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“An increasing level of interaction has been accompanied by a degree of stress between traditional and western values.” Constructing identities in Indian networks (see pages 10–12)

Alumni Magazine for Durham University Business School

Spring 2014 Issue 25




update / A Weekend of Memories 06 Ain  lumni Durham


DUBS: The Early years

10 C onstructing identities in Indian networks

identities in Indian networks 12 Ccontinued...  onstructing/ Q&A




Face work in annual reports

18 Fa  ce work in annual reports continued... / introducing...


winter GRADUATION 2014

22 D UPEVC / The Magic of thinking BIG

24 Pu  tting power in its place: The centrality of edgelands





Dean’s welcome / news

local association news

BOOK REVIEW / Dates for the diary




A new year traditionally prompts one to look both forward and back, celebrating successes as well as taking stock of challenges. The School certainly has had much to celebrate over the past twelve months, including re-accreditation by two of our major global accrediting bodies – AMBA and AASCB. In addition we confidently await the outcome of the recent visit by our third accrediting body – EQUIS. Our triple-crown accreditation is something of which we are justifiably very proud.

Along with the rest of Durham University, one of the major tasks undertaken by the School reached a milestone in 2013 – the collating and reporting of the School’s impactful research for the Research Exercise Framework (REF). REF is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. We are assured by the strength of our submission and the results of the exercise will be known later this year. If you would like to learn more about the REF, or the School’s research generally, please contact me, or the Deputy Dean (Research) Professor Mark Learmonth. As with each issue of the alumni magazine, we have a number of articles showcasing our faculty’s research. In this edition we have: Constructing identities in Indian networks by Professor Nick Ellis (page 10), Putting power in its place by Professor Mike Humphreys (page 24) and Face work in annual reports by Dr Richard Slack (page 16). In terms of challenges, it cannot be denied that globally the MBA market has been testing, particularly with the emergence of many new Asian business schools. We are confident that the return of our full-time MBA programme to the top 100 of the Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking will endorse our status amongst the best programmes in the world. During 2013 we continued to focus on building and strengthening our academic and support departments, successfully recruiting a host of academic staff. Appointments included: chairs in Economics, Accounting and Energy Economics; professors of Accounting and Finance, Economics, Leadership, Management, Operations, Organisation Studies; a range of Senior Lecturers and Senior/Teaching Fellows and a Reader in Economics.

One such new member of faculty is Professor Sandra van der Laan who joined us from University of Sydney. Sandra is featured in the ‘Introducing’ piece on page 19. It is impressive to reflect on how Durham University Business School has developed since its creation in 1965. As we approach the School’s 50th anniversary next year we have asked some of our long-time, eminent supporters to share their recollections of the School when it was first established. On page 8 Professor John Machin, former Director of the School (1965–89) along with Professor Robin Smith, former MBA Programme Director (1970–91), reminisce about the fascinating beginnings of our, now global, business school. Like me, I hope you will agree that it is amazing to contemplate that this School, now with an alumni base of over 22,000, started with just four staff and a grant from a ‘Seedcorn Fund’. That funding helped pay for two lectureships, both from managerial posts in industry – one in engineering management in Rolls Royce, the other in financial management in Dunlop Rubber Co. I hope that you enjoy reading the articles in the magazine and are inspired to make your own contribution to the continuing success of the School. Contact the Alumni Relations Team to discuss the many, varied ways in which you can support the School. Best wishes for the year ahead. Professor Rob Dixon Dean












New Year Honours 2014 The Queen’s New Year honours included a number of Durham University Business School alumni: Edward Goodwin (Business Administration, 1985), who received the OBE for services to British education in the Middle East, and Superintendent Richard Mifsud (Enterprise Management, 2010), who was awarded the Overseas Territories Police and Fire Service Medal. Global MBA scholarship winner announced Marta Lopez Camara, a Shanghai-based Key Account Department Manager for facilities management company Aden Services, is the winner of the 2013 Global MBA full fee scholarship.

Partnership expands links with police A partnership between the School and Durham Constabulary has been awarded £49,000 by the College of Policing to expand links between academics and the police. The funding will allow the partnership, which specialises in researching the factors which affect police personnel performance, to forge new links with other police forces. Dr Leslie Graham, leading on the Business School’s involvement said: “Over the past two years, through the two-way sharing of experience, expertise and knowledge, DUBS and Durham Constabulary have established a successful and effective research partnership.” EAS fellowship honour for DUBS academic Laszlo Polos, Professor of Organisational Theory, has been appointed a fellow of the European Academy of Sociology (EAS). Founded in Paris in 2000, EAS is an informal fellowship of scholars with expertise across many areas of sociology, united in promoting rigorous standards in their discipline. Fellows are carefully selected and invited to join the Academy following a rigorous selection process.

Through completion of the Global MBA, Marta, a Spanish national, hopes to develop her skills to help bolster her career in management. Marta commented: “I am excited to have been selected from so many entries and look forward to starting my studies at Durham. For me, Durham is a perfect blend of tradition, modernity and excellence.”

University unveils plans for new landmark building Durham University has unveiled plans for a £10 million new building to house its world-renowned Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics. The new Centre building will be located next to the Physics department on South Road, Durham and will be designed by world-renowned architectural practice Studio Daniel Libeskind (SDL). The original Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, established by an earlier £2 million gift from the Ogden Trust, was opened in 2002. The new building has been made necessary by the Centre’s rapid growth and academic success, and will enable it to maintain its leading global position in the decades ahead. Medal congratulations Congratulations to Durham University’s Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen, on receiving the Queen’s Medal for Music for his work for charity and in particular for young people, through the Samling Academy.

Worshipful Company of International Bankers’ Lombard Prize winner Alumnus Weylin Poon (MBA 2011/12) is the recipient of the 2013 Worshipful Company of International Bankers’ Lombard Prize. Weylin received a cheque for £1,500 and a commemorative silver salver at the annual banquet of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers in March. The Lombard Prize was initiated by Alan Moore CBE in the early 1990s when he was Chairman of the Lombard Association and rewards one outstanding student each year from a university affiliated with the Company.

Additionally, congratulations go to Carlos Frenk (Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics and Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology) who has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Gold Medal for Astronomy – its highest honour – in recognition of a lifetime’s work in the field of cosmology and raising the international profile of UK astronomy.


ALUMNI – UPDATE Welcome to the 25th edition of the alumni magazine. I would like to thank all our alumni who volunteered or acted as a DUBS ambassador over the last 12 months. In 2013 more alumni volunteered to participate in our mentor scheme and attend our events across the globe than in any previous year. There are nearly 200 participants, including 97 alumni currently enrolled in our mentor scheme. We also have wider participation this year with much more representation from all Masters programmes, which make up the majority of our student population. In particular, the number of postgraduate finance students entering the mentor scheme has grown from 15% of the total mentee population, to 44%. This has inevitably increased the need for alumni mentors with a background in banking and finance. If you are reading this and think that you might fit the bill, please get in touch as I would welcome hearing from you. By the time you read this we will be well into our schedule of events for 2014 with our D8 master-classes in Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai having already taken place. Upcoming D8 events will take place in Mumbai, Delhi, London, Toronto and various cities in the United States. If you are based in one of these cities and would like to come along to a free interactive seminar on a range of business themes hosted by a member of DUBS faculty, visit our ‘Dates for the Diary’ section on page 31 for more details. We are also, as ever, extremely thankful for all our alumni contributions to our communications, not least this magazine. In this issue; we hear from Lindsey Gleason (MA Management 2011/12), inspired by the Dragons’ Den competition to set up her own international business following her Durham sports scholarship from the USA (page 14); Mary Goldsmith (MBA 1993/94) recounts her memories of the 20-year reunion she hosted in Durham

for her classmates (page 7); Geraint Evans (MSc Finance and Investment 2012/13) explains his motivation for setting up the Durham University Private Equity and Venture Capital group (page 22) and Varsha Dinodia gives a student perspective on how an alumni class gift benefited her MBA class (page 23). In our Alumni ‘Q&A’ section, Katharine Walker Mason (MBA 1993/94) tells us about her experience as Head of Global Sponsorships and Marketing at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (page 13). And one of our Global MBA students, Shacha Zamora reviews the book Service-Ability: Create a Customer Centric Culture and Achieve Competitive Advantage, authored by fellow alumnus Kevin Robson (MBA 1994/96) on page 30. Finally, you may recall that we undertook an alumni survey in late 2013. We summarised the outcomes for all alumni in a recent email report and I wanted to share a brief overview with our readers here. But before I do I would like to announce the competition winner. Richard Dunn (MA Marketing 2008/09) was selected at random from a list of alumni respondents and has been awarded a £100 Amazon voucher. Congratulations, Richard! Back to the results. Overall the response was fair with over 350 responses from a decent spread of ages, programmes and nationalities. It was unsurprising to see that respondents perceived the main benefits of the alumni network to be networking opportunities (69%). The most valuable careers service was the international jobs board (54%).

