BBS secures multi-million pound research grant share to develop policy analysis and evaluation tool

Brunel Business School has secured more that £380,000 to help develop an online tool which will enable citizens and policymakers to better evaluate and analyse the effectiveness of government policy.


The EU-funded Policy Compass project is led by Fraunhofer, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation. The three-year project has received a total grant of 2.7m euros, with £385,457 awarded to Brunel Business School. Dr Habin Lee, Reader in Management, supported by Dr Vishanth Weerakkody and Professor Zahir Irani, Head of Brunel Business School.

The project will develop the Policy Compass, a highly visual and easy-to-use tool for social networks and e-participation platforms.

This intuitive tool will enable the public, and professional policy makers, to increase the quality and transparency of policy analysis by allowing them to construct, share and debate progress metrics (variables that can monitor the progress of new policies or policy changes) and causal models of policies (models which show the cause-effect relationship between policy variables and indicators – e.g. the relationship between unemployment and educational attainment).

The Policy Compass project will make use of the increasing amount of data available across Europe to develop and integrate tools which empower citizens and policy makers to better assess government policies.

The Policy Compass will also allow policy makers to judge the expected impact of a policy change at the policy development phase, while further on in the cycle they will be able to use progress metrics to monitor the impact of policy changes at the implementation phase. Citizens will be able to define and monitor the progress of new policies and become more involved in future debates on proposed policy changes.

The Policy Compass will initially be trialled in Cambridgeshire, UK and Leningrad, Russia.

In Cambridgeshire the Policy Compass will be tested as part of the policy process around the new Skills Strategy for Cambridgeshire leading up to 2020, which aims to improve the skills of young people and adults across the region. The focus of the research in Leningrad will be on the Development of the Information Society in Leningrad region 2014-18.

Dr Habin Lee said:

“This is an exciting project that will change the landscape of public consultations currently exercised in Europe. The citizen’s role in policy modelling and analysis so far has been passive by providing opinion and waiting to see the outcome. Policy Compass will allow collaborative policy modelling and analysis between citizens and policy makers through a shared visualisation tool, allowing citizens to get one step closer to policy making.”

Students learn logistics strategy from Marks and Spencer Analyst

Last week the students from MSc in Global Supply Chain Management had the opportunity to learn theory through practice when a guest speaker, Victoria Forman a Logistics Analyst from Marks and Spencer, visited Brunel Business School. BBS M S Guest Speaker 12A

Natalie Dyas, one of the students, gives her account of the event.

“I found the guest lecture by Marks and Spencer extremely useful in helping me write my coursework. The presentation was very relevant to my coursework and it was fantastic to hear and understand real life examples about the supply chain of Marks and Spencer and I now have a number of ideas in putting the theory I’ve learnt from lectures into practice.  I would have benefited further from hearing more about M&S’s supply chain strategy in general as it delved down straight into a specific area (distribution centres), but I appreciate time is not on our side and I think the speaker was correct in detailing M&S’s most relevant and current project in in the hour given.

My interest in Global Supply Chain Management has increased after the guest lecture as there is truly nothing better than hearing current examples of how companies operate. I believe that hearing first hand experiences like this will help me become more attractive to employees as I will have not only gained theoretical knowledge, but I will also have knowledge about practical examples and the impacts on current supply chains from an internal perspective. I have always been interested in Supply Chain Management, however I never knew what area I wanted to go into, and after listening to the lecture and hearing about the movement of goods, I am leaning towards working in transportation/logistics.

It is events like these which make the Brunel Business School so fantastic and unique and guest lectures combined with the Business Life Programme are extremely valuable tools in helping students improve their business skills and get the most out of their studies. ”

Dr Afshin Mansouri, who invited the guest speaker, as part of Brunel Business Life Programme, said:

“Guest lectures help our students understand Logistics and Supply Chain Management better, its relevance, practicality and job prospects in this sector. Listening to guest speakers from the industry also helps students in developing a bigger picture of their MSc course as a whole. We had Victoria come over from Marks and Spencer, and we will have Jools Massey, Group Procurement Systems & Governance Manager of United Biscuit, come over next. It’s really exciting!”

Marketing Analytics in Business: Guest Lecture

Dr Suraksha Gupta has invited an interesting industry speaker to demystify the use of Marketing Analytics in practice as part of the Applied Corporate Brand Management course. In a guest lecture taking place on Thursday 24th October, Venkat S Anumula, a Datascience Manager at Manning Gottlieb OMD (part of Omnicom media group) will talking about statistical segmentation also known as clustering.

BBS students are invited to attend the lecture which will take place on Thursday 24th October at 3pm in Lecture Centre F.


From a practitioner point of view and using his most recent work for a big retail chain in the UK as a case study he will demonstrate how clustering can be used to understand the branding and local marketing of a particular store; how to use clustering to benchmark store performance; and what data is required and how to acquire more customers by optimising the marketing budget.

Venkat S Anumula holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and an MBA.  He has been working in the field of Marketing Analytics and “Big Data” for the last 10+ years. He has worked across multiple clients and sectors such as Waitrose, Specsavers, Virgin Media,, Renault, Matalan, 3, Unilever, P&G and Direct Line.

Second term for Prof Jarvis at European Banking Authorities (EBA) Banking Stakeholder group

Prof Rabin Jarvis

Prof Rabin Jarvis

Robin Jarvis, Professor in Accounting in Brunel Business School, has been appointed for a second term to the European Banking Authority’s Banking Stakeholder Group. The role of the group is to facilitate consultation and dialogue with stakeholders in all the areas relevant to the tasks of the EBA. Members of the group represent consumers, users and employees, as well as academia and various types of credit and investment institutions across the EU.

Professor Jarvis commented:

It is an honour to continue to work with other members of this EBA stakeholder group. This is a crucial time for the European banking system and consumer protection in the European Union, where harmonised prudential regulation is necessary to ensure the stability of the internal market. Consistent rules and regulation are also necessary to instil trust in the supervisory system.

The stakeholder group exists to establish dialogue and consultation across the many bodies involved in the work of the EBA. Of course, the accountancy profession has a huge part to play here. Such is ACCA’s interest in this policy area that we made this the topic for our recent ACCA President debate in Brussels. At this event there was general support for the Banking Union, while acknowledging serious challenges ahead. The event confirmed the need for the Euro area to have a stronger institutional framework to safeguard financial stability and avoid contagion.

The work of the EBA in this context is vital, so I am delighted to again be a member of this important group, and to continue to work for the EBA.”

BBS Researchers identify ‘Shopping Tribes’ in collaboration with Barclaycard

New customer segments have been classified following the research of Dr. Dorothy Yen and Dr. Maged Ali from Brunel Business School for Barclaycard. Our researchers analysed shopping behaviours to identify four modern shopping tribes:

  • The Bargain Hunter Gatherer: a promiscuous purchaser equipped with vouchers and multiple loyalty cards
  • The High Street Pounder: not afraid of negotiating prices with local shops and straying away from big chains or online shopping
  • The Screen Saver: inhabiting the world of online or mobile shopping
  • The Profit Prophet: super organised purchaser-researcher with fear of last minute sprees

Take the Barclaycard Quiz to find your tribe

Our researchers uncovered that a third of customers are very promiscuous in their brand choices, and just as many shoppers rigidly stick to the shopping lists to avoid uncontrolled spending. The recent tight years in UK contributed to shoppers change in attitude, and smart spending is very much in vogue.

BarclaycardThis research project was commissioned by Barclaycard – who designed the Barclaycard Freedom Rewards credit card with the modern shopper in mind and oversees nearly half of all card transactions in the UK – to better understand modern customer profiling and to identify the pattern of spending in different regions in UK. The findings of our researchers will enable Barclaycard and other companies to improve their marketing campaigns, by taking note of the new shopper tribes.

Dr Dorothy Yen

Dr Dorothy Yen

Dr. Dorothy A. Yen, a retail expert from Brunel Business School, said:

“It’s been fascinating to look at how modern life and the economic climate have impacted on our shopping habits. As a nation, we’ve evolved into incredibly sophisticated shopping experts. Some of us are clearly savvier than others but with the wealth of deals and loyalty incentives out there, we’ve all developed a system that works for us. What was particularly interesting for us was the clear emergence of four very specific shopping ‘tribes’ who encompass the key consumer attributes most prevalent at the checkout – real or virtual – today.”

Dr Dorothy Yen is the Course Director for the MSc in Marketing in Brunel Business School and lectures on Marketing modules across the Postgraduate range of courses in Brunel University.

Dr Maged Ali

Dr Maged Ali is lecturer of Business in Brunel Business School and has a multi-disciplinary research background in Information Systems, Cross-Cultural Studies and Business Management.

The project was based on analysis of Barclaycard spending data and consumer research carried by YouGov between 27th – 29th August 2013 with a total sample of 2,018 British adults online.

Women of Brunel write in support of International Day of the Girl Child

Today thousands of activists, students, schools, and organizations around the world join together to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, an official United Nations resolution established in 2011. This year’s theme – “Innovating for Girls’ Education” – focuses on how educating girls is the key to creating a better world for everyone. We’ve asked a few of our female academics to explain what they thought about this cause.

 “Education empowers a person with the ability to reason and evaluate alternatives and thus be resourceful in moments of crisis and/or despair.  Educated mothers show their children the way to evaluate alternatives.  I always regarded this as the best of all the blessings that my mother gave to me”

Prof Suma Athreye, Professor of International Strategy

 “Last year in the exam on entrepreneurship one of the open questions I asked was a very simple one:  “Why are there so few women entrepreneurs in the world?” About 35% of those who answered used one or more of the following arguments: because women are dumber than men, more scared of failure, less risk taking, not made to be entrepreneurs and besides they have to focus on raising a family. I hope that the students who wrote such answers were not female. And that’s NOT what I taught in class! That’s why it’s necessary to educate girls so that societal views of women change for the better. “

Prof Shyama Ramani, Professor of Innovation and the Social Enterprise

 “Girls across the world, across the continents, nations and cultures should have the right to free, unhindered access to education from primary education all the way to higher education; should be able to learn in a supportive, peaceful and harmonious environment with access to well trained teachers and the internet. When growing up they should have the freedom to decide the course of their education leading to their ultimate careers. Finally they should be free to choose who and when to marry.”

Dr Geraldine Cohen, Senior Lecturer of Marketing

 “A woman plays an important role in binding a family by keeping everyone together, shaping minds by instilling the ethical and moral values thereby improving the quality of life and living standards of individuals in a society.  Educating women becomes the key to creating a better world for everyone because education empowers her to become an active participant in development of a society and creation of a better world for everyone.”

Dr Suraksha Gupta, Course Director for Applied Corporate Brand Management and Lecturer of Marketing

Watch the International Day of the Girl Child Campaign Video to find out more about this initiative.


Prof Ramani NGO project brings change to life of rural communities in India

Brunel Business School Professor of Innovation and the Social Enterprise Shyama Ramani reflects on her NGO work and its effects on the life of girls in rural India, as we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child. She shares with us a story about an old grandmother and the wish of her dying granddaughter.

Prof Ramani works with a grandmother in India as part of her NGO project

Prof Ramani works with a grandmother in India as part of her NGO project

Today, Oct 11, is the International Day of the Girl Child, and this is a story of a very special girl and her grandmother who has been helping to bring up a number of her grandchildren. One of the girls was extremely handicapped and nearly blind, and her parents found her too difficult to raise, so the grandmother took care of her. The grandmother was one of the recipients of the prize for the toilet beauty contest – an NGO project I worked on with the local community as part of the Friend In Need Foundation, to generate user-driven innovations. This grandma had designed a foot path with different materials so that her blind granddaughter could more easily make her way to the toilet in the backyard. The grandma wanted the toilet especially for this precious girl as she and the family were facing many problems with helping this girl to go to the woods for defecation.

I visited all the prize winners a year after to find out what they had done with the money they won. I looked for the girl but couldn’t find her. “Where is she, grandma?” I asked. Grandma told me, “She’s dead – but she died happily – thanks to you and so I am at peace”. I became very uncomfortable, “how did she die?” Grandma explained, “As the most blessed of the Lords die, in her sleep.” I felt a tiny bit better, “And what what did you do with the prize money?”

Grandma drew in her breath, “You see, all her life because of her near total blindness, she had to wait for people to accompany her to find a secluded place for defecation. She said that if she could only get anklets that jingled loudly she would be able to find her way to those spots alone by learning the sound they make on the surface. But I was very afraid to let her go alone. Now, after building the toilet just behind the house, she finally became independent and she was so happy with it! So I spent the entire prize money to get the biggest and loudest pair of anklets I could find in the market! She loved them – and walked everywhere inside and outside the house with them. And she was right – she recognized the path to the toilet even better, because of the way the anklets clanked differently as she crossed different parts of the path. She smiled even more and she was so happy to get what she wanted all her life – those anklets. What more can I say, all is as God wills and those anklets, I will not give them to anyone and they will stay with me in my box of souvenirs as long as I live”.

After the conversation, we helped the grandma to empty the compost and we found some seeds for a fragrant flowering bush which we planted nearby in memory of the girl. It is real stories like these that make me go on in my action-research projects to ensure that every human being has access to a toilet on our planet – especially girls who are the most vulnerable.

Shyama V. Ramani is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise at Brunel Business School and the director of the Centre on International Business and Strategy in Emerging Markets at Brunel University. Prof Ramani holds a PhD in economics from Cornell University, USA. She is also a Professorial Fellow at the United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) at Maastricht, The Netherlands. After the tsunami of December 2004, she founded the non-profit organization ‘Friend in Need’, an action-research unit which aims to improve sanitation coverage and waste management in rural India. To find out more about Prof Ramani work in India please watch the video of her recent talk in TEDex.


BBS PhD Student Wins Accolade in Student Employee of the Year Awards

SankarFinal year PhD student Sankar Sivarajah from Brunel Business School, supervised by Prof Zahir Irani, was recently awarded Runner Up in the “Brunel International Student Employee of the Year” category at the Brunel University “Student Employee of the Year” Awards.  He was also recognised for his contribution as part of the “Student Team of the Year” at Brunel. Congratulations!

The awards are part of the 2013 National Student Employee of the Year competition. Brunel University submitted a total of 32 nominations to the 2013 National Student Employee of the Year awards; the 5th highest number of submissions amongst all UK Universities.

Sankar as a Senior Student Mentor for Brunel Residences was recognised for his contribution in providing excellent support service to the 4,500 or more students adjusting to university life. His responsibilities included conflict management, support and advice to new students in Brunel residences, co-ordination of welfare events as well as promoting and encouraging a sense of community amongst the students. Sankar spent two years in this role from 2011 to 2013.

Sankar works part-time as a Research Associate at Brunel Business School on a European Union funded project and is no stranger to hard work, having also been awarded the Best Overall Paper Award at the BBS Doctoral Symposium in March 2013.

Collaboration with SAS – a big boost for MSc Business Intelligence and Social Media

SASBrunel Business School is delighted to announce an exciting collaboration with SAS to provide valuable employability skills to our MSc Business Intelligence and Social Media students.

What is SAS?

SAS helps organizations anticipate business opportunities, empower action and drive impact. It is achieved through advanced analytics that turn data about customers, performance, financials and more into meaningful information. This in turn results into fact-based decisions for a bottom line impact by transforming the way companies do business.

SAS certificate for gradates

Following graduation a ‘certificate of completion’ will be provided which will differentiate our students with unique SAS Academy competencies who typically may command starting salaries of £40K. The SAS certificate for students is currently available in USA but not yet in the UK, although it may implemented next year. The collaboration between SAS and Brunel Business School reinforces our competitive advantage in contemporary business education.

SAS Career Fair

sas career fair

SAS will provide our MSc Business Intelligence and Social Media students with 6 placements every year, and more possibly through a careers Fair, first of which is to be held in Brunel Business School on 28 November 2014, with other employers who are looking to provide placements for students with SAS skills. It is evident that corporate clients are always seeking graduates with SAS skills and through the SAS Careers Fair it’s possible to bring employers and students together.

SAS skills in curriculum

We are now incorporating SAS skills into our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and through the Business Life programme. Our lecturers have received training, materials and  software, which will be translated into employability activities for our students.

To find out more about our MSc Business Intelligence and Social Media please visit the course website.