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2017: DESTINATION UNKNOWN Where are our leaders taking us?

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ISSUE ONE • January 2017


IMPACT ISSUE ONE Leading influence and change Welcome to the first edition of Impact, Durham University Business School’s thought leadership and news magazine.

support our goals to reach new audiences, inform, engage and stimulate students.

Impact. This one word symbolises everything we seek to achieve at Durham. We have created this magazine to engage and showcase the impact our students, researchers and alumni are having across the business world.

International visits are further extending our engagement. In September, on my first international visit on behalf of the School, I travelled to China to meet with alumni and partner organisations to develop plans for a stronger Chinese footprint and reputation. In December, a similar visit to the US with our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge, was aimed at strengthening our American connections with alumni, business leaders and entrepreneurs.

I stepped into my new role as Dean of Durham University Business School at a landmark time. The world has witnessed two major geopolitical developments in recent months Brexit and the U.S. Presidential Elections. The impact of these two events has resulted in various discussion and debate from our academic staff and colleagues, and in this first edition leading thinkers at the Business School give their predictions and thoughts on the major events for the year ahead in business, economics, and leadership. Also in this edition, you will find examples of our high calibre research and impact, showing the School’s international footprint from our experts. Dr Dennis Philip, a leading expert in household finances, provides some insight into how we are supporting international governments to tackle financial education and empowering citizens to make smart financial choices. Separately, a feature on the work of Professor Mark Learmonth writes how Disney is not just about entertainment - but how Disney’s female characters have shaped the perceptions of generations of women and young girls. The extent of our collaboration and impact on the world of business and learning means we are always evolving our course delivery. Our new MBA programmes offer students the ability to complete their learning while collaborating on various activities with leading business partners and start-ups. They have been developed to meet the demands of a growing number of working age professionals who are looking for an MBA which will give them a genuine career edge. They offer an unprecedented variety of features, including a choice of learning routes and modules, as well as entrepreneurship, consultancy and technology pathways and a dedicated Personal Career Advancement service for all students. Our full-time programme also includes language learning and visits to international companies where new language skills can be put into practice. Recently the School launched its first ever MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) which attracted over 3,000 registrations. These popular and successful internet-based mini-courses are open to everyone across the world, and

Millennials are increasingly driving entrepreneurship, with growing numbers of undergraduates in the UK running their own businesses or learning practical commercial skills, and our students are at the heart of these innovative changes. Our level of class engagement with industry, commerce and policy is enabling our academics, staff and students at the School to connect business with incisive entrepreneurial and innovative thinking. One example is our Business School student, Tobias McBride, Head of the Durham University Electric Motorsport (DUEM) Business team, who is sharing in this initiative’s success. These achievements and many more, support our improving position in the rankings, and are fundamental to our accreditation and the development of our international reputation. The Economist Which? MBA survey has ranked us first in the UK for Personal Development and Educational Experience and the Financial Times has positioned the School as 12th in the UK within this important dimension of our education and student experience. The stories and reports of our activities and achievements are testament to the high calibre of our students, faculty, research and alumni community, and we believe, that by doing the right things with our research and education, we will see further progress in the years ahead. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this first edition. The support from our staff and students demonstrates the tremendous involvement across the School. I look forward to contributing and sharing in our impact.

Professor Susan Hart Dean of Durham University Business School

ISSUE ONE • January 2017









Thank you to our other key contributors

Charlotte Wareing Marketing Officer

Want to find out more or contribute to the next edition?

Professor Susan Hart Professor Kevin Dowd Dr Christos Tsinopoulos Dr Susanne Braun Dr Dennis Philip Dr Les Graham Professor Mark Learmonth Yaman Islim Tobias McBride Ocean Wang Philipp Dommermuth Jane Robinson Penny Hawley Aisha Parlindungan Sylvia Yin Vincent Wang Christian Few

Jacqueline Baker Marketing Communications Coordinator Liz Lawrence Marketing Communications Manager Paula Lane Marketing Officer Wendy Duery Web Marketing Officer

Just send us an email: Follow us on Twitter: @DUBusSchool Find us on LinkedIn: Durham University Business School




2017: DESTINATION UNKNOWN Where are our leaders taking us?





2017: Destination Unknown Where are our leaders taking us?


A New Online MBA Programme Durham leads the way


International Connections


Empowering the People Helping governments equip citizens with better financial know-how


Adapt and Thrive Helping the police meet 21st century challenges


Fruitful Influence or Poison Apple? Disney’s female role models


Talent Shines Through War From Aleppo to Durham


Seeing the Light Durham solar car business team


Exceptional Alumnus Recognised Ocean Wang honoured by Vice-Chancellor



Home-Sweet-homify Supporting student internships


Jane Robinson Our new Chief Operating Officer


Rising Through the Rankings The Business School further improves its global position


A Journey for Aisha From corporate to social entrepreneurship


Durham University Business School’s First MOOC More are planned in the future


Running Hangzhou Alumni tackle the Chinese 50km race


Run Fast Be Brave 51offer Economics to Entrepreneurship Sylvia Yin listed in Asia’s Forbes 30 Under 30


The Business of Barbecues An MBA entrepreneurial journey


Upcoming Events


ISSUE ONE • January 2017


Where are our leaders taking us?

DESTINATION UNKNOWN • Where are our leaders taking us? • 07

In 2016, the world witnessed a number of seismic political shifts in Western democracies, with global implications for the geopolitical and economic landscape. Among those key events were Britain voting to leave the European Union and the United States electing Donald Trump as President. Needless to say, the outcome of both could mean a period of momentous change in the years ahead. A number of our academics at Durham University Business School are defining the impact and result of these changing events as ‘a new world’. After 2016 being such a tumultuous year, the next year is expected to bring fresh challenges – and the need for new resilience. At the start of 2017, what does this new world mean for us? How can people and business prepare for what will be another watershed year and the likely upheaval we expect to see? Leading thinkers at the Business School have given their predictions and thoughts on the major events for the year ahead in business, economics, and leadership. Kevin Dowd, Professor of Finance and Economics; Dr Christos Tsinopoulos, Senior Lecturer in Management; and Dr Susanne Braun, Senior Lecturer in Leadership express their views here on what we could see happening in a more uncertain future for leadership and business. With their insight, we can gain a greater understanding and appreciation of some of the future challenges facing businesses and organisations operating in this ‘new world’.

THE FUTURE OF EUROPE By Professor Kevin Dowd As we peer into our crystal balls, some 2017 developments are highly uncertain, others clear. The most uncertain is the future United States under Donald Trump. That a lot could go wrong is obvious, but there is upside potential too: if Trump goes for free trade and deregulation, and pushes to end the ‘funny money’ era and its attendant problems, such as its damaging asset price bubbles and the collapse of productivity growth. Brexit will continue, and we should be out in early 2019 after a very acrimonious divorce. The future of the European Union is clear, the European Union will break up. Most likely, there will be an Italian referendum that will lead Italy to leave, followed by similar outcomes in France, the Netherlands, etc. The dissolution of the European Union promises to be a fraught and dangerous process, but has long been inevitable. Also certain is a renewed European banking crisis that starts with Italy, spreads to Germany and leads to unprecedented taxpayer bailouts. These bailouts and the intensifying migrant crisis will further fuel the antiEuropean Union backlash and bring down both the European Union establishment and political leaders who support it. It will not be a pretty picture.

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

DESTINATION UNKNOWN • Where are our leaders taking us? • 08



By Dr Christos Tsinopoulos

By Dr Susanne Braun

Recent political developments have, at the very least, indicated a degree of resistance towards the forces of globalisation. Yet, at the supply chain front, things are more global and open than ever. Developments such as Industry 4.0, big data, and the Internet of Things enable companies in international supply chains to share information and knowledge quickly and effectively. Moreover, companies increasingly recognise the value of a more open approach to innovation. The benefits of doing so are obvious. Better and faster information sharing can lead to better and faster decision making. This can lead to more successful products and services, which are then delivered to customers faster and address their needs more effectively. A key presumption of such developments, however, is that there is a common framework for everyone. Common frameworks allow the exchange of information, products, and ideas in a manner which is understood and standardised. The European Union has been providing such a framework where standardisation in legislation, systems, policies, and even engineering methods has enabled a significant degree of integration across supply chains. Yet, events such as Brexit indicate that such integration initiatives may be under threat. As we move into 2017, an important challenge for supply chain managers, and business leaders more generally, will be to explore how the openness enabled by modern technologies is balanced against the pressures imposed by modern politics.

A tumultuous year has come to an end. Many of us felt overwhelmed in 2016. Especially in the geopolitical landscape, several events disrupted our daily business: the UK’s referendum vote in June, putting in motion the country’s exit from the European Union; the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in November; and the resignation of Matteo Renzi as Italian Prime Minister. More shifts may follow as the elections in France and Germany are looming. It is not surprising that in these difficult times, people call for leadership. In fact, research shows that when people experience uncertainty, they identify with authoritative figures. When the environment is uncertain, we look for certainty in good leadership. The challenge is that good leadership lies in the eye of the beholder. To understand whether someone is a good leader, people want to know what they stand for. “What have they done in the past, and what are their proposals for the future?” Leaders must first establish and then build on their authentic selves, if they want to succeed in difficult times. Authentic leaders act in accordance with their deeply held personal values and convictions in order to build credibility and win respect and trust of the people they lead. It is on this basis that authentic leaders achieve close, nurturing relationships with others. In essence, to lead others, we must start with ourselves – “what do I stand for?” should become the key question for leaders in 2017.

NEW ONLINE MBA • Durham leads the way • 09

A NEW ONLINE MBA PROGRAMME Durham leads the way

Ranked 4th in the world and 2nd in the UK, our brandnew Online MBA is set to challenge, inspire and provide students with the business knowledge and experience to enhance their career aspirations. The programme will expand their professional networks, and further develop the capabilities they will need to succeed in a dynamic and rapidly changing business world. Flexibility is at the heart of the new Online MBA, as students can personalise their programme to meet their goals. They can choose a pathway on which to focus, in the areas of entrepreneurship, consultancy or technology, or alternatively, they can select two optional modules to complete which will challenge them and elevate their careers. Students complete the programme in two years and they can study the MBA fully online, or take a blended approach where they complete some of their learning at Durham University Business School. Collaboration and idea generation continues throughout the programme with fellow students, alumni, experts and academics.

Dr Robert McMurray Online MBA Programme Director

“Our new Online MBA has been designed to challenge and develop students’ key business and leadership capabilities to help them achieve their own personal career aspirations, enabling them to apply their new knowledge and skills directly to their own careers.”

PERSONAL CAREER A D VA N C E M E N T Integral to the new programme is the Personal Career Advancement Service, which provides students with the tools to accelerate their leadership capabilities and helps them to realise their full potential. The Online MBA Careers team provide a dedicated personal consultancy and have extensive international business connections, which will give students the opportunity to engage with world-class recruiters, corporate connections and alumni mentors from across the globe.

Dr Julie Hodges Director, MBA Programmes

“Evolving our programmes to meet the future needs of potential students and the international business world reflects our commitment to excellence in learning and teaching.”

I N T E R N AT I O N A L E X P E R I E N C E & G L O B A L C O N TA C T S Students will be part of a global group, and have access to international alumni and academics, giving them the ability to network virtually with people around the world and from a wide-range of business sectors. There is also the option to gain global business experience, which gives students the ability to operate within an international business environment in countries such as China, Spain, Germany and the USA. Through this experience they will have the opportunity to learn about current issues and immerse themselves in local culture. Visit for more information.

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING Professor Susan Hart travels to China to meet with alumni and partner organisations


CAREER DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA Supporting graduates in Beijing and Shanghai

During her time with Business School alumni, Susan Hart met with Alex Hu, MBA; attended an alumni reception in Beijing; and travelled to Shanghai to meet our international committee at The Noodlista, opened by alumni Hongyi Chen, MSc Financial Management, and Zhilin Liu, MSc Human Resource Management. There are over 380 alumni in Beijing, and those attending the reception had inspiring stories of success and impact on their businesses and communities since graduating from Durham University Business School. Professor Hart then travelled to Fudan University to meet more of our alumni and build the Business School’s network and our connections to the Chinese business community.

On her final evening in China, over 100 people attended an alumni ‘Meet the Dean’ event in Shanghai, an exceptional turnout.

As part of the Dean’s visit to China, our Career Development team held their annual Career Development events in Beijing and Shanghai to support our most recent graduating postgraduate students. The events included careers fairs, interviews with employers, a School careers workshop and an alumni recruiter panel. This provided graduates the opportunity to network with alumni, recruiters, corporate partners and the School.

In December, Professor Hart travelled with Durham University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge, to the USA where they attended a meeting of the University’s North American Development Board, which supports our recruitment, alumni relations and fundraising activities there. The purpose of the meeting was to plan further relationship building. After the meeting, a reception took place with Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to the USA, at his residence in Washington D.C. Sir Kim is a Durham University alumnus. Professor Hart journeyed on to New York where she attended an Experience Durham reception hosted by the Vice-Chancellor. She also met with School advocates and donors, including Dr Brad Atkinson and Chris Stavrou, who have recently made a very generous donation to support a new student opportunity in 2017.

Over 100 CVs were shared with recruiters in advance of the events, and as a result the team were able to arrange 102 interviews, with additional interviews arranged at the events themselves. Across both events more than 160 alumni attended to connect and engage with employers and our alumni network, and we welcomed over 75 recruiters. Participating companies included Abercrombie & Fitch; Apple; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Dagong Global Credit; Faurecia; Hilti; Hilton; HLJK Systems and Technology; Nielsen; Siemens; State Street Bank; and Weber Shandwick. Several students attended further interviews and assessments following the events and a number of job offers were made.


RECRUITING OUR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS We have visited a number of cities across the globe in the last year where we were able to speak to students and recruit them to our programmes:

London, UK St Petersburg, Russia Moscow, Russia Vienna, Austria Milan, Italy Montreal, Canada Madrid, Spain

Toronto, Canada Tokyo, Japan Cologne, Germany Beijing, China Shanghai, China Thessaloniki, Greece Athens, Greece

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Jakarta, Indonesia Bangkok, Thailand Hanoi, Vietnam Dubai, UAE Mumbai, India New Delhi, India

VISITORS TO THE BUSINESS SCHOOL Welcoming global guests and sharing knowledge and experience We are always delighted to welcome visitors from around the world from both academia and business to talk to our students about their research or practical business experience. Our recent visitors include: Professor Seijiro Takeshita from the University of Shizuoka in Japan and seven of his corporate governance research students visited Dr Christopher Williams, Reader in Management, in November. They took part in various activities and events at the Business School as part of a week-long tour of the UK. They also spent time with our undergraduate students, speaking in lectures and seminars on Dr Williams’ East Asian Business module where they discussed Japanese corporate governance and the Japanese business context.

Ms Dayna Platts, Sales and Marketing Manager at PSP Architectural. Dayna completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Durham. Dayna gave a fascinating insight into the challenges facing an SME attempting to market its products and services in the construction sector. Dr John Canacott, Acting CEO at River Medical and a serial entrepreneur. John shared his knowledge from his DBA at Durham and was able to explain the changes in the marketing communications sector with reference to his own studies, showing students how to put theory into practice.

As lead author of the research paper Olympus and the whistleblower president, Professor Takeshita and his team engaged directly with students on what can be learnt from that particular case.

Mr A.S. Ramchander, Chief Marketing Officer at Castrol & BP Lubricants. Following his popular guest lecture last year, he wanted to commit more time giving back to the university sector, as he firmly believes his education helped him on the road to success. Our students worked with him and Nick on a day-and-a-half of intensive activities centring on the key concept of branding.

Also in November, three guest speakers from the world of business were invited by Nick Ellis, Professor of Marketing Management, to present to our MBA students.

We are always pleased to welcome guest speakers to the School. To find out more contact:

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

Empowering the People Helping governments equip citizens with better financial know-how

Imagine trying to make sense of financial illiteracy and create financial education programmes which empower 1.3 billion people to make effective financial choices. That’s the scope of the challenge facing a pioneering financial education project in India being led by Dr Anurag Banerjee and Dr Dennis Philip, from the Centre for Banking, Institutions and Development (CBID) at the Business School. The landmark initiative aims to provide Indian authorities with an accurate picture of financial illiteracy with the aim of understanding the scale of the problem and to develop more inclusion around key financial products, such as across pensions, insurance and capital markets.

EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE • Equipping citizens with financial know-how • 13

India poses particular challenges for financial education. Since 2000, there has been a 211% increase in wealth per capita in India. Yet, less than 20% of Indian households can answer a series of basic financial questions, according to recent research by the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) in India. Empowering its citizens so that people can make informed and effective financial decisions from mainstream pensions to specialist products, such as crop insurance, are key aims of the project. NISM, an educational organisation established by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Indian securities’ regulator, is committed to increasing the financial literacy of Indians. Its goal is to implement the National Strategy for Financial Education in the country, which involves increasing the financial know-how and financial inclusion among households.

In 2015, NISM completed the firstever country-wide financial literacy and inclusion survey in India. It covered 75,000 households across more than 150 districts, signalling the start of its commitment to understanding the scale of the programme. It has commissioned the Business School to make sense of the data collected. The findings of the research will outline the scale of the financial literacy challenge and provide recommendations to directly influence policy in the country. In December, the Policy Forum on Financial Literacy and Financial Inclusion took place in Mumbai, and involved global authorities such as the OECD and the Indian government to discuss how to best adopt the measures outlined in the research. The forum set the stage for Durham’s research on Indian financial literacy which was presented for a panel discussion. The Indian financial education project is part of an emerging specialism at the Business School, which promotes financial inclusion in developing nations. Dr Philip, who is an expert in household finance, is helping a number of governments to develop their financial education programmes so they have the information, knowledge, and skills to evaluate their options and identify those that best suit their needs and circumstances. In Cyprus, for example, the Durham team has started a research collaboration with the Central Bank of Cyprus. Active discussions are also taking place with other countries’ ministries and central banks.

Dr Philip and Dr Panayiotis Andreou from CBID at the Business School held a forum at the Central Bank of Cyprus in collaboration with Cyprus University of Technology on Friday 4 November last year. The purpose of the forum was to highlight the problem of financial illiteracy in Cyprus and bring together governing bodies to discuss possible avenues for change, both in terms of policy development and central bank intervention. The Durham research team presented evidence collected from a pilot study of around 400 Cypriot students aged between 18 and 36 years old, from wide-ranging academic disciplines – the next generation who will be contributing to the wider economy.

The research focused on capturing the understanding of key financial knowledge including the time value of money, interest paid on loans and savings, risk and return, diversification, and the meaning of inflation. The results showed that overall only 22% of respondents answered the questions correctly. The findings indicated that most dimensions of financial knowledge recorded an average score much lower than the global average produced by OECD’s survey of 30 countries around the world. Dr Philip said: “There was consensus among the forum speakers that financial illiteracy is a real problem at all levels of Cypriot society and the responsibility for information falls on the state, competent institutions and the citizens themselves, who should be empowered to understand their rights and make sound financial decisions.” As part of the ongoing collaboration with the Central Bank of Cyprus, the CBID research team will lead the implementation of a national benchmarking survey on financial illiteracy in Cyprus in 2017 to collect valid and representative data about financial literacy and financial inclusion. The results of the survey will directly inform the government on potential actions and policies. To learn more about the financial literacy and inclusion research work of the Centre for Banking, Institutions and Development (CBID) at the Business School, email Dr Philip (Director of CBID):

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

Adapt & Thrive Helping the police meet 21st century challenges Police organisations are continuing to face a range of challenges due to the reduction in resources available to them and the changing environment in which they operate. Within the policing profession there is increasing concern about a number of possible consequences, such as increased levels of burnout in police officers and staff, and changes in their attitudes and behaviours. Durham University Business School is proud to be pioneering collaborative research with police forces to support them in meeting these challenges...

ADAPT AND THRIVE • Helping the Police meet 21st century challenges • 15

Left to right: Dr Les Graham; Chief Constable Mike Barton; VC Professor Stuart Corbridge; and Professor Susan Hart.

Led by Dr Les Graham, Senior Teaching Fellow in Strategy, the Business School is conducting a nationwide collaborative research project with police forces to investigate how leadership, management practices and culture affect wellbeing, engagement and integrity in the police. The research is underpinned by and builds upon internationally-leading research from the Business School’s International Centre for Leadership and Followership (ICLF).

The MOU was celebrated at a dinner attended by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary; Chief Constables from Durham, South Yorkshire, and Cleveland Police, and the Assistant Chief Officer from Thames Valley Police – together with the University’s Vice-Chancellor; Pro-ViceChancellor (Research); Dean of the Business School; Director of Research and Innovation Services; and also leading academic staff from across the Business School.

In less than three years, working closely with Durham Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, and supported by research awards from the College of Policing, University seedcorn and ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, the collaborative policing research project has expanded rapidly and now involves 22 police forces.

The signing of an MOU aims to establish a self-funding joint research unit between the Business School and Durham Constabulary, further strengthening the School’s reputation for research in policing.

Dr Graham said: “We hope the research findings can be translated into policy changes and effective intervention actions which will achieve a positive impact on the policing organisations involved, the well-being and job satisfaction of the 92,000 individuals who work there and communities the forces serve.” The Business School is currently working to offer the opportunity to join the collaborative research project to all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. On 28 September last year, following agreement from the University Executive Council, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in the Business School to strengthen the research partnership with Durham Constabulary.

In addition to this research, work undertaken outside the UK has included a high-profile pan-European police research project, which involved a study of the cultural and societal pressures faced and the challenges and processes involved in organisational change for police forces in ten European countries (Belgium; Czech Republic; France; Germany; Italy; Macedonia; the Netherlands; Romania; Spain; and the United Kingdom). In further good news, on 14 October, Dr Graham was awarded an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account award of £22,000 for his research project: ‘A Study of Workforce Factors, Behaviour and Service Delivery in Policing’. This funding will be used to assist in the expansion of the project to a further 11 forces and, following government policy changes to encourage closer working between police and fire and rescue services, will allow the scope to be increased to include a fire and rescue service organisation.

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

Professor Mark Learmonth

FRUITFUL INFLUENCE OR POISON APPLE? • Disney’s female role models • 17

From Snow White washing the dishes to a bunny rabbit police officer in Zootopia (Zootropolis in the UK), Disney’s films and animations have portrayed many memorable working female characters. Since 1937, images have evolved from a housemaid to seven dwarfs (Snow White) to a queen ruling a country (Elsa in Frozen). The release of Moana at the end of 2016 offers another version, with a teenager setting out on a daring mission to prove herself and save her people.

Over the last 80 years, Disney’s female characters have shaped the perceptions of generations of women and young girls. The representation of women in their animations about work has reflected changing perceptions in society – but also its flaws. The prince kissed Snow White and she awoke from her sleep. Cinderella was saved by Prince Charming from a life of abuse. The Little Mermaid’s only dream in life was to marry Prince Eric. From the late 1930s to well into the 1980s, leading women in Disney led lives that were only fulfilled upon marrying a prince, and the work they did was housework or being a mother. Any successful working women who did appear in these earlier movies were portrayed as harridans – just think of Cruella de Vil and what she wanted to do to those poor little puppies. In recent movies, however, these messages about women’s work have been replaced by active, agentive girls and women, from Mulan to Tiana or Elsa and Anna, who take their destiny into their own hands and who conquer their dreams thanks to their own will and determination. Strength rather than weakness has become desirable and Disney movies now show us that girls cannot be women if they are not visible and active in organisations. In other words, while they are always entertaining, Disney is not just about entertainment. As Walt himself put it: “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood”. My own research (conducted with Martyn Griffin at the University of Leeds and Nancy Harding at the University of Bradford) suggests that Disney may well be helping to shape young girls’ expectations about their future working lives, as the films show them what to expect as adults in the workplace.

While early films idealise girls as weak and seeking to avoid work (at least, anything other than housework), later ones present strong women and girls who are explicitly positive role models for girls to seek more prestigious kinds of working lives. Indeed, elements of the latest films can be seen as progressive, even perhaps explicitly feminist. So, for example, they have stopped portraying female villains, opting instead for a wise motherfigure who mentors the younger woman, and thereby emphasises the benefits of female co-operation. Maleficent is the paramount of this ‘revisionist fairy tale slate’. Far from being an evil witch, in the 2014 film we discover someone whom after a brutally traumatic rape, which is alluded to, is able to find happiness through her love for the young daughter of her rapist. Maleficent and Aurora join forces and together stop the male tyranny, proving that females working together can accomplish even the most difficult of tasks.

Still, even the latest animations are not always entirely or unambiguously progressive. Even Elsa in Frozen suggests debatable ideas about the continuing importance of appearance for working women. While she learns to control her powers and becomes a strong leader for her people, she is also transformed into a beautiful, seductive woman. She may be freed from her fears, but she is not freed from the imposition of rules about how a woman should look. Women may now be encouraged to take the lead, but Disney reminds us that even today, women still need to observe the norms which govern gender. It is hard, therefore, to be entirely optimistic about the positive effects of any feminist turn in the latest Disney animations, not least because children typically watch early animations alongside contemporary ones. For this reason it is likely that, overall, Disney provides girls (and boys) with mixed messages about the nature of work – and the place of women within it. These mixed messages are very powerful. Especially when taken alongside other similar cultural influences, what Disney films suggest about the nature of women’s working lives could well, at least in part, help to explain why many women still have different expectations about work compared to men, and why they have tended not to progress as quickly in workplace hierarchies.

ISSUE ONE • January 2017


Chevening Scholar and Syrian student Yaman Islim reflects on his journey from Aleppo to Durham

On 13 January this year I will become a Durham graduate. I will be so proud to receive my degree and will celebrate loudly and vigorously with my peers as all fresh graduates do. We will savour the moment of achievement, with new doors opening – and fresh hope for our futures. I know my family will be there with me, deep in my heart like they have always been, supporting me, every step of the way.

Two months earlier, in November 2016, the letter arrived to tell me that I had obtained a distinction for the MSc in Finance and Investment which I had been studying for since joining the Business School in September 2015. As a Chevening Scholar – the UK government’s international awards are funded by the Foreign Office aimed at developing global leaders – my graduation will top an amazing year at Durham. This also serves as a suitable point to introduce you to my international journey to Durham, which started more than 2,600 miles away in now war-torn Aleppo.

TALENT SHINES THROUGH WAR • From Aleppo to Durham • 19

I was a third-year economics student at the University of Aleppo when Arab Spring protests broke out in April 2011. The number of protests and demonstrations increased slowly until the end of November when the Syrian government started to retaliate. The situation deteriorated dramatically, massive arrests took place daily and airstrikes and bombings began in no time. University dormitories were filled with displaced families, with the electricity restricted and water cut off. Secret police checkpoints increased and friends and acquaintances were arrested. Some never came back, some did, others were found dead. My father was kidnapped for a week, but luckily returned home safe. I have lost five friends to date, in different ways, mostly tortured, with bodies dumped. I decided to move on and pursue my education elsewhere, in Istanbul. Shortly after my father returned home from being abducted, I booked a flight from Aleppo to Istanbul through Beirut, not knowing if I would see my family again. The initial part of my studies in Turkey was very challenging. It wasn’t only about keeping up with the lectures and written work and getting to know the city, it was financially challenging as well. After finishing my second term I was able to secure a 10-week internship in an energy company. I was able to finish my Masters degree with a distinction and was ranked top of my class. Shortly afterwards, I was offered a full-time job in a multinational company, where I worked for almost two years. But while I was there ISIS separated from al-Qaeda and declared the caliphate, a term you don’t really come across outside history books. Foreign jihadists poured into Syria to join ISIS and the world started to recognise the danger Syrians were facing after thousands of civilians were killed.

One day I realised I needed to start a new phase in my education that would allow me to improve my country in the future. I applied for the UK government’s Chevening Scholarships to study in the UK. As part of the scholarship application, I had to apply to three universities. My aim was Durham University Business School. Durham is a world-class university, but

for me what made it stand out from other universities was how its Business School is advancing, and where its graduates are now. Durham University Business School has a fast-growing alumni network working in top companies. This was crucial to my decision – being part of an alumni group that is making an impact is what truly counts for me. In February 2015, I heard that I had passed the first screening process for the Chevening Scholarships and that I had advanced to the interview stage, which took place in March. A few days after my meeting I received an offer from the Business School to study MSc Finance and Investment.

In June 2015, I learnt that my interview was successful and I had become a Chevening Scholar. I felt like all the hard work had paid off, and it was one of the best feelings ever. When I called my family with the news, they were happy and proud, but at the same time sad as I would not be in a neighbouring country anymore. I have enjoyed everything Durham has to offer, particularly the bits that you don’t find on the internet – the kind people, the amazing collegiate system, friendships, the nights out, the feeling you get when you go to the Cathedral for the first time, the difficult exams, the reading lists that never end, the discussions and debates that never end as well, the sports that you can practice, the societies you could join. All that gives Durham University its special flavour, a flavour that I doubt exists elsewhere. Durham is my home now, just like Istanbul was before, and Aleppo before that. I don’t know where my journey will take me next – but if you ever study at Durham University you would know that no matter where you go, you would always call your college ‘home’. I would like to highlight that my story, although challenging, is a fortunate one. There are many others who are going through worse and my experiences are just a fraction compared to what friends and relatives in Syria have witnessed and endured at first hand.

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

Durham solar car team trailblazing through innovation

Image: © Amy Stockdale.

SEEING THE LIGHT • Durham solar car business team • 21

Left to right: The team celebrate the end of the World Solar Challenge, © Sam Nicholls.

At a time when innovation is at the forefront for all major industries, Durham University students are leading these ground-breaking changes. Solar energy is already breaking through, and the Durham University Electric Motorsport (DUEM) solar car team is a game-changer to watch out for. In the last year, the team have embarked on an ambitious publicity campaign to promote their project in the lead-up to racing again in Australia at the World Solar Challenge in 2017 — a 3,000km marathon race across the heart of Australia against teams from around the world. Durham University Business School third-year Economics undergraduate student Tobias McBride is the Head of DUEM’s Business team and has spearheaded this effort. The team focuses on connecting and raising funds from partners and external donors, marketing at events and conferences and organising an ambitious outreach programme.

“If you had said to us a year ago that we would have signed this many new sponsors, launched a new website and exhibited at high calibre events – we would have never believed it”, said Tobias. The team helps to take the solar car to schools across the UK and the world, forging connections to inspire the next generation of those who dare to think differently. Following appearances at the London Motor Show, Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Science Museum,

DUEM recently exhibited at the UN Climate Summit, COP22, and the Formula E ePrix in Marrakech. Tobias said: “The last 12 months for DUEM have been our busiest to date. COP22 was the focal point for world leaders, focusing their efforts on combating climate change as a planet. To exhibit our car, DUSC2015, in the presence of such leaders, world press and the heads of major corporations from across the world was a thrill and an honour”. Compared to all other solar car teams, the team’s budget is one of the lowest. They work hard to deliver incredible value for their sponsors, and to have their names at this world-renowned event is unparalleled. “Have you heard of another solar car exhibited at the United Nations Climate Summit?” said Tobias. “I personally feel your time at University is so much more than just getting a degree”, Tobias continued. “This project has enabled me to extend and support my education at Durham in innumerable avenues, giving me practical experience in negotiation skills, marketing management and networking. Forging links across the University is one of DUEM’s great attributes, and having increasingly close ties with the Business School is something we are very keen to expand on in the future.

“The team has worked incredibly hard to achieve all these opportunities to showcase the latest technology, educate the public about the planet and inspire the next generation. What we have planned for the future is going to change everything you know; all over again.”

ABOUT DURHAM UNIVERSITY ELECTRIC MOTORSPORT Durham University Electric Motorsport (DUEM) is the UK’s longest running solar car team. The team was founded in 2002 and has been at the forefront of innovation in this field for the past 15 years. The team combines over 50 students from various faculties to undertake this project as an entirely extra-curricular effort to deliver a car that does 70mph all on the power of the sun. The team would be delighted to speak to alumni and associates on an individual and company basis about its future plans as they gear up towards racing 3,000km across Australia in October 2017 at the World Solar Challenge.

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

INAUGURAL DUNELMENSIS AWARD • Presented to Ocean Wang MBA • 22

EXCEPTIONAL ALUMNUS RECOGNISED Ocean Wang honoured by Vice-Chancellor On Friday 13 May 2016, MBA graduate, Ocean Wang, became the first Durham University Business School alumnus to be presented with a Dunelmensis award. The presentation took place at the China World Hotel, the China World Trade Centre in Beijing. Only seven awards have ever been made and are given by the University’s Senate to Durham University alumni who have demonstrated meritorious and exceptional service in support of the University in a voluntary capacity, participated in Durham’s institutional advancement activities, and enhanced the University’s reputation nationally and internationally. In recent years, Ocean has supported the School in establishing its large annual recruiter events in Beijing and Shanghai each autumn, which have grown to attract over 200 recent graduates and recruiters. Some of these recruiters were introduced by Ocean from his own personal network. In support of graduate employability, he has continued to coordinate and host a series of themed career panels throughout the year. Engagement in China is directly attributed to his involvement and commitment.

Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, Professor Stuart Corbridge, said:

“Ocean is one of the School’s most dedicated ambassadors and the youngest alumnus to have received the Dunelmensis. As an MBA graduate, and chair of our international Committee in China, Ocean has been instrumental in connecting the School with our Chinese alumni, who are our largest alumni group outside of the UK. “Ocean is a big advocate of the Durham difference and is extremely passionate about the University and the city. This is evident in the time he gives to developing the School’s strategic agenda in the region.” The event also presented an opportunity for China-based Durham alumni and friends of the University in Beijing to meet the new Vice-Chancellor and learn about his vision and plans for the future of the University. The majority of the 70-strong audience were recent alumni of Chinese origin.

HOMIFY • Internships • 23

Nicolaus Berlin BA Business and Management, 2011

Philipp Dommermuth BA Business, 2009 Founder of Homify

Michael Gurney BA Business, 2010

Pedro dos Santos Ribeiro BA Business, 2010

Cana Cezairli BA Business, 2011

A number of undergraduate students from the Business School were invited to undertake internships at homify. Founded by Durham University Business School alumnus, Philipp Dommermuth, homify is an independent online platform used to showcase architecture, interior design, interior decorating and construction ideas. Located in Berlin, Germany, homify is a hybrid of the words Home and Modify, and is entirely self-financed. Its online platform focuses on collaboration, and attracts professionals from different design fields – connecting users and professionals across the globe to create an online community. Users are invited to create an ‘Ideabook’ for their projects to attract interested customers. During the internship, our students worked supporting the company in the area of sales and development. They also took part in a ten week ‘sales boot camp’, providing housing and a small coverage on fees. At the start of their boot camp, sessions covering basic sales pitch training and an introduction to sales took place. Through this learning, interns had to work to convince professionals to sign up to the homify platform; upload the images of their work; and use the homify site actively

as a marketing channel. Two students, Emma Hunter and Maria Fabre, managed to outgrow the standard sign-up process and sell premium deals to some architects. Throughout the boot camp, workshops took place and presentations were given by employees at homify, including one by Philipp, which gave students an insight into entrepreneurship, the industry and the expertise needed to succeed. They also visited Hamburg for a weekend so they could tour the city and see other parts of Germany. Nicolaus Berlin, Business Management (BA) alumnus and COO at homify said: “It was a pleasure to have the support from Durham students this summer. The common denominator of Durham students seems to be their active spirit and willingness to get their hands dirty when it comes to getting things accomplished.” Nicolaus concluded by saying:

“I really enjoy looking back at the years I spent at Durham and consider myself to be very lucky to work with my friends from those years.”

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

JANE ROBINSON • Durham University welcomes new COO • 24


Durham University welcomes new Chief Operating Officer The Durham MBA has been a springboard to Jane Robinson’s high-profile career. In 2005, Jane joined Gateshead Council, becoming Chief Executive. This September she came back to Durham University as Chief Operating Officer. She also holds a number of nonexecutive directorships, both in the North East of England at the Live Theatre, Newcastle and The Sage Gateshead, and nationally at The Big Lottery Fund. Jane’s move to Durham comes at an exciting but challenging time. She’s passionate about the North East of England, bringing her networks and links into the wider region, and also a new perspective of what’s possible from a different sector. “One of the most important things to me in my role as Chief Executive, has been how do you really engage the people who work for the organisation, and indeed the partners, as you make change. It’s never about one person, it’s about the whole organisation. That’s what I think is so exciting about the Vice-Chancellor being very clear about the vision and direction of the University, and making sure that everybody within the organisation is clear about how they contribute to that”. Jane completed her Durham MBA while working fulltime, just after her first son was born, with many essays written late at night. “It was a full-on time,” Jane said, “but doing the MBA, forced me to take time out of the day-to-day and expand my thinking. Critically, the MBA has enabled me to expand my boundaries and learn from different sectors and the differing experiences of my peers”. Her MBA dissertation, Mind the Gap, considered the relationship between arts and business, bridging a divide between them. On the back of this, Jane was seconded to work with the Arts Council, as part of Cool Britannia, bringing together government departments to support creative industries. Jane said: “The MBA really helped me to develop my thinking and gave me credibility going into a national secondment.” Her dissertation also led to Cultural Business Venture, a fund connecting creative people to the right support to grow both their businesses

and their creative practice. “It is an example of where my experience and my ability to test and develop ideas, through the Business School and the people there, really made a difference to my career and other businesses. It also played a small part in thinking about how national policy supported the role of creative business”. One benefit Jane saw from her MBA was independent validation that she had transferrable skills. When she moved into local government, it showed she had wider knowledge of financial and strategic planning and HR and gave Gateshead Council as a prospective employer the reassurance that they were taking on someone who had expanded and tested their learning in a wider area. At the Arts Council, she was tasked with leading the change process of merging nine regional arts boards into one organisation. The experience and knowledge she gained from the MBA on the process of change management and the HR implications stood her in good stead. Financial management has also been key. At the Council, she oversaw a budget of around half a billion pounds, and since 2010, she has needed to make savings of around £130 million whilst maintaining good services.

“I do think my learning on the MBA has been really important to me, building my confidence about how you interrogate numbers and understand them,” said Jane. “As a non-executive director, I’ve valued the experience from the MBA of very quickly looking at a set of management accounts and thinking, yes, I know where I need to be asking the questions. I think it gives you that grounding that you can then build on in your professional experience. When you’re learning, you’re doing it in a safe environment without anyone saying, ‘Did you not know what net present value meant?’ There is something as a professional to be able to test that, to ask other people and learn so that when you go back into your professional environment you can ask those questions with confidence.”

RISING THROUGH THE RANKINGS • The Business School further improves its global position • 25


The Business School further improves its global position

The most recognised rankings at a Business School level are run by the Financial Times (FT) and The Economist where we have performed consistently well this year. 2016 started well when we were ranked 66th in the world in the FT Top 100 Full-Time Global MBA rankings, a rise of 13 places on our previous position. This influential ranking positioned the School 11th in the UK and 23rd in Europe. Our ability to attract a diverse range of students was reflected in the result too, as we were ranked first in the world for the proportion of female students on the programme and eighth globally for the proportion of international students. In March, the School was delighted to climb two places in the FT Online MBA Ranking, placing us second in the UK and fourth in the world, a fantastic result. This important ranking also positions the School’s Online MBA programme as first in the world for value for money for the third year in a row, demonstrating the excellent return on investment for our alumni. The programme was also second globally in terms of student aims achieved, measured directly through alumni feedback. This result confirms the School’s position as one of the top business schools across the globe for an online MBA. In September the FT published its Masters in Management rankings. The School ranked 56th globally and sixth in the UK for 2016. Our diverse range of students gives us a strong ranking in this particular table, combined with the strong international connections and activities provided by the programme. This particular feature ensures our students have an inside perspective on being part of a global business. The Economist Full-time MBA rankings were published in October, ranking the School 67th globally and eighth in the UK. A particular highlight was the School’s ranking

for personal development and educational experience, in which we were delighted to achieve first position in the UK and fouth globally. This result reflects the superb feedback from our students regarding their educational experience on the programme. Finally, in December, the FT European Business Schools rankings were announced. The School continues to rank in the top 50, cementing its position as a leading Business School. Our performance in these influential rankings is testament to the high calibre of our students, faculty, research and alumni network, and confirms the School’s position as one of the top business schools globally. Professor Susan Hart, Dