Leverhulme Trust awards £90000 to BBS to examine workplace innovation attempts

Prof Neil Anderson

Prof Neil Anderson

Professor Neil Anderson and Dr Ana-Cristina Costa from Brunel Business School have been awarded approx. £90,000 by the Leverhulme Trust to establish and run an International Collaborative Research Network (ICRN) as part of the Trusts competitive tendering process for international research centres.

Dr Ana Cristina Costa

Dr Ana Cristina Costa

The International Collaborative Research Network will initially run for a 24-month period and will investigate creativity and innovation in the workplace and their effects upon performance, human resource management policies, and psychological well-being across three countries in the EU – the UK, the Netherlands, and Spain. Collaborating groups will be based at Maastricht University and the University of Valencia.

This Centre has been fully-funded by the Leverhulme Trust and will examine both the positive and negative causes, effects, and outcomes of workplace innovation attempts. A particular emphasis of the International Collaborative Research Network will be to further our understanding of the relations between creativity and innovation in job roles and different aspects of psychological well-being for employees, and the way in which these processes can best be managed in order to improve workgroup and organizational performance outcomes.

The Brunel Business School currently hosts six world-renowned centres of research:

MBA Students learn a humbling lesson on Business Tour to India

In February 2012 a group of  Brunel MBA students embarked on an inaugural overseas business trip – this time to Mumbai, India. This tour, supported by AICAR Business School Mumbai, complemented other School-wide MBA company visits in the UK and aborad as part of Brunel’s Business Life Employability Programme.

Brunel MBA Director, Prof Amir Sharif said:

Brunel’s MBA programme seeks to enable students to understand, learn and ultimately, share experience with their fellow colleagues from around the world.  Our Business Tour to Mumbai in India, seeks to deepen these experiences by exposing them to the vibrant and dynamic nature of one of the leading BRIC economies first hand over an intensive and rewarding 5 day visit. Accompanied by Brunel Business School faculty, and facilitated by a Mumbai-based business school,  the tour focuses on learning about the growing Indian economy. As such, the tour provides an exhilarating and professionally focussed series of visits and meetings with senior executives from a range of national and multinational companies and organisations. These companies range from sectors as diverse as financial services, fast moving consumer goods / food and social and micro-enterprises. In 2012, these include well known global brands such as Merrill Lynch, Cadburys, McDonalds; as well as social enterprises local to Mumbai such as Eureka Forbes and Shanti Avedna Sadan. The MBA Business Tour is an excellent chance for students to expand their overseas knowledge and experience in a business context.

Student Diary of the Tour:

Arrival: After a 10-hour flight, the group along with Prof. Ashley Braganza, Director of Executive Education and Alumni, and Dr. Francesco Moscone, Reader at Brunel Business School, were met by Dr Buril (Dean of the Faculty, AICAR), Thomas (Head of General Administration) and a driver of a yellow mini bus, our major means of transport during the entire trip. After nearly 4 hours in the mini bus, we stopped to have our first meal in India – spicy McDonald’s veggie burgers, a variety that is unique to India. It was a deliberate decision partially because McDonald’s was one of the companies we were going to visit with spicy veggie burgers being one of the factors contributing to their localisation success; partially because Ashley didn’t want to give our digestive systems too big a cultural shock. In a land of heat, noise and dust, that particular local McDonald’s felt like an oasis with its clean interior, comfort seating and air-conditioned atmosphere. Despite the deceptively familiar signage and layout, the fiery treatment to our taste buds brought about by eating those spice veggie burgers soon made us realise we were well and truly in India. 

MBA Students at the Gateway of India

MBA Students at the Gateway of India

AICAR Business School: At around 5pm local time, we arrived at our destination: AICAR Business School.  Located in an idyllic rural setting at the foothills of Matheran surrounded by unspoiled green landscape, AICAR is a Business School set up in 2003. The reception they prepared for us was spectacular. With colourful horse-drawn carriages, fireworks, drums, traditional Indian rituals, and ubiquitous banners, we felt like local celebrities.  Before we were shown to our individual en-suit room, we were given personalised diaries and a few other necessities as a token of good will. Later on, we had our first dinner at AICAR’s canteen and interacted with students and faculty who were eager to compare their MBA experiences with ours.

Sunday 11th Feb 2012: We started the day by participating in a guided traditional Indian meditation. With our minds cleared and spirit purified, we listened attentively to Prof Guru Prasad’s presentation on Indian economy with the title “The Wow Factor.” After lunch, we were invited to watch AICAR students playing cricket and had a go throwing and batting ourselves. It didn’t seem that any of us had the talent for playing cricket, especially the girls, but it was great fun nonetheless.

In the afternoon, after a presentation on Eurika Forbes Project, an initiative to manufacture products that are specifically designed for poor villagers who often don’t have clean drinking water or reliable electricity supply, we visited four villages nearby.

Monday 12th Feb 2012: Today we experienced the opulent side of India. Located in one of the elegant-looking modern office buildings in central Mumbai, office of Merrill Lynch India is tastefully decorated. From its grand entrance to its glittering golden logos on many walls, all artefacts suggested the abundance of wealth – a sharp contrast to the poor villages we visited the day before. We were received by Mr. Anand Khatau, MD of Investment Division, and Mr Vijay Gaba, a strategist who delivered the presentation and answered our questions. We were shown how investment options were assessed from a macroeconomic viewpoint. Perhaps not so surprisingly, Vijay Gaba turned out to be not only an expert in investment, but also well versed in many historical and cultural issues. It was fascinating to listen to his take on the complicated Indian caste and class systems, the so-called “agricultural mentality” and why the changing social demographics holds the key for a better future.

Brunel MBA Students at Merrill Lynch

Brunel MBA Students at Merrill Lynch, India

Later that afternoon, we visited the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel. What magnificent architectural landmarks they both are, with the Gateway being a reminder of India’s close relationship with the British Empire and Taj Mahal Hotel the symbol of national pride. Inside the hotel, we saw the sites where the recent shooting took place. Although hardly any trace of that tragic event was left, it was not difficult to imagine the shock and horror people must have felt at that time.

Tuesday 13th Feb 2012: McDonald’s head office is housed in a modest building in a leafy area of Mumbai. The presentation was delivered by the Head of McDonalds India who told an engaging story of introducing McDonald’s to India – a challenging and yet rewarding process started 10 years ago. In order to succeed, they worked really hard to change people’s perception of McDonald’s as a chain of Western restaurants to a place where Indian families can afford to go. They also overcame issues such as developing their own supply chain and adjusting to local taste without compromising brand identity. When the question of McDonald’s health credentials was raised, we learned that, interesting enough, the primary concern of McDonald’s India is not obesity, but malnutrition. After the meeting, we were treated to a McDonald’s lunch and sampled all of their newly localised burgers, milkshakes and ice cream – all in the name of market research of course. Some of us even went into the kitchen and experienced the operations of the restaurant first hand. 

MBA Students in the McDonals HQ in India

MBA Students in the McDonals HQ in India

In the afternoon, we visited the Orbit Mall, one of Mumbai’s modern Shopping Malls. There, western designer brands could be seen next door to upper market Indian brands – yet another different aspect of Indian urban existence.

Wednesday 14th Feb 2012: After a meeting with the Chairman of Cadbury’s India, we attended a presentation by their HR Director, who explained comprehensively how Cadbury’s has become a household name and why it holds such an important place in Indian consumers’ heart. She spoke also about its marketing strategy and the impacts of Kraft’s acquisition of Cadburys on corporate strategies and human resource management. As far as snacks were concerned, we were treated to a generous amount of chocolates during the presentation followed by a bag full of Cadbury’s sweets assortment each to take away.

Dinner with Brunel Alumni at the Hyatt Hotel in Mumbai was yet another memorable experience. We had a good time chatting with our alumni and exchanging views about our lecturers and our shared experiences of being Brunel MBA students – a great sense of nostalgia was clearly felt.

Thursday 15th Feb 2012: Today we visited Shanti Avedna Ashram, the largest hospice in the world for cancer patients that accepts only those who has absolutely no chance of ever being cured. It was a beautiful place, full of colourful flowers and lively trees. It looked more like a hotel than a hospice. The wards for the terminally ill all have a sea view too. 

As Hindu tradition favours dying at home, most of the patients are those who are too poor to die at home. It was heart-warming to see that how, after a lifetime of hardship, those terminally ill could have their physical, social, financial and spiritual needs taken care of by the hospice at no cost to them or their family at all. Amazingly, it is completely funded by donations. Using the chief oncologist’s words, “We’ve outsourced fund raising to God, and he has never let us down.”

Regardless of their financial, cultural or religious background, all patients are treated equally and have the opportunity to enjoy love, care and peace towards the end of their lives. It was a profoundly moving and humbling lesson.

At our request, Walter Saldanha, owner and chairman of the AICAR Business School and a patron of the hospice, gave us a lecture on entrepreneurship in one of the rooms at the hospice following the visit. His story was captivating. We learned that he started as a typist without any formal academic training, but went on to make his fortune in advertising through sheer determination, confidence, patience and lots lots of work. “It’s not hard,” he told us, “because I’ve always enjoyed what I do.” Though successful and well connected, he is utterly unassuming and down to earth. At age 83, Walter is still physically active and mentally sharp, and works 10-14 hours daily. He accompanied us on all our business trips and touched every one of us deeply with his extraordinary humility.

Friday 16th Feb 2012: After breakfast, we spent a few hours in AICAR’s meditation centre, an open circular space with nothing but a roof on the top, reflecting on our learning so far. Later, we attended a fascinating lecture by Mr. Anand Kurian on “Reality Plus”, a term he coined to describe a marketing concept where a perception of a product created by advertisement is more real than the actual good itself.

In the afternoon, we walked along rail tracks leading to the Matheran Hill Station. Whilst appreciating local communities’ simple and natural way of life, we were also impressed by the natural beauty of Matheran Mountain and had fun photographing another type of its residents – monkeys.

Enjoying the simple life in India

Enjoying the simple life in India

Before our farewell dinner, we watched the final of AICAR student cricket tournament. As guest of honour, Prof. Ashley Braganza, Dr. Francesco Moscone and 5 MBA students gave out medals and trophies to groups of very excited students. After dinner, we presented AICAR faculties our gifts of appreciation on behalf of Brunel Business School.

Final Reflection: From the warm welcome we received upon arrival at AICAR Business School, to our farewell dinner seven days later and many visits and activities in-between, we learned so much about Indian economy, culture, social demographics, and in particular its complicated and yet fascinating caste and class systems. We saw extreme poverty and awe-inspiring elegant opulence, we experienced tranquillity of the rural village and the deafening noise of urban environment, we investigated modern shopping malls with Western designer brands and bargain stalls on the pavement of streets set against the backdrop of a “seemingly organised” chaotic traffic system… Whilst India is a country full of sharp contrasts, it also strikes us as a nation that is highly vibrant, dynamic, aspiring and extremely colourful.

What an experience that was, full of exhilarating and unforgettable moments. It has indeed deepened and enriched our understanding of one of the BRIC economies and strengthened us physically and psychologically through surviving many challenges posed by the business trip. As normal daily routine resumes back in the UK and busy studying schedule takes dominance, our memory of the trip may fade a little. However, the bond forged there is likely to have much longer lasting effects on all of us.

Acknowledgement : We would like to thank Prof. Ashley Braganza for organising and leading the eye-opening business trip and Dr. Francesco Moscone for looking after us. We would also like to thank Mr. Saldanha, Dr. Buril, Thomas, Prof. Kutty, Prof. Guruprasad, Dr. Menon, Mr. Kurian, Mr. Nair and all other faculty and students of AICAR for the warm welcome we received and for trying their best to make our trip memorable, enjoyable and meaningful.