When asked about what support they wanted to receive from DUBS, many respondents listed services and resources that we already offer such as career consultations for alumni, a jobs board, social events, mentoring, CPD sessions and so on. This highlights that we need to do a much better job communicating these things! One thing that was pleasing was that 89% of respondents said they ‘somewhat agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the statement ‘I am very satisfied with the level of customer service from the Alumni Relations team at DUBS’. 78% also stated that they ‘somewhat agree’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they were ‘satisfied with the benefits offered to alumni’. Clearly there is room for improvement and we want to be aiming for 100%. Particular focus needs to be paid to the alumni directory to improve networking opportunities, as well as the design and functionality of the alumni website. We welcome any thoughts our members have to share with us on improvements to the alumni provision, both formally through surveys such as this, and informally by email to the Alumni Relations Team ( Best wishes Alexandra McNinch Alumni Relations Manager


A Weekend of Memories in Durham Twenty years since the full-time MBA class of 1993/94 left Durham University Business School they returned to reminisce over their time at Durham and create new memories in the City. This is their experience of the reunion weekend as told by alumni Mary Goldsmith and Colin Hunter. It was a small but perfectly formed group of 1993/94 classmates that gathered in Durham over the Lumiere weekend last November. The reunion kick-started on Friday night, at the Victoria Inn with Peter Manley holding court. As friendships were renewed, and stories were shared over a few pints, those 20 years rapidly dissolved. At the end of the evening Peter said we all looked the same – flattering and blatantly untrue but it put us in a great mood for the weekend! As we made our way back to Mill Hill Lane on Saturday morning, breathing in the nostalgia of the heady days of the MBA, it was clear that DUBS had moved on from 1994. The building has undergone a fabulous transformation, reflecting how the MBA has evolved over two decades. Coffees, more greetings for newly arrived friends and then we were treated to two master-classes with Graham Dietz and our former lecturer Peter Allen. As we sat around the conference room table it was impressive to see how much we had all grown and progressed beyond our MBAs. Global CFOs, heads of technology giants, renewed passions as teachers, sheriffs (there’s a story or two there), consultants, pilots, transforming large-scale organisations and social media career leaders. The mix was amazing, but in some ways we had not changed. The questions came from the same sources, the challenges from the regular characters, the banter and the healthy scepticism was rife. The memories were rekindled with a video from an old friend and classmate of our year, Hem, which put the icing on the cake.

During the afternoon some of us took the opportunity to take a private tour of the Cathedral, all thanks to Harry Vane, which was buzzing and looking its best for the Lumiere festival. The formal dinner at DUBS on Saturday night pulled the weekend together; topped off by a visit into the city which had been lit up like fairyland.


Those who finally made their way back to Durham were welcomed and enjoyed a fantastic weekend; with those who could not attend being missed but not forgotten as we looked back at the old pictures and yearbook. We are grateful for the staff who supported the reunion along the way – Alan Jessop, Bahadur Najak, Peter Manley and Lynn Thornber. We would also like to thank Alex McNinch and Katharine Aspey from the Alumni Relations Team whose patience and assistance made the reunion possible, and memorable. The success for this 20-year reunion was down to Mary Goldsmith with the baton for our 25-year reunion planned to take place in 2018 being handed over to Colin Hunter, who has created a Facebook page for the event. If you would like to be there please do join the group and/or keep in touch with the Alumni Relations Team.



Captured right: 1. The 1993/94 MBA classmates. 2. Former lecturer, Peter Allen’s master-class. 3. Formal dinner held at DUBS. 4. Video message from classmate, Hem.

If you feel inspired to reunite with your fellow cohort members, please contact the Alumni Relations Team at who will be happy to assist.



DUBS: The Early years As we approach the School’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2015, it is only fitting that we reflect on the past 50 years and of course, how the School came to be. Two of the most popular and well thought of ex-staff: Professor John Machin, former Director of the School (1965–89) and Professor Robin Smith, former MBA Programme Director (1970–91); recount the tale of the establishment of Durham University Business School and its early history.

It was becoming clear by the early 1960s that British business was no longer competing effectively in world markets. A quest began to identify causes and propose remedies. One factor immediately obvious was the lack of management educational opportunities within universities, contrasting with the position in North America and several European countries. With the expansion of universities following the Robbins Report came additional funding via the Foundation for Management Education. Durham successfully applied for ‘seedcorn’ money, and in 1964 a Management Development Unit was established. A Reader in Economics (Alan Odber) and a Senior Lecturer in Psychology (Charles Baker) were seconded into the Unit and two lecturers from industry (John Constable and John Machin) were recruited on three-year contracts. John Constable taught production and later business strategy, and John Machin finance and management control.

Within two years, the investment was manifestly showing results. When the four pioneers first met, none had ever been inside a business school, nor had they experienced management education at university level. Their plan was a twin-track approach. Initially they decided to offer residential courses for practising managers locally and nationally in 1965, a process aided by existing contacts with the then dominate Teesside industries of steel and chemicals and Tyneside engineering firms. Secondly, the expertise gained was a suitable platform from which to launch the MSc in Management Studies two years later, places being substantially oversubscribed. Both Constable and Machin won external funding to study for a year at Harvard, which reinforced their view that an effective Masters degree should be subdivided into three: core and optional modules, followed by a project dissertation. This fitted neatly into the classical university notion of terms.


The expansion model was thus fixed. Surpluses generated by post-experience courses were ploughed back to fund new teaching posts, and such was the confidence shown by the University that DUBS soon became a department in its own right, and staff were given permanent contracts. By 1974 new posts had been filled by Peter Manley (finance), Lyn Wilson (marketing), Mike Jenkins (computer science), David Longbottom (operations management), Jeffrey Rackham (behavioural science), Mike Reynolds (managerial psychology), Robin Smith and Derek Sawbridge (both industrial relations) and Bhadhur Najak (accounting). David Ashton came from Bradford Business School to head the post experience programme. Perhaps most significantly Allan Gibb, already a research fellow, was appointed in 1970 to the first post in small business, from which position he created the internationally known Small Business Centre.

In its early years DUBS had occupied space in Old Elvet, with its teaching room down an alleyway overlooking the Dun Cow pub. This became the effective common room and indeed on many occasions the unofficial seminar room. But in 1977 DUBS moved into the present site at Mill Hill. To describe it then as ‘purpose-built’ would be to stretch a point, since in a late cost-cutting move the planned dining room was axed. This proved a mighty challenge to the caterers – bedrooms but no dining room – who met it with great panache. Yet more short-course income rectified this anomaly within five years. In 1981 DUBS received its first-ever investigation from the Funding authority (the University Grants Committee) under their new powers. The Chairman was pretty complimentary on the whole, but he was concerned that compared with other schools we were low in staff numbers. He did note however that on an earned income per head basis we were higher

even than the mighty London Business School, favourably located in Regent’s Park. Growth continued. The title MBA was introduced to enhance global appeal, followed by the open-learning MBA for those who could not take a year away from work. But change was in the air for all universities as the 1980s rolled on, with funding shifting towards research as measured by output in academic journals. This proved a greater challenge for business schools than conventional university departments, which had not needed to earn income to fund growth. By the 1990s, recruitment of staff to DUBS increasingly reflected this requirement. In the twenty-first century, the merger of DUBS with economics and accounting consummated the transition of an institution that still holds dear to that early notion of education for the betterment of all nations’ prosperity.

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES... We are planning to create an online archive to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the School. If you have any old photos or memorabilia that you would share for the online archive please contact Alex McNinch ( If you are interested in reconnecting with Robin or John, or indeed to register your interest in attending the School’s 50th anniversary celebrations on 10-12 April 2015 please contact:

Left: The 1977 ‘purpose built’ Mill Hill site. Above: The Business School as it stands in 2014.


Constructing identities in Indian networks

Professor Nick Ellis joined Durham University Business School as Head of Department of Marketing in 2011. He started his academic career in the Midlands at the University of Derby and, more latterly, the University of Leicester. His broadly interpretivist research approach embraces marketing and organisation studies, with publications in leading journals across both disciplines. His work here with peers Dr Michel Rod, Dr Tim Beal and Dr Val Lindsay concentrates on discourses of marketing management in inter-organisational relationships in India.


The world, they say, is getting smaller – and as it does so, there is increasing interaction between businesses, domestically and internationally. Such interactions inevitably lead to ongoing change in how such business-to-business (or B2B) relationships function and how the managers perceive the businesses – and themselves – as participants in a world-wide context. In many cases, as a domestic business ‘goes international’ either in terms of trading partners or in terms of growth or merger, localised or traditional methods of doing business will come up against others and must adapt or compromise. A team of researchers from universities in England, Canada and New Zealand has conducted a study into the impacts of such change upon the perceptions of individuals and companies in Indian business. Why India? The traditional versus the modern It is perhaps an oversimplification to say that there is a distinction between a traditional and a western approach to business, but there are certainly differences between them. Nick Ellis and his colleagues chose to focus on India and its trading links with New Zealand for several reasons. One was that the latter had identified India as a major potential market to look at the internationalisation of New Zealand service firms, and a second was linguistic, given that English is widely spoken among the interviewees (although this was also a limiting factor as it excluded non-English speakers from the survey process). A third reason was purely practical, in that three of the four co-authors were based in New Zealand at the time. To date, little work has been done with regard to India’s business experience but economic liberalisation in the 1990s and more recent deregulation have led to restructuring of the way management relationships and B2B networking operate within the country. Such restructuring inevitably leads to the building of new business relationships between firms, not just within India but within a global context.

