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.

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 biased is on abstract philosopher, 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.