This report has been provided by Elizabeth Huang and Funmilayo Obileye – Brunel MBA Ambassadors

Business Tour takes MSc in Management Students to Turkey

Mars Logistics Group Visit

Mars Logistics Group Visit

On the 13th February seven lucky MSc Management students were given the opportunity to take part in a Business Tour to Istanbul, Turkey. Students first had to pass a test and write a personal statement outlining why they should be given this opportunity. After all their hard work, rigorous selection and a 4 hour flight, they finally landed in Attaturk airport where they were met with harsh weather conditions and a flurry of Turkish traffic!

The students along with Dr Grahame Fallon, the MSc Management course director, and Francesca Vitale, the BBS Alumni and Rankings representative, were met by a representative from Galatasaray University and taken to their hotel in the Ortakoy district. Galatasaray University has a distinctive past of more than 500 years in education and training and is one of the most important members of the Galatasaray Community. It was first established in 1481 by Sultan Beyazit II and was called the Galata Palace, still bearing Palace like features today!Following a traditional Turkish dinner of kebabs and lots of Lahmacun, dough topped with mincemeat which slightly resembled the appearance of a pizza, the staff and students settled into the hotel before their hectic schedules were to begin the next day…

Up bright and early for a buffet breakfast, the group started off the next day with their first company visit to Deloitte’s. Professor Mustafa Ozbilgin met the Business Tour group for this part of their trip where his Turkish background and language skills came in extremely useful! Towering above the city of Istanbul in a skyscraper to rival those in New York, Deloitte’s introduced themselves as one of the biggest professional services in the world. With 180,000 employees in over 150 countries across the globe, providing audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services, Deloitte’s has been ranked in BusinessWeek’s top 50 places to launch a career.

The students were invited to ask questions throughout the presentation from Deloitte’s and found out some very interesting facts surrounding the Turkish economy, notably that Turkish companies are reluctant to offer work permits to Non-Turks due to the high level of unemployment within Turkish people.After a tour around the company building, Deloitte’s treated the group to a Valentine’s Day lunch before they headed back to Galatasaray University for a seminar with DEKON Congress and Tourism Company.

The hectic schedule continued with a Welcome Reception from the Turkish University in a venue which was specifically made for their Alumni Association. Galatasaray has a huge Alumni network who regularly meet for dinners and networking events. All graduates of the university have an important role to be able to continue to increase their success and succeed in the Galatasaray mission which is to create an association of graduates who are in constant connection with each other, and who must strengthen the synergy created by this new collaboration to benefit both the University and country. To conclude the group’s first day, dinner was served in a delightful restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus Bridge which was lit up phenomenally in the dark sky.

Wednesday morning hit with a spell of snow, and an hour long journey in the minibus for another company visit. Mars Logistics Group gave a stimulating presentation surrounding their company, a well-established corporate logistics company providing impeccable road, air, sea, fair and events logistics, rail freight, customs clearance, insurance and logistics solutions. The study group put on their hi viz jackets and were able to witness the warehouse and distribution process for themselves and enjoyed learning about all aspects of the company, from the Marketing department to their customer relationship strategy. The last full day and final company visit was to a family textile business, Aster Tekstil who specialize in women’s and children’s clothing. They design and produce for well-known brands such as Marks and Spencer’s, Reiss and Mango which definitely caught the attention of all the girls on in the Study Tour group! The girls were in for another treat when the company representative

Aster Tekstil

Aster Tekstil Visit

allowed the group to glimpse their designs for the new season, speak to the designers about their work and actually explore the production facilities where employees were hard at work! It is evident that family businesses are a lot more common in Turkey than the UK but the company expressed that this has both its advantages and disadvantages. After yet more delicious Turkish food in the company canteen, the group headed back to the University for a seminar with Ali Agaoglu, an Economist and Editor of Fortune Magazine.

Before heading back home on the Friday, the group had some free time to enjoy the sights of Istanbul, stock up on Turkish delights and barter in the world’s largest and oldest indoor market, the Grand Bazaar!

