MBA Consultancy in Indonesia

By Dr Tom Vine, Executive MBA Programme Leader

I am delighted to report that this year’s MBA international consultancy trip was a resounding success.

Following months of preparatory work, we finally arrived in Jakarta late on Saturday 12th May. Following a day of rest, we began our task in earnest on Monday morning. We started the day at Binus Business School in south Jakarta. Our students had two sessions: the first, an overview of ASEAN trade; the second, basic Bahasa Indonesia language skills. Following a brief lunch, we then headed to another part of the city to visit Pernakpernikku Ceramics, an relatively young Indonesian company employing thirty craftsmen. Here we met the company’s CEO, got a feel for the products, and discussed the company’s aspirations and practical requirements in more detail. Although Pernakpernikku has already taken the first tentative steps into international markets, it was seeking our assistance to develop an appropriate international expansion strategy, with a focus on European markets.

On Tuesday morning, we visited the Jarkata British Embassy and had an extremely constructive conversation with the Trade and Investment Director, Deputy Director and Operations Manager. Among other things, they gave us guidance in respect of the best way to communicate professional advice to Indonesian businesses without inadvertently alienating key personnel, or opening up new areas of uncertainty. Following this meeting, our MBA students then had all the information they needed to spend the next two days developing a detailed international expansion strategy for Pernakpernikku Ceramics.

At the end of the week, the students presented their strategy and associated recommendations. The presentation took place in front of Pernakpernikku’s CEO, Binus University Faculty, a film crew and myself. Their key recommendations were threefold [1] a bifurcation of the Pernakperkikku brand so as to distinguish between tourist and premium product lines; [2] a significant increase in pricing in respect of the premium product lines (justified, in part, by Veblen economic theory); and [3] clear direction in respect of specific international e-commerce opportunities.

Brief coverage of the presentation, courtesy of Binus TV, can be viewed here.

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#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

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