An increasing level of interaction has been accompanied by a degree of stress between traditional and western values (the traditional including, for example, the fact that ‘wealth obtained via trading is … crucial for gaining religious credit’). Despite the fact that the colonial and post-colonial legacy has led to a replication of western business models, this dichotomy remains problematic for many Indian business managers as they attempt to balance the demands and expectations of two culturally different approaches. Previous studies have demonstrated this, identifying the significance of traditional values (such as family) alongside the wider more westernised values (such as professionalism). Identifying perceptions: the study method The study focuses strongly on the perceptions of Indians involved in business with respect to themselves and to others. This, like so many other aspects of self-awareness is expressed through the use of language. Whereas previous studies have been largely quantitative, the research team adopted a fundamentally different approach – one which involved a discursive element alongside a straightforward survey process. By directly engaging with those involved in business, and allowing them to use their own words, the team were able to add an interpretive strand to their assessment of business networks. They conducted semi-structured interviews with 23 individuals involved in business deals between India and New Zealand – not just in manufacturing and service industries but involving other stakeholders such as those from government and trade organisations. Introducing a discursive element to the methodology, rather than adopting a purely quantitative approach, allowed the team to look beyond the facts of change and consider some of the complexities associated with it. The choice of language used by participants during the interviews reflects tensions between traditional and western approaches – a spectrum in which participants have to position themselves.

With this in mind, the analysis of the quantitative element (the semi-structured interviews) focused upon the language used by the participants. Analysis of transcripts was computer-based and identified key words and phrases which were used repeatedly. The team were able to identify six sets of linguistic usage, which they termed ‘repertoires’ and used as a basis for interpretation and discussion. Theses were derived partly but not exclusively upon the frequency with which particular words and phrases were used. Language and identity: the ‘repertoires’ The six repertoires relate to key concepts in terms of business networks and personal identity. Three of these were self-contained – namely ‘networks’, ‘past and present practices’ and ‘managerial expertise’. The other three (‘globalisation’, ‘Indian management systems’ and ‘relationship management’) were termed parent repertoires and contain subgroups (called child repertoires) – for example, the parent group relationships included child groups such as commitment, trust and mutuality.

“ To date, little work has been done with regard to India’s business experience but economic liberalisation in the 1990s and more recent deregulation have led to restructuring of the way management relationships and B2B networking operate within the country.”

The findings revealed patterns in the use of language which reflected the tensions between cultural methods of doing business. The ‘network’ repertoire, for example, related to a national identity for India, while discussions under the heading ‘globalisation’ identified two approaches – one, ‘accepting’, which used more western business terms; and a second, ‘questioning’, (which was rarer) which strove to assert the perceived national identity more strongly.


Both the ‘past and present’ and ‘Indian management systems’ repertoires reflected the existing dichotomy. The former was characterised by language which recognised conflicts between ancient and modern: the researchers note that “India (‘we’) is portrayed as partly comprising a business-like group of people who have ‘changed’ thanks to ‘dealing’ with ‘foreigners’, but also many others who have not”. The latter, with its varying child repertoires, picked up on perceived variation at a number of levels – big versus small, India versus China and so on. Perhaps most tellingly, the majority of respondents used language represented in the ‘relationship management’ repertoire and this drew on values such as trust, mutuality and the benefits of an expert partner. Lastly, the repertoire of ‘management expertise’ gave clues as to how the individual participants placed themselves within their business background – a positioning in which, the researchers noted, “virtually all the managers we spoke to begin their answer by highlighting their education before mentioning their business role or their upbringing”. Learning from the discursive approach The survey had its limitations and the research team acknowledged these. Not only was the sample relatively small but the circumstances meant that there was a bias towards males, towards English speakers and towards those with a certain

level of education, meaning that a significant part of the Indian workforce was excluded. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, the team’s use of interpretation rather than a purely statistical methodology (although the quantitative element was employed in creation of the repertoires) sheds new light on the subject of B2B networks in India. So what does this new approach tell us about perceptions of network building between India and elsewhere? The researchers identified a vertical hierarchy consisting of national, organisational and individual identity. Within that, the tension between the modern and the traditional looms large. As the researchers note: “Findings tend to echo the tension between traditional and modern management values co-existing in India”. Despite this, however, they also found that the individuals interviewed were able to respond to the difficulties they faced and were able to move between the two worlds, the modern and the traditional, with what the team describe as “consummate sensitivity to the dynamics of inter-organisational relationships”. Moving forward: learning from the study The rapid expansion of the Indian economy and the consequent evolution of the business networks which form its building blocks are affected by tensions and this is demonstrated by the choice of language among individuals who work within them. The study therefore offers not just an

indication of such tensions but also identifies how managers respond to them and, as such, how they influence the decision-making process. The choice of language, the researchers conclude, is crucial to the forward movement of management. This study served as the basis for a subsequent piece of research which explored how managers in different cultural contexts made sense of the notion of ‘value’ in inter-organisational B2B relationships between New Zealand service firms and buyers in China and India. The results of the second study suggested differences between the two buying countries, with Indian discourse leaning towards value rather than cost-effectiveness (which was the case in China). In particular, the Indian managers used language to vocalise a view of partnership which involved a high service input through which they and their partners could work to create an added value to the partnership process. By contrast, the Chinese managers’ use of language was more closely focused upon the quantifiable aspects of the partnership, such as increasing cost-effectiveness or filling gaps in the supply chain – resulting in a more transaction-based interpretation of value.

To find out more about this study please contact Professor Nick Ellis (

Q&A Q. What is your current role? A. I am currently Head of Marketing for the EMEA region of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, supporting the Global Banking and Markets businesses of the bank. Q. What would you say has been the most satisfying aspect of your career so far?

Katherine Walker Mason (MBA 1993/94) talks about her career and life post-Durham. She is a marketing professional within the competitive banking sector in the ‘City’. Although based in London, Katharine has always worked within a large multinational organisation and enjoyed frequent travel to the Far East as well as North America.

A. Later this year I will have worked in the City for 20 years. During this time I have worked for three different banks -- what has been most satisfying has been the variety of the roles I have done, and the global nature of the organisations and people I have worked with. Q. What would you describe as your main strengths and how have these led you to where you are today? A. For any given project, I feel that my ability to work out what needs to be done, gather a relevant team of people and skills, and execute flawlessly has been an important strength. The ability to manage multiple projects and multi-task is also very helpful. Q. What are your fondest memories of your time in Durham? A. Durham was a wonderful time for me. I loved the history and peacefulness of the City. It is a great place for study and student living.


Q. Do you feel that your Durham degree and connections have helped your career? A. When I graduated from Durham, the jobs market was extremely tough and many of the City institutions had halted their graduate programmes. Being a young MBA helped me stand apart from other applicants and succeed in gaining a place on the UBS graduate programme, a wonderful entry point into investment banking. Q. What is the most exciting thing you have done since graduating? A. For me the international travel aspects of my job have been most enjoyable. Work has taken me to many places, from Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong, to New York, Washington and Miami. Q. If you were to offer some advice to current students, what would it be? A. My advice is to put effort into finding the best entry-level point you can, ideally as part of a graduate programme. Try to find an area that you are passionate about and where there is a good match with your skills. Q. What about your plans for the future? A. My plans for the future are to continue to find enjoyment in my job, and keep my work/life balance in check.


TeamGLEAS Durham University Business School (DUBS) has had a long history of supporting small business and entrepreneurs. One of our recent graduates was motivated to follow her dream of working for herself and doing what she loves. Lindsey Gleason (MA Management 2011/12) came to Durham on a sports scholarship from the USA as part of the University’s Team Durham programme. Her participation in another Durham initiative, the Dragons’ Den competition inspired her brainchild. Here she tells her story… Prior to 2011, I studied Business Management and Leadership at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY where I played for the NCAA Division II Women’s Volleyball program. At that point in my life, I knew that I eventually wanted to get my Masters degree and I had always wanted to study abroad, but the constraints of American college sports don’t always allow for opportunities to study overseas. In 2011, I came across an advert to study at Durham and continue playing volleyball. I knew I couldn’t turn it down. I picked up my life in Buffalo, NY, and moved to the UK to join DUBS and continue playing volleyball on a Team Durham scholarship. I moved to England in September of 2011, began my course in October, and started my own company in July 2012 while I was still a student and also working at the Olympics in London. I have Durham University, and DUBS in particular, to thank for pushing me to pursue my dreams and build my own business, TeamGLEAS. TeamGLEAS (TG), which stands for ‘globalising education and sport,’ is a social network free to student-athletes that gives students the tools to find opportunities to earn a degree and continue competing in sports overseas. TG helps connect students directly with universities looking for skilled players. Like myself, there are thousands of student-athletes across the US eager to study abroad while continuing to play their sport. However, until now, few have known that these opportunities even exist.