The 5 days spent in Istanbul for the Study Tour were thoroughly enjoyed by the staff and students, and the representatives from Galatasaray University provided excellent hospitality and support. They organized a fantastic schedule filled with both practical and social activities where all parties involved learnt a great deal about the Turkish economy and culture. Sibel Yamak, a Professor of Management at Galatasaray University concluded that: “It was a pleasure for me as well as for my colleagues to meet you, Mustafa and your students in Istanbul! We will be most pleased to repeat this experience any time in the future!”

BBS placement student awarded by Xerox Europe

Ryan with Xerox Europe Pricing Manager

Ryan Spurge, a Brunel Business School placement student has been given a recognition award for his valuable contribution and excellent work ethic whilst working as a Pricing Executive in the Xerox Europe Pricing team. He was presented a certificate by his manager Alwin Rasul along with a £40 electronic gift voucher. Ryan has also been selected to provide pricing support as part of the world’s largest printing trade show in Dusseldorf, known as Drupa, where Xerox will be exhibiting their technologies and services

Brunel MBA Students Examine Corporate Universities with British Airways

Brunel MBA Students have begun their final stage of the MBA Programme by undertaking a Business Project with British Airways. Under the guidance of Dr Aida Hajro from Brunel Business School and support from the British Airways Head of Talent Management, Head of Engineering, Head of HRM and the members of the British Airways Strategy Group, the students will examine the role of corporate universities in fostering innovative capacity.

Dr Aida Hajro will be supervising the MBA Business Project

The airline’s corporate university, the “Learning Academy”, was founded in April 2010 with a mission to increase the corporate innovative capacity of the firm by fostering a learning-centred organisational culture.Gisela Narrea and Arthur Owino – the Brunel Business School MBA students engaged on the project – will identify necessary steps for successfully creating a corporate university as a strategic umbrella for all learning and to explore how organizations can develop as innovative cultures.  The study will be conducted onsite at British Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, where the students are provided office space for the time of their MBA Business Project.

Interviews will be conducted with senior corporate managers and employees, exploring the different views of these two groups regarding the role of the Learning Academy in facilitating knowledge creation and in changing organizational values and norms and regarding the building blocks required in designing it.

Brunel Business School and British Airways note that the rate of change across technological, economic, political, and socio-cultural aspects is increasing, and organisations are finding it more important to figure out how to manage perpetual change. This includes addressing how new missions, new goals, new products and services, new ways of getting things done, and even new values and assumptions are developed, sustained and managed. Corporate Universities, if managed appropriately, can help organisations to “learn how to learn” and to become self-designing systems.

Prof Amir Sharif, Brunel MBA Director

Professor Amir Sharif, Director of MBA Programmes notes,

Brunel Business School is very excited about this opportunity, particularly for our MBA students. This is a key anchor organisation for us and we feel this will strengthen the on-going collaboration between our University and a prestigious global brand such as British Airways. This is a great example of how our School is partnering with companies to add value in pursuit of our student learning, experience and employability goals. We look forward to other such emerging relationships with corporates and SMES.”

International Students Guide to Successful UK Employment

The award winning Placement and Career Centre of Brunel University shares with the Brunel Business School International Students some crucial tips on UK employment. Download thier Postgraduate Job hunting pack for tips on marketing your qualification, developing employability skills and vacancy sources. 

The two main hurdles that international students who wish to remain in the UK face are getting permission to remain in the country and actually finding a job. Quite often the one may be dependent on the other thus making it even more difficult.

Aside from the work visa issues, competition for graduate jobs in the UK is high for all graduates. You will be competing with students/graduates for whom English may be their first language and who may be more comfortable with the culture of the country. A degree or further qualification is no guarantee to finding a job, and it may be really difficult to persuade an employer that they should employ you.

You could try taking a copy of the Placement and Careers Centre (PCC) Guide for employers with you to help you persuade employers of your unique selling points. There is a lot you can do while you are studying to improve your chances.

Look at the tips below:

Why employers do not employ international students How you can improve
Poor English language skills Talk to UK students/housemates
Watch English news/films/TV
Use BI International Pathways Language Centre
Take an English course outside University
Participate during seminars
Attend University in-sessional courses and workshops
Poor written English Study language feedback for essays/projects and try to learn from mistakes
Attend University in-sessional courses and workshops
Don’t fit in easily Talk to UK people at every opportunity
Speak to your classmates
Contribute during seminars
Put out your cultural feelers and observe and learn from others’ behaviour
Don’t understand English work practices Look at Executive Planet for tips on how to behave in the workplace
Poor / inappropriate / unimpressive CVs for the UK market Read the CVs and applications section on the PCC website
Use action words, eg defined, co-ordinated, led
Attend workshops on CV preparation
See a Careers Consultant for individual advice
Poorly filled in application forms Arrange an interview with a Careers Consultant to find out about what employers expect of you
Think about skills and evidence
Check language and spelling
Poor interview skills Look at the interview skills pages on the PCC website
Watch the Making an impact DVD
Attend PCC workshops on interview skills
Arrange a mock interview with a Careers Consultant Talk to friends about their experiences
Cannot articulate or match skills to the job Undertake voluntary / community work, eg through Brunel Volunteers or look at the Do-It website
Learn how to analyse skills and provide evidence
Attend PCC workshops
Look at the ASK website
Qualifications don’t match to the UK requirements Ask Careers Consultants to help with equivalence
Visit the UK NARIC website
State UK equivalence clearly on CV or application form
See the Equivalence of qualifications link on the left hand menu
Poor networking skills Attend workshops on networking and building contacts with employers
Use all the relevant PCC web pages
Ask Careers Consultant/Tutor for help
Talk to everyone you meet, and make connections
Use LinkedIn and other social networking sites

Best Placement Employer and Student Awards

Interoute scooped the Special Placement Employer prize 2012 at the Brunel Business School Tutorial day on 27 February 2012. Thirteen employers were nominated by students for this award. Toby Robins of Wiles Greenworld, winner of the Best Placement Employer award in 2011 presented the award to the Best Placement Student, Best Placement Employer and the Special Placement Employer prize this year.

The Employer award recognises the exceptional effort the employer has put in to develop their placement student(s). This year a special award was given to Interoute for their concerted effort in building a special relationship with the university. Brunel Business School hopes to develop strategic partnership with Interoute in research, recruitment and wider community projects.

Interoute Group

Placement Employers Awards @ Brunel Business School

Interoute has been a part of the student placement scheme with Brunel University for two years. As part of the scheme 12 students join the company every year for 12 months, in order to gain invaluable first-hand experience in technology design and engineering; products and services; and marketing and finance. When making their selection, the judging panel was particularly impressed with the steps Interoute takes to integrate and develop these students within its organisation and the plans it has to further develop the partnership with Brunel and its students.

“We are very proud of our partnership with Brunel University and the part it has enabled us to play in investing in the next generation of business leaders. This award reflects our commitment to the IT industry, in ensuring that we are providing space and opportunities for graduates to thrive in an exciting, quickly evolving market. Receiving this accolade from the students themselves is testament to that commitment paying off and making a real difference to the outlook of students at the University.” said Interoute’s Recruitment Manager, Adrian Butler.

Best Placement Employer : Student must be able to demonstrate the following criteria when nominating employer for this award. 

  • Does the company have a structured programme?
  • How was induction conducted?
  • Training opportunities?
  • Guidance from manager?
  • How regularly does performance review take place?
  • Networking opportunities with staff?
  • Networking opportunities with external organisations?
  • Networking opportunities with other placement students?
  • How does the placement contribute to student’s personal and professional development?
  • Graduate opportunities/final year sponsorship

Best Placement Student: Employer must demonstrate the following criteria when nominating student for this award. 

  • Student’s attitude: enthusiasm, positive, flexible
  • Student’s performance:  time management, team work skills, communication skills, etc.
  • Student’s contribution: is this quantifiable

Student Placecements are run in collaboration with the award winning Placement and Career Centre of Brunel University.