may recognise that there is value to the reading and engagement with the module, but they are often looking for practical nuggets that will help them in their future careers – how can they be a better business person?

Here at the Suffolk Business School, we decided to start exploring alternatives to this traditional method of teaching, and have realised that we can supplement this with a different perspective – the idea of sportsmanship. Solomon (2004) even argues that good sportsmanship and fair play are essential obligations to business ethics, although he makes this statement free from further research or investigation. We decided to delve deeper, to take advantage of the connections between sportsmanship and businessmanship in a pedagogical sense.

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We know that there is a language of sportsmanship in business – considering the ‘ballcourt figure’, or to ‘get the ball rolling’. We ‘keep our eye on the ball’, or we have to ‘take it on the chin’. Clients ‘move the goalposts’, and competitors ‘play hardball’. Where has this linguistic connection between sports and business come from?

As in sports, there are competitors in business; there are rules by which we must play and conduct business; there are parallels in respect to betrayal. There is an sense of ‘fair play’ and behaviour that is driven by a moral reasoning.

So why do we think this approach works? Well, we know that sport has wide appeal – there is an already well established cultural understanding of what it means to be a good sportsman, even if a student does not follow a particular sport or team avidly. This allows our students to engage immediately, with something they can relate to on a fundamental level. Sportsmanship is learned at an early age – unlike philosophy. It is also inherently personal – learning of sportsmanship is experiential, much like how it is to be a good business person. These things make learning business ethics through sportsmanship intellectually accessible to students, who perhaps did not realise they would be embarking on philosophy as part of their business degree.

This is part of an ongoing research project by Dr Tom Vine and Dr Will Thomas. If you are interested in this research, please contact talkbusiness@uos.ac.uk

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.