TG simplifies the recruitment process for both the athlete and the coach by helping match students to universities based on degree programme, sport, position, location, skill level, etc. Luck helped me find an opportunity to play and study at Durham, but not everyone is so lucky. TG was created to fill a gap in the system, to raise awareness throughout the world that playing and studying doesn’t have to be limited to your home country, and it doesn’t have to end until you’re ready for it to. What sets TG apart from traditional study abroad placements is that the opportunities we provide are long-term rather than one-semester programs. You get to fully immerse yourself in another country and its culture for a year. That’s a lot different from just spending a few months abroad. You have time to really indulge and explore your environment and the nearby cities and countries. Eventually, our broader vision for TG is that we’ll have connections and working relationships with universities all over the world. Right now all of our partner institutions are within the UK, but expansion is already in the works for Australia. While we’re constantly networking and looking into new markets, it’s important to keep our current partnerships strong and not expanding too quickly. For now, we’re focused on creating a solid structure and streamlining the process in the UK.


How TeamGLEAS Started: Dragons’ Den: Durham University Business School holds an annual competition known as Dragons’ Den, based on the reality show featuring entrepreneurs who pitch their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists for investment. Shortly after starting my degree program at Durham, I heard about the Dragons’ Den and thought participating would be a really cool experience. I had no business proposal, but entrepreneurship and startups really interested me, so I thought, why not? A few weeks before the first round of competition, I had to force myself to come up with something. I asked myself, “What need isn’t being met well yet? What experiences have I gone through that I feel could have gone better?” The answer was pretty obvious. For me, the process of getting overseas was frustrating, hectic, and extremely confusing. There’s no reason it should have been so complicated. I loved everything about playing volleyball and studying in England, and felt passionate about helping others do the same and see the world. I knew this is what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. There’s a very real need for a company that promotes international playing opportunities for students that also provides resources to streamline the process. There are countless opportunities overseas, and plenty of students to fill the spots; students who aren’t ready to give up on their playing careers; students who never got to study abroad during the undergraduate experience but always wanted to. There are too many to ignore. I want to play a part in changing the way American students view the world and their place in it. So, I entered my proposal of TeamGLEAS into the Dragons’ Den competition. Initially, my proposal was completely rejected, even before pitching. Luckily, Professor Ian Stone, who organises the competition, realised its potential and found a way for me to stay involved. I won the first round, was runner-up in the grand final, and haven’t looked back since.

Professor Ian Stone commented: “Lindsey is typical of a growing number of students who take on the New Venture Creation module and become involved in one or more of our enterprise competitions in the course of their time here and discover that, actually, starting a business is a real alternative to developing a career as an employee.”

Participating in the competition was such an incredible experience. Karen Langdon, my Dragons’ Den mentor, was fantastic and helped me distinguish between what investors want to hear and what they don’t. My passion for all the things that TG represents is off the charts so it’s easy for me to get caught up in the emotional aspects of the company, the warm and cosy bits that don’t concern investors. They want numbers and proof of a target market. Today, I use these skills when pitching to potential university partners. Starting a business while attending a business school was ideal. I had every resource I could possibly need right in front of me. If I had a full-time job or a family I never would’ve been able to pull it off. Once I informed my professors that I was going to start a legitimate business, they allowed me to apply the rest of my assignments toward cultivating TeamGLEAS. Ian Stone’s New Venture Creation module required a business plan, and flexibility within the rules allowed for me to write one for TG. I needed to carry out market research for TG, so my dissertation supervisor, Sue Miller, helped

me craft a research question that backed the development of TG. The support I received from DUBS throughout the initial start-up process was overwhelming. The School encouraged me to move forward with my business by applying what I was learning in the classroom. Knowing that TG is helping connect students with life-changing opportunities is, by far, the most rewarding part of my work. Getting a degree and playing overseas are the obvious benefits of being a TG athlete, and they’re priceless experiences on their own, but there is so much more to it than that. Living abroad makes you challenge yourself. You’re forced to grow as a person and eventually, without even realising it, you start to look at the world differently. Studying and playing overseas enhances the lives of the students, for sure, but it also enhances the lives of those around them. There’s a ripple effect here that takes place. We’re giving so many other people, like our students’ family and friends, a reason to get outside of their comfort zones and see the world. I can’t ask for a better career than that!

Should you wish to find out more about the Dragons’ Den competition, or supporting future students via scholarships please contact Alex McNinch via


Face work

in annual reports Dr Richard Slack joined Durham University Business School in 2012 as a Senior Lecturer in Accounting. Richard’s academic career started at Northumbria University where he was awarded his doctorate which examined the use and usefulness of voluntary disclosure narrative (social and environmental) provided by companies in their annual reports. Prior to that he worked at Kaplan Financial Training and Price Waterhouse as a chartered accountant. Here, with two of his peers, David Campbell, Newcastle University Business School and Ken McPhail, La Trobe Business School, Melbourne, he reports on a study of the management of encounter through annual reports, informed by Levinas and Bauman. Anyone who has had cause to look at a company’s annual report in the past decade or so will surely have been struck by the presentation – colour, images, graphical representations of data, interspersing of pictures and text. These glossy, easy-on-the-eye documents, full of smiling faces, provide a stark contrast to the text-dense and often impenetrable documents more familiar in years gone by.


So what is behind the shift in style, and how significant is it in numerical terms? And how do the subtleties of the shiny happy people we see on the pages affect us as individuals? What we see in these reports, as elsewhere, influences us in many subtle ways. The authors and designers of annual reports and other documents seek to influence the responses among their readers – whether they are customers, investors or employees. Researchers David Campbell, Ken McPhail and Richard Slack looked into the shift towards pictorial representation of human faces in these reports and placed them in the context of what they describe as ‘accounting ethics’ and moral philosophy.

Changing Times and Changing Images This research isn’t the first piece of work to identify and quantify an increase in images in annual reports: the academics cite several other studies which have looked at the same theme in the US during the 1980s, a time when the visual nature of company documents altered significantly and dramatically. This study included a quantitative assessment based upon a review of 210 annual reports,

comprising an unbroken sequence from each of 14 large UK companies over a period of 15 years. Selected so that they were unaffected by any major shift in management structure or philosophy (such as merger or demerger) which might have a fundamental influence on the in-house design processes, these reports provided evidence of trends in visual output, beginning in 1988. The numerical analysis was straightforward and the results, unsurprisingly, are conclusive. Excluding pictures of directors and senior company personnel, the number and percentage of images of the human face in the documents assessed increased significantly across the study period. In 1989 the average number of such images per document was around 20 but had almost tripled by 2002, and in one case, 90% of pictures included a human face.

The Academic Context: Levinas and the Ethics of the Other Rather than examine the trend from a design perspective, the researchers looked at it in terms of moral philosophy and the way we, as individuals, view the face as an ethics encounter and other people. Understanding the context for their evaluation requires knowledge of some

of the threads of study in moral philosophy and related disciplines such as ethics. The twentieth-century French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas outlined a theory which he called the ‘ethics of the Other’, in which, put very simply, an individual’s relationship with the Other – that is, a person who is not themselves – is defined by their response to the image of that person, so that seeing a face may trigger an ethical interaction. The relevance of this to the study lies in the fact that the human face, whether in the flesh or in a picture, is crucial to ethical responses because morality is represented in the face. Its use in such commercial documents as annual reports (‘an economic perspective based on self-interest’) therefore seems potentially contradictory and raises issues as to how, and to what extent, these images are intended to influence the person who views them. In their paper, Campbell, McPhail and Slack evaluate how this very modern use of imagery fits into a complex philosophical background. In doing so, they identify three key issues to consider – an understanding of the image as the Other, as Levinas outlined; a consideration


of the extent to which such use implies the undermining (deliberately or otherwise) of the concept of the face; and an examination of how the changes in representation function in an ethical sense. In doing so they explore the idea that this use of the face for commercial purposes is effectively dehumanising and so goes against the traditional human response to a human face other than their own.

Perspectives Quantifying the preponderance of human images in commercially-targeted documents is fairly straightforward but the influences of these pictures extend beyond their number. To understand their impacts, we must consider the perspectives from which they are taken, their content, the motivation of the author or designer and the message that they are intended to convey. In other words, it isn’t just about the pictures themselves but about ‘how they work’. Such an assessment relies on an understanding of different approaches. It is not just the content of the image which is important: the motivation of its creator and its influence in positioning

the viewer are equally important. The latter is particularly worthy of note, as it establishes a power relationship between the viewer and the viewed, positioning the one with respect to the other. Such relationships are long-known – the researchers cite the example of historical portraits – and continue to be significant today.

So what about the commissioning agent? Obviously, such documents are intended to serve a specific commercial purpose and the photographs included are carefully chosen with that end in view. How does the author, or commissioner, or designer, influence the content and our response to it? How does it relate, in other words, to Levinas’ concept of the face as the Other?

In order to address the implications and motivations, the researchers looked beyond the quantitative assessment of the images. Content is, of course, key and they found that there was a wide range of human faces employed throughout the reports.

Back to the Other

They identified a variety of different approaches employed by the photographers, engaging the viewer with the subject in a number of different ways. In some cases the images imply direct engagement – with a subject looking directly at the camera, or appearing to offer a product. Alternative approaches involve ‘looking in’ on a scene, such as healthcare provision, or else the perspective of the photo may serve to offer the viewer a driver or machine operator’s point of view from, say, inside a cab.

The relevance of this to the study lies in the fact that the human face, whether in the flesh or in a picture, is crucial to ethical responses because morality is represented in the face.

In considering how an organisation seeks to use the relationship between the image of the human face and the reader to communicate a particular concept or image, the researchers bear in mind the fact that each image will be seen by different categories of viewer – the customer, the shareholder, the employee. This makes it difficult to determine exactly what the ethical encounter and impact will be, as it varies according to the nature, means and motives of those participating. Although Levinas and other philosophers have interpreted the face of the Other, with its requirement for the assumption of responsibility for, or surrendering responsibility to, the owner of the viewed face, the mobilisation of the human image as a marketing tool raises interesting questions. The researchers argue that such usage of the human face is not intended to be morally challenging but rather the opposite – to be reassuring and encouraging for the viewer. Nevertheless, they don’t reject the moral dimension but assert that it remains with the spectator to assume responsibility for the ‘Other’. Further, they argue that although large organisations use the faces of individuals to present a corporate image, that image is made up of individual faces – which in themselves represent an ethical challenge.

To find out more about this collaborative research please contact Dr Richard Slack at


introducing... Sandra van der Laan – Professor in Accounting and Finance. Sandra van der Laan joined Durham from the University of Sydney where she obtained her PhD and taught for the past 13 years. She has formal qualifications in accounting, finance and education. Sandra has an active interest in innovative teaching methods that aim to improve the learning outcomes for students. Her research interests lie in accounting in two broad areas. The first centres on accounting as a social discourse and accounting as a mechanism to discharge accountability. The second strand of research is centred on corporate regulation. This has led to an interest in the reporting, governance and audit of corporate groups. Sandra has published her research in a number of top ranking international learned journals and has received support to pursue her research from government funding agencies such as the Australian Research Council and professional bodies, such as CPA Australia and ACCA.

What are the most challenging parts of your job? I find there are three key challenges to be being an accounting academic. First, in the globalised business environment it is exceedingly difficult to maintain currency in such a dynamic regulatory and professional context. So, I always feel like there is not enough time to stay up to date on everything and have to prioritise. Another major challenge is to stimulate and engage students, many of whom who undertake studies in accounting for non-traditional reasons, in what is generally viewed as a dry and possibly even boring discipline. Introducing students to the interesting, exciting and economically important aspects of the discipline and its effects of society requires breaching the prejudice and preconceptions of students. Finally, I find it very challenging to have an appropriate work-life balance. Between teaching, research, administration and professional engagement, I find being an academic, particularly on a joint contract in different hemispheres, requires a very patient and understanding family!

What do you want to achieve? I would like to think I can make a difference, both in my teaching and research. I would like to inspire students to develop an appreciation for the importance of the social and institutional aspects of accounting and to think that they may have the imagination and foresight to lead the discipline in the future and develop new ways to meet both the current and future challenges of the profession, for example environmental accounting and carbon accounting.

In terms of research, I would like to both contribute to and learn from the vibrant research community at DUBS. As an interdisciplinary and critical researcher, I am continually seeking new ways of looking at business problems and hope that the environment at DUBS can expand my horizons and allow me to develop new connections and mentor junior researchers.

What drives you? The belief that society generally does not understand the power of accounting. Accounting is used as a justification for decisions in so many contexts (government spending, downsizing, outsourcing etc.) without people understanding how malleable it can be. Also, accounting technologies, such as audit, pervade society. So through research, research-led teaching and contribution to public debate I want to demystify accounting and its consequences.

What was the best career advice you were given? To remember that an academic is a public intellectual! We are paid to think and to teach and have a responsibility to society as we draw on public funds. I take that responsibility very seriously and focus my teaching and research efforts with that in mind. What are you currently working on at Durham University Business School? I am currently working on several projects. But the one nearest to my heart is an ongoing project with a colleague from Australia on various aspects of long-tail liabilities, in particular, asbestos liabilities. Accounting regimes struggle to deal with issues that span long periods of time or are hard to monetarise, like people who are sick or die due to asbestos exposure.

You can read more about Sandra’s work and interests on the Academic Faculty section of the Business School website:


winter GRADUATION 2014

Chris Higgins, the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, welcomed Business School graduands to Durham Cathedral on Thursday 16 January where he conducted the formal Congregation ceremony. Following the service, the newly graduated alumni continued the festivities with their families at the newly extended and refurbished business school at Mill Hill Lane. Part of the celebration event included a number of presentations from Programme Directors to individual classmates in recognition of their academic achievements.

DUBS Alumni Network Competition! As part of our Graduation celebrations, the DUBS Alumni Network asked graduates to describe their Durham experience in one word and then post a picture of themselves with their word on the DUBS Alumni Network social media groups. Congratulations to Anthony Eric Tan (MSc Finance) who was announced as the winner and has been awarded a £100 Amazon gift card; posting a picture of himself on our Facebook group with the caption ‘Legen-(wait for it)-dary!’.


AWARDS AND ACCOLADES MSc Management awards – Best Academic Performance: MSc Human Resource Management: Alexander Wight MSc Financial Management: Yaozhong Yu MSc Management: Fabia Strathdee MSc International Business Management: Christina Keller Best Dissertation and Best Overall Academic Performance: Yaozhong Yu MSc Finance awards – Best Academic Performance: MSc International Banking and Finance: Saurabh Nath MSc Finance and Investment: Danqing Qiu MSc Finance: Simone Nogarè MSc Corporate and International Finance: Xin Zhao and Tzu-Ying Chen MSc International Money, Finance and Investment: Chenlu Zhang MSc Accounting and Finance: Weiwei Xu MSc Economics and Finance: Nana Daudu Best Overall Academic Performance: Simone Nogarè Best Dissertation in the Finance programmes: Yue Xu MA/MSc Islamic Finance awards – Best Academic Performance: MA Islamic Finance: Faruq Tajul Ariffin MSc Islamic Finance: Astrid Fiona Harningtyas Best Dissertation and Best Overall Academic Performance: Astrid Fiona Harningtyas MSc Marketing awards: Best Academic Performance: Shreen Nobbel Moses Best Dissertation: Esther Wallace, Margaret Manville and Jingshu Xie Full-time MBA awards: Best Business Project (award sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent): Sebastian Bahr and Tara Case Best Overall Academic Performance (award sponsored by Worshipful Company of International Bankers): Sebastian Bahr Student Who Contributed Most (chosen by the cohort): Mia Orcullo Best Dissertation: Anant Sonar Global MBA awards – Best Academic Performance: Global MBA (Finance): Ivan Rajkovic Global MBA: Christopher Rimmer Best Dissertation: Oliver Plumpton Beta Gamma Sigma Membership was awarded to the following students in recognition of their academic achievement: Full-time MBA: Sebastian Bahr, Tara Case, Srinivasan Rajaraman, Anant Sonar and Tania Fang Global MBA: Christoph Breetz, Kevin King and Ivan Rajkovic.


DUPEVC As many of you will appreciate, Durham University fosters an innovative and a holistic approach in terms of the education of our students. Coming to Durham isn’t merely about getting an excellent academic experience; pastoral care is also one of our USPs. We encourage individuals to experience music, sport and drama as well as other professional activities that will enhance their employability. The Durham University Private Equity and Venture Capital group (DUPEVC) is Durham University Business School’s newly formed student organisation that was set up to do exactly that. As well as improving its member’s employability prospects, it helps students expand their knowledge about a sector that its founding members were fascinated in. Here, one of the founding members, Geraint Evans (MSc Finance and Investment 2012/13), pictured above, along with the group’s current President, Lukas Blaimschein (MSc Finance and Accounting 2013/14) explains what the group is all about.

The group was created in 2012 by two MSc Finance students wishing to pursue careers in Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC). Having noted the split between the academic literature and market practice, they aimed to bridge the gap by involving market practitioners within the academic sphere. Both founders remain involved in the group, though the leadership has passed onto a hand-selected group of the 2013/14 cohort, and it is through them that the group seeks to achieve its founding aims. The groups activity can be broadly split into four: the market report, speaker events, sponsorship and business case studies. The market report team is responsible for creating a quarterly report summarising the most recent and compelling industry news and trends. There are five teams reviewing and monitoring PE and VC activities within their dedicated regions. The geographical focus spans Western Europe, CEE and Russia, Africa and Middle-East, Asia and the Americas. With those five groups, we manage to critically monitor PE and VC activities on a global

scale. Whilst obviously being of tangible benefit for a CV, the analysts of the market report team take great pride in producing sterling pieces of literature. Each group is free to either create a report of a recent transaction or to provide an outlook of general activities within the dedicated region. As a final goal, we want to create market reports that equally satisfy highest professional standards as well as attract possible future employers. The executive committee is responsible for all items other than the market report: the sourcing speakers and organisation of events, the procurement of sponsorship, as well as managing the group’s relationship with the outside world. As an addition, the committee will typically produce a case study on a certain transaction, region or industry of interest for inclusion in the market report. In the long run they seek to establish a strong relationship between DUPEVC and the business world, and aim for both parties to benefit from such a relationship.

To further its goal to expose the group to market practitioners, DUPEVC has hosted two events, both with exceptionally distinguished speakers. Its first event featured a presentation and Q&A with Graham Oldroyd, a former partner at Bridgepoint Capital Partners, one of the UK’s leading Private Equity firms specialising in mid-market buyouts across the European Union. The second concentrated on the entrepreneur’s side and featured a presentation and Q&A with fellow alumnus Bryan Morton (MBA 1993/96), the founder of EUSA Pharma, and an entrepreneur who has founded firms receiving over $360m of principal investments from PE and VC firms in total (he has returned over three times that figure to them). The initial founders, as well as the school, were very keen for the group to continue to benefit additional students, thus the group was passed onto the next cohort in October 2013. For the 2013/14 year, the Market Report Team consists of around 20 students, and the executive committee of around half a dozen students. For the opening cohort, the group was a huge success with nine of the market report team/executive committee receiving employment offers in either Private Equity/ Venture Capital directly or in Investment Banking, generally seen as the best training for a future career within the space. Given the broad set of skills developed through membership, and the fact that the group is now established and is building a network, this is a trend that is expected to continue.

If you feel you can help DUPEVC further its goals, please do not hesitate to contact DUPEVC directly ( or the Alumni Relations Team – (


The Magic of thinking BIG

Above left: The MBA class of 2000/01. Above middle: Varsha and classmate thinking big. Above right: the class captured presenting their ideas to the group.

The MBA 2000/01 cohort dreamt up their class gift initiative when they returned to Durham to celebrate their ten-year reunion. We hear from one classmate who established the proposal to bring in a Visiting Practitioner for the benefit of current MBA students. In addition, current MBA student, Varsha Dinodia (pictured above middle) shares her perspective on the inaugural lecture of entrepreneur expert, Dr Richard Leaver and the value it provided the class. “At the School reunion our conversation evolved to how we could give something back. As several of our class members chose to develop their own successful start-ups following graduation, and we understood entrepreneurship was a key driver for employment growth in the North East, this was taken on as the theme for the project. The ideal candidate as an ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ at Durham University Business School was to be an individual with a track record of success in the start-up and operation of entrepreneurial enterprises. We wanted ‘real world’ experience and expertise.” Greg Shewfelt (MBA 2000/01) CEO, Partnar Animal Health

“All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea.” Napoleon Hill “These great words said by the great American author describe the true meaning of the triumph stories of today’s most successful entrepreneurs and were the focus and highlight of the three days Entrepreneurship workshop led by Dr. Richard Leaver. Dr Richard Leaver (MBA 1990/91), a Cambridge based technologist, has completed his PhD in Artificial Intelligence and has over eleven years experience in the Venture capital field. He is also CEO/Non-Executive Director of many companies playing a key role in several start-ups over the years. The three-day workshop began with 25 full-time MBA students divided into five groups who appeared to be full of energy and enthusiasm to take-up entrepreneurial experience. The objective was to gain insight and experience on innovation, how to convert ideas into successful ventures and what it takes to become an effective entrepreneur. On day one, Dr Richard emphasised that “Everything that is saleable; sells in the market”. Hence, no matter how big or small; logical or illogical, feasible or unfeasible your idea is; if one has the potential and talent to make it marketable and prove its utility in the market, you will find many buyers. We used this approach to brainstorm ideas for a product/service which we wished was available to us.

The objective of Dr Richard was to initiate our thinking. Introducing something new to the market and sustaining the same against all odds comes through critical thinking that transforms an ordinary employee or businessmen into an effective entrepreneur. The message was made very clear to us. As we voted amongst the best of the ideas proposed, the ones that secured highest votes were selected for further evaluation. One-roof shopping, tea testing brew house, worldwide visa, home chip health monitoring system were a few of the popular suggestions. The teams were then motivated to think critically and apply their analytical skills to sell and market these products and services to the potential buyer. A small presentation stating the mission of the proposed business, its target market, competition, investment and resources required, payback time and profitability was made by each group to propose and present their business ideas in the market. The most important aspect was that it doesn’t matter what type of entrepreneur you are, we all need places we can go to get great information, resources and support on our entrepreneurial journey. A great learning experience to conclude – Innovation is man-made; the only thing that it requires is the potential ‘to think big’.” Varsha Dinodia (MBA 2013/14)


Putting power in its place: The centrality of edgelands As Professor in Organisational Studies, Michael Humphreys’ current research interests at Durham University Business School include: studies of organisational identity, narrative and change, innovation and improvisation in teams, public sector management, storytelling and sensemaking and qualitative research methodology. The focus of this piece is a review of Michael’s work with Dr Alison Hirst for the Journal Organization Studies analysing spatial redesign of the modern workplace and the relationship between a new strategic centre office building and a paper storage unit situated in an ‘edgeland’.

Social geography is as much about places as about people. More specifically, it covers the way they work together – a context in which the building is almost as important as the human element in controlling how a workplace or other environment functions. Researchers Alison Hirst and Michael Humphreys, in a case study of council premises in a town in the west of England, examined some of the ways in which humans and the built environment interact, and the subsequent impacts – intended or otherwise.

Space, Time and Power Physical space has a social application. The interrelationships between buildings, their internal space and the people who use them are many and complex. Unlike sociology, social geography involves an acknowledgement that, because people react to their physical environment, the elements which make up that environment (including such features as noise, surrounding greenery and relationships to other spaces) must be regarded as ‘non-human actors’. Under this Actor-Network Theory (ANT) humans, in order to have influence, must enter into relationships with things which are not themselves human.

This sounds complex but is clearly embedded in an understanding of design. Hirst and Humphreys base their study on a growing trend for organisations – both private and public – to commission or relocate to buildings which better suit their perceived function – typically new, centrally-located, easily-accessible and visually striking. Often these are places where skilled or strategic staff members – the ‘elite’ – work together in a site which must be pleasant enough to retain them. Through buildings, architects and designers present a perception of the organisation to its users and the public, employing techniques which consider and unitise the interactions between user and environment.

Case Study: In Town and Out But does it work, or does it create tensions elsewhere? Hirst and Humphreys examined two local authority buildings in England’s west country. In one, a state-of-the-art centrally located complex, the authority brought many key strategic functions together, clearly displaying a public face of the company. (The high regard in which the organisation held these staff is illustrated by the authors’ comment that “Senior managers fought off several attempts by staff whose roles did not fit this strategic definition to move into the new building”.)

The second building, taken on by the authority during the three-year duration of the study, is a storage building servicing the main centre. Located further out in the evocatively-termed ‘edgelands’, where the environment is less pleasant (in that particular case as a result of a nearby sewage works) it was smaller and purely functional, with no design input in any way comparable to the new, central building. To evaluate the responses of the human actors to the influence of the non-human ones, the researchers carried out a programme of detailed semi-structured interviews with 40 employees, supplemented by a programme of participant observation (for example, attending meetings, shadowing interviewees and assessing physical experiences such as travelling between the sites and experiencing the non-human actors – such as noise, dust and so on).

A Tale of Two Buildings Enterprise House, the new central facility, is unquestionably cutting-edge. Part of a newly-planned central quarter in the middle of town, it is easily accessible and close to other facilities. Light and airy, with pleasant communal spaces and contemporary artworks, it is open plan and even the private meeting spaces feature glazed doors and high visibility.


“ Through buildings, architects and designers present a perception of the organisation to its users and the public, employing techniques which consider and unitise the interactions between user and environment.”

The interview process revealed the motivations behind it. The intention was to provide an environment suggesting that not only the building but the people were accessible, to the public and to one another. In other words, it was designed to function as a facilitator in a new and more open approach to doing business. The interviews revealed an interesting contrast. While there was an evident enthusiasm among those who worked there, there was a serpent in paradise. The design process set out to reduce clutter “so that people can’t corral themselves in” but it failed; that clutter, particularly paperwork, continued to accumulate. These papers, then, functioned as agents which worked against the design. And so to building number two. The commissioning of a remote unit for storing the necessary but undesirable paperwork involved utilisation of a warehouse on the edge of town. Photographs provide fascinating evidence here, too. Difficult to find and in an unattractive location, its two small offices and storage area – cramped, lacking facilities and without natural light – contrasted markedly with the new building.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the outcomes of the interviews and participant observation in this second building differed from those in the first. The responses were less enthusiastic, salted with a more traditional humour. Both human and non-human actors proved to be more antagonistic and their actions were perceived by the managers (based, remember, in the new building) as less desirable.

Understanding the Contrast: Conclusions With the distinction between the two buildings – and the attitudes of their occupants – so clearly established in the methodology, Hirst and Humphreys’ conclusion that they fulfilled different functions is no surprise. New, light Enterprise House functioned as a ‘macroactor’ representing its organisation through new approaches and the confident attitudes of its occupants. But while some functions of its former campus could be shed, others – such as the clutter of old paperwork – could not and, though their presence in the new building might be suppressed, they had to be accommodated elsewhere. On the edge of town, difficult to get to and environmentally less pleasant, the storage unit had minimal design input. Different – less pleasant – actors influenced the response of the human actors.

The researchers acknowledge the limitations of their study. They looked in detail at just two buildings, which experienced changes in personnel; and, in a revealing footnote to the research, by the end of the study period the paper management facility had been closed down and its functions contracted out. Nevertheless, their work demonstrates how buildings can be used as actors to promote an organisation’s brand. The design and environmental differences between Enterprise House and its (un-named) outlying paper storage unit illustrate that managers who have control over people’s work environments are able to exert power over them. The authors conclude that there is a need for additional research studies focussing explicitly on decisions which contribute to closure or outsourcing of organisational functions. Such work could investigate relationships between central and peripheral locations in different types of organisation – particularly given the increasing number of private sector outsourcing and/or offshore operations.

To find out more about this study please contact Professor Michael Humphreys at





1. Margisel Peroza 2. Geoff Crocker 3. Vipul Chaudhary




4. David José Báez Chavez 5. Catherine Harrisson (nee Graham) 6. Chris Gray

Margisel Peroza BA Business Finance 2004/07

Geoff Crocker BA Economics 1970/73

Durham University Business School Congratulations to Oliver Adams and alumnus Geoff Crocker recently Margisel Peroza, both alumni of John published his first book A Managerial Snow college, who got engaged in Brazil Philosophy of Technology: Technology last year and celebrated their wedding and Humanity in Symbiosis. Speaking down in Portland, Dorset on 31 August of getting the book published he says: 2013. The sun shone on a beautiful “Getting published took me 40 years! outdoor wedding by the sea. They had their honeymoon in the Maldives and Sri During that whole time I’ve valued friendship with Dick Morley, then head Lanka and are slowly returning back to of Department of Economics at Durham, reality in London where they are based. now retired and still living in Durham. Anna Lee Dick gave me huge encouragement Full-Time MBA and reviewed the book. A long career 1993/94 in strategy consulting for major internationals accumulated lots of Anna Lee recently set up a solutionphenomenological data and issues based PR agency, GoGo PR Consulting about the management of technology. Limited, in Hong Kong with the agency After an MA in Philosophy of Science going from strength to strength. Anna at Bristol, I wrote the book. I circulated commented that, “It has never been it to three publishers at a time and easy to start up your own business. The Palgrave Macmillan immediately agreed Public Relations industry in Hong Kong to publish.” To find out more about is a sophisticated one and a new PR Geoff’s book visit his website at agency must find a niche to survive. With my previous experience in an advertising agency, the entertainment Vipul Chaudhary business and traditional and digital PR Full-Time MBA agencies I positioned my business as 2010/11 ‘Creative, entertaining and fun’ – only Congratulations to alumnus Vipul way to work and play at the same Chaudhary whose wife gave birth to time every day.” adorable non-identical twins on the 28 August 2013. The two baby girls, Veehu and Meehu, weighed 6lbs 14oz each.

David José Báez Chavez Executive MBA 2011/13 Congratulations to MBA alumnus David José Báez Chavez on the birth of his twins: Daniel and Belinda. He is currently living in Mexico for nine months to support his wife in raising the twins whilst working for P&G. Catherine HarriSson (nee Graham) MA Management Studies 2006/07 Catherine Harrisson (nee Graham) married Pete Harrisson on Saturday 14 September 2013 on the Isle of Wight. Following the church wedding, guests had tea and cake at the village hall before heading to the yacht club for the reception. Emma Warrick, who completed her Masters in the same class as Catherine, was delighted to share their special day. Rebecca Walters Full-Time MBA 2011/12 MBA graduate Rebecca Walters was recently appointed as Deputy Programme Director in Risk Infrastructure in the Retail and Wealth Credit Risk arm of Lloyds Banking Group. Rebecca initially started work with the Lloyds Banking Group Graduate Scheme before being appointed in her current position. Speaking of her new appointment she commented that, “It’s a fast learning curve and a completely new area but I am thoroughly enjoying it!”


Dr Mohammad Alshurideh PhD Business Studies 2007/10

Tony Newton DBA 2010/Present

Current DBA student and Business Durham University Business School School tutor, Tony Newton was recently alumnus Dr Mohammed Alshurideh elected by the Trustee Board as the new has been appointed as the Head of President and Chair of the British Dental the Department of Marketing at the Health Foundation. He is currently into University of Jordan. Dr Alshurideh his third term as a Foundation trustee undertook his four-year research study with Tony contributing immensely to at Durham University Business School the Foundation’s current success and as part of the university’s Jordan being instrumental in designing and Programme with his research being focused on customer retention strategies introducing the Foundation’s highly successful product accreditation scheme. among cellular network providers. Mike Nicholson, Director, Centre for Global Dr Murya Habbash Learning and Executive Education at PhD Accounting & Finance Durham University Business School and 2007/10 Dr Alshurideh’s former supervisor, said of the appointment: “Dr Alshurideh Business School alumnus Dr Murya proved during his time at Durham that Habbash was recently appointed he was destined for a bright future and the Dean of Student Affairs at the thoroughly deserves his appointment as prestigious King Khalid University. Head of the Department of Marketing. Murya, who gained his PhD at Durham He is the second such graduate of the University Business School in 2010, Jordan Programme to be fast-tracked was appointed to the role of Dean in into a senior academic post at the October 2013 following a lengthy University of Jordan in the past six selection process. Speaking of his months, demonstrating the prestige appointment Dr Habbash comments, of the programme and the high calibre “I am honoured to be one of the founders of its academics.” and leaders of DUBS alumni in Saudi Arabia; a considerable part of my career Mohamed Musthafa success can be attributed to my learning Full-Time MBA journey at Durham University. DUBS’ 2004/05 clear focus on enhancing leadership training has shaped my personality Congratulations to alumnus Mohamed to be able to manage, lead and Musthafa who married Roya Basir on produce effective results”. Saturday 19 October 2013 in Windsor. The couple’s special day was attended by friend and fellow MBA classmate, Frank Wege.

Chris Gray Executive MBA 2010/12 Durham University Business School alumnus Chris Gray, who has served as an innovative leader for the largest provider of veterinary emergency services in the United Kingdom for the past five years, was recently selected as the new director of the Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, one of the leading veterinary medical referral centres in the world. He began the position on 13 January 2014 with Dr Chris Brown, Dean of the College, commenting “Dr Gray is a distinguished leader, and I am thrilled that he is joining us as director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.” Victoria Barnett Full-Time MBA 2003/04 Congratulations to MBA alumna Victoria Barnett on recently winning the bronze medal for ‘Employee of the Year’ in the 2013 International Women in Business Awards for her work at the Royal College of Nursing. In this role she was responsible for recruiting nurses into membership and had been consistently ahead of her targets. During this time she was also volunteering as a careers coach for staff members at the Royal Collage of Nursing. She has now moved jobs and is currently working as a Senior International Communications Manager at UKTI helping UK businesses export goods into foreign markets.


Top left: Shanghai. Top right: California. Bottom row: New Delhi.

local association news DUBS Alumni Global Network











1. California The North California alumni group met in Scott’s Restaurant in Jack London Square, Oakland for their first Get-together event of the New Year. The event took place on Sunday 12 January with alumni in the region meeting for a relaxed brunch in which they fondly relived their memories of Durham and the Business School. The next event is taking place on Sunday 27 April in Sacramento region at the Rio City Café. To be introduced directly to the organisers of these events please contact the Alumni Relations Team.

Relations Team to be introduced to leaders, Christoph Maixner (Global MBA 2010/12) and Frank Wege (MBA 2004/05).

5. Munich On Friday 14 March the Munich Local Association held their first Get-together event in central Munich. Business School alumni and current students in the region mingled in the informal settings of the Brenner Grill with a further event currently being planned by the Association.

6. jordan

The Mexico Local Association held their first Get-together in the casual setting of the Brassi Polanco Restaurant on Friday 14 March. The group shared memories of their time at the Business School over plates of delicious European cuisine and fine wines.

On Thursday 6 March in Amman in Le Royal Hotel the DUBS Jordan Alumni Association held their first event of 2014 to coincide with our Global Get-together series. This event was attended by a range of Business School alumni from across all programmes and proved successful with the group already planning their second event.

3. London

7. United Arab Emirates

2. Mexico

On Friday 6 December the Southern UK Local Association held their Christmas Get-together event in the Kings Arms pub in the Bishopsgate area of London. The event was well attended by both alumni across a range of programmes and current Global and Executive MBA programme students. The Association also held an event as part of the Global Get-together event series on Thursday 6 March at the Devonshire Terrace Restaurant. The group are currently in the planning stages for a larger event in the summer months. If you wish to be involved please contact the Alumni Relations Team who will put you in contact with the alumni leaders – Ugo Isiadinso (Global MBA 2009/12), Michael Lee (MBA 2010/11) and Kiran Ramakrishna (MBA 2011/12).

4. Frankfurt Frankfurt Local Association held their Christmas Get-together event on the evening of Thursday 12 December with the group taking in the sights and sounds of the local Frankfurt Christmas market. They completed the evening by socialising with a glass of Gluehwein, a traditional German winter-holiday mulled wine beverage. The group have been holding regular Get-togethers throughout the year with two further events planned for Thursday 3 April and Thursday 8 May in Waxy’s Irish Pub, Frankfurt. To register to attend this event please go to the alumni website events calendar or contact the Alumni

In the peaceful settings of The Agency restaurant in the Souk Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, attendees at the first UAE Local Association Global Get-together enjoyed an evening of fine food and drink. The event, which took place on Wednesday 26 February, provided the perfect opportunity for attendees to network with fellow alumni based in the region and catch up on Business School news.

8. New Delhi Durham University sent a delegation of academics and Heads of Departments to India in November. This was a great opportunity for both Business School and University alumni to network and keep up to date with the latest developments University-wide. Professor Rob Dixon was a part of this delegation and held a meeting with the India DUBS International Committee during his visit. The New Delhi Local Association held their first monthly Get-together on Sunday 26 January. Group leader Debashish Kundu tweeted that the event provided all in attendance with “the opportunity to revisit their time at Durham and reminisce about their academic teaching staff, electives and the boardroom activities”. Owing to the success of their previous events the group arranged an adventure weekend in the Rishikesh region of India which took place over the weekend of the 7–9 March. This experience weekend saw

the group rafting on the Ganges, rappelling and trekking to name but a few of the activities with all participants staying in the comfort of luxury camps. The upcoming events in India include the D8s with Professor Kiran Fernandes. See Dates for the Diary on page 31 for more details.

9. Shanghai The Shanghai Local Association led by Ocean Wang (MBA 2008/09) organised a joint Durham University, Bath University and Warwick University alumni Christmas party in Shanghai in December with a formal dinner taking place on Sunday 26 January to celebrate and welcome in the Chinese New Year. Both events were well attended with the formal dinner taking place in Spanish restaurant, Loco, and welcoming 40 Durham University alumni. The Local Association also organised a Leading Edge Career Panel event which took place on Saturday 15 March. This panel featured prominent DUBS alumni in the region speaking on their experiences of start-up businesses; this was also a great opportunity for younger alumni to gain valuable insight into how to turn any potential business ideas into a fully-fledged entrepreneurial venture. The next panel event is likely to take place in June.

Local Associations are the perfect way to keep in touch with other Durham University Business School alumni in your area. The next Global Get-together date is Thursday 5 June 2014. As usual this is just a guide. If it is more convenient for your group to meet at another date and time please do so. If you are interested in joining these or any other groups throughout the world – in your location or perhaps in an area you frequent on business – please email us and we will put you in touch with a Local Association Leader. Alternatively, if there is not yet a Local Association in your area, contact the Alumni Relations Team and we can investigate setting one up. We look forward to hearing about your events and receiving photographs. If you require any help in arranging a Get-together please do get in touch –


Service-Ability: Create a Customer Centric Culture and Achieve Competitive Advantage by Kevin Robson

Shacha Zamora gives her verdict on this book written by alumnus Kevin Robson (MBA 1995/96). Shacha herself is currently working as an Associate for BNY Mellon, a global investments company based in the USA, whilst studying on the Durham Global MBA programme. Today’s business world is evolving faster than ever before. Times are changing and so are technology and customer knowledge and expectations. Organisations are continually reorganising to maintain or gain competitive advantage. More companies are using technology to handle customer service in an efficient and cost-effective way. Nonetheless, it is those businesses that are primarily attentive to their customers’ questions, complaints, or other needs that can gain a clear competitive advantage. In Kevin Robson’s latest edition of Service-Ability: Create a Customer Centric Culture and Achieve Competitive Advantage, the author does an excellent job discussing the importance of embracing service-ability by including anecdotes, some from personal experience. He directs organisations to refocus on satisfying the customer as this will lead to “better customer retention, lower costs of replacement and will build their brand value through better reputations”.

Rather than being more focused on customer-satisfying service, we are simply too concerned with becoming more efficient, receptive, and innovative. As a result, organisations of all types are facing high customer churn. By improving customer service, businesses are better able to engender customer loyalty. In today’s market, consumers have power of choice and control over the reputation of a firm. As technological changes become more frequent, organisations need to seek ways to shift their attention to developing strong, long-term relationships with customers. Offering quality products and services and being responsive to customers are some key components to achieving organisational success. As the author infers, implementing a customer centric approach not only adds value to a company but enables it to differentiate itself from competitors.

Service-Ability: Create a Customer Centric Culture and Achieve Competitive Advantage can be purchased from the book’s website at

Information about the author: Kevin Robson was awarded his MBA with overall distinction and academic prize for best dissertation by Durham University Business School in 1996. He also holds the internationally recognised Graduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, of which he is also a Fellow. Kevin has had a successful business career working more than 20 years as managing director of his own companies and a subsequent period as CEO of an international charity. He has also worked as a business consultant with many types of organisations in a variety of industries. Since completing work on his book Kevin has been asked to speak at a number of different conferences and forums including The City of London Financial Services Forum and, more recently, to speak in South Africa at the ‘Braai and Brotherhood Strategy Weekend’ with a group of Mercedes dealership owners in and around Johannesburg. He is currently putting the finishing touches to another book on which he focuses his talents on a different subject area completely.


EVENTS DUBS California Local Association Get-Together

RECRUITMENT EVENTS D8 London: ‘Crisis Management and the Ethic of Care’ with Dr Richard Slack

Online Information Session for prospective postgraduate students Tuesday 29 April 2014, 2pm to 4pm

 Tuesday 29 April 2014, 2pm to 3pm GMT

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 33 Queen Street, London, EC4R 1AP Thursday 12 June 2014, 6pm to 8pm

 D8 Mumbai: ‘Big Data:

D8 Toronto

Sunday 27 April 2014, 11am to 1pm

DUBS Webinar – ‘Managing and Motivating Teams’

Your organisation’s strategic weapon’ with Professor Kiran Fernandes

The Leela Mumbai, Sahar, Mumbai, 400059 Wednesday 7 May 2014, 6pm to 8pm 

D8 New Delhi: ‘Big Data: Your organisation’s strategic weapon’ with Professor Kiran Fernandes Jaypee Vasant Continental, Basant Lok, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, 110057 Saturday 10 May 2014, 5pm to 7pm

Alumni Global Get-Together (various cities) Thursday 5 June 2014

Autumn 2014 (dates TBC)

D8 USA Autumn 2014 (cities and dates TBC)

Leading Edge Recruiter Event (Beijing/Shanghai)

We regularly attend recruitment events around the world and love it when we are joined by alumni. Not only does it give us the chance to catch up with you, but prospective students really value the opportunity to speak with our graduates. If you would like to volunteer to help at such an event in your country we would like to hear from you.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION To book places for these events, contact the Alumni Relations Team on: E: T: +44 (0)191 334 5277


MBA Open Event Durham University Business School, Mill Hill Lane, Durham, DH1 3LB Wednesday 21 May 2014, 10.30am to 2.15pm

MBA Open Event

Autumn 2014 (dates TBC)

Durham University Business School, Mill Hill Lane, Durham, DH1 3LB Thursday 19 June 2014, 10.30am to 2.15pm

Corporate Forum India

For a list of preview and open events,

Autumn 2014 (topic and dates TBC)

Corporate Forum china Autumn 2014 (topic and dates TBC)



please visit the Business School website: Please note that some dates, speakers and venues are provisional or yet to be confirmed.

Alumni Relations Team Alexandra McNinch (nee Sedgwick), Alumni Relations Manager Katharine Aspey, Alumni Coordinator Alumni Relations Team Durham University Business School Mill Hill Lane Durham DH1 3LB t: +44 (0)191 334 5277 f: +44 (0)191 334 5218 e: UK Local Associations Southern (based in London) International Local Associations Azerbaijan Munich Beijing New Delhi California Nigeria Canada Sao Paulo Frankfurt Saudi Arabia Ghana Shanghai Gibraltar Singapore Hong Kong South America Jordan Sri Lanka Kazakhstan Switzerland Mexico United Arab Emirates Mumbai

To be put in contact with other alumni in your area, please contact the Alumni Relations Team.


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DUBS Alumni News Issue 25 Spring 2014