MSc Corporate Brand students present their consultancy recommendations on the iconic Caledonian Sleeper Railway service to senior company managers

On February 20th, postgraduate students on the MSc Corporate Brand Management elective “Corporate Brand Management and Consultancy” presented their consultancy findings on the Caledonian Sleeper Company to senior managers Mr. Matthew Roche and Ms. Jane Spencer Contardo, along with Dr Sharifah Alwi (programme leader), Professor John M.T Balmer (module lecturer) and Dr Ana Canhoto (Divisional Leader of Marketing).


Both Mathew and Jane stated how impressed they were by some of the insights provided by the students, and noted how their presentations compared very favourably to those of corporate brand consultancies.

Programme leader, Dr Sharifah Alwi commented:

“It was impressive to see such polished and insightful presentations by the four groups of students. Group projects such as this are inherently stressful for a variety of reasons but it was clear to all that students had greatly benefited from this exercise.”


For his part, Professor Balmer remarked:

“The presentations are the culmination of an intensive period of work for the students which involved an intensive three day field visit to Scotland on the Caledonian Sleeper service to Fort William and a journey through the Highlands of Scotland to the company’s headquarters in Inverness before flying back to London.  This is the first time we have organised a field visit of this type and it was a most worthwhile experience for students.  This practical, hands-on, module shows how theory can be put into practice and very much reflects the ethos of Brunel University’s corporate brand. Organising this module was hard work and was, to be honest, quite exhausting for Dr Alwi and I, but was, all the same, rewarding!”

Brand pres photo

Celebrated author and railway expert, Andrew Martin, delivers guest lecture to MSc Corporate Brand Management students

Andrew Martin, celebrated author of the books “Night Trains”and Belles and Whistles,” which variously focus on the world’s iconic overnight train sleeper services, delivered a guest lecture to students on the MSc Corporate Brand elective on Corporate Brand Management and Consultancy on February 5th.


Picture shows Andrew Martin (centre) and Dr Sharifah Alwi with MSc Corporate Brand students


The guest lecture was at the suggestion of Professor John M.T. Balmer and was organised by Dr Sharifah Alwi (programme leader). Dr Alwi noted:

“This was a superb lecture which captivated and entranced all of us.  Andrew Martin provided an authoritative overview of Night Train sleeper services and gave insightful answers to students who are working on a real-time project on the British Caledonian Sleeper service.”


Professor John Balmer added:

“Andrew was a natural choice to give the guest lecture for this elective given his widely recognised expertise on sleeper services.  Having heard him speak about his work on BBC Radio 4 it was readily apparent that here was someone who could provide in-depth  insights on the Caledonian Sleeper company with verve and passion which can be found in his writing on railways including his railway detective novels about Jim Stringer. I know the students were thrilled that he read extracts from his books during his guest lecture. This is something, I believe, the students will always remember.”



MSc Corporate Brand students invited to the head office of Caledonian Sleeper in Inverness, Scotland

As part of their three-day project field visit to Scotland, focusing on the iconic Caledonian Sleeper train service, twenty students on the MSc course in Corporate Brand Management were invited by Kim-Thain (Marketing Manager)and Jane-Spencer (Guest Relations Manager) to visit the company’s headquarters in Inverness, on January 30th.

During their visit, the postgraduate students were given presentations by Kim Thain and Jane Spencer, and this was followed by an extensive Q&A session. Earlier that morning, the students had travelled from Fort William to Inverness on a two-hour coach journey through the dramatic, snow-covered, Scottish Highland countryside and passed Loch Ness.


Photo taken in Caledonian Sleepers’ HQ showing Marketing Manager Kim-Thain and Guest Relation Manager, Jane-Spencer at Caledonian Office, Invernessalong with MSc Corporate Brand students and Dr Sharifah Alwi and Professor John M.T Balmer


The field visit was organised by Dr. Sharifah Alwi (programme leader) and Professor John MT Balmer who jointly teach the elective on Corporate Brand Management and Consulting. The organisers would like to express their sincerest appreciation to the Head of Brunel Business School, Professor Jane Hendy and to the Director for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Grigorios Theodosopoulos for their support for this academic trip.

Professor John Balmer & Dr Sharifah Alwi organise research trip on the iconic Caledonian Night Train to Scotland: “The best sleeper journey in the world”

On the evening of Monday, 28th January, 20 postgraduate students on the MSc in Corporate Brand Management boarded the celebrated Caledonian Sleeper service from London’s Euston Station to Fort William. This is ‘the best overnight sleeper journey in the world according’, according to Lonely Planet.


The journey was part of their “live” case study assignment of the Caledonian Sleeper corporate brand, for their elective module on corporate brand consultancy and management. In selecting this iconic train brand for the assignment, Professor Balmer noted:

“The Caledonian Sleeper brand is a perfect case for our postgraduates in that whilst the corporate brand is small in scope it enjoys a global iconic heritage status. Moreover, at a time when most countries are ending their sleeper services, this brand is being reinvigorated with a 150 million pound investment which will see the introduction of new, state of the art, en-suite sleeper carriages which will come into service later on this year. We will be traveling on the 40 year old sleeper carriages before they are withdrawn in order to assess the problems and opportunities faced by the brand during a period of considerable change. The project is very much a dual collaboration between Dr Alwi and Professor Balmer, with Dr Alwi taking care of the logistics for the field visit.”


Brunel University’s Business School’s MSc in Corporate Brand Management was the first of its kind in the world. Launched in 2007, this is the first time a field visit spanning several days was been organised. Students on this year’s course come from the Far East, India, South America, Continental Europe and the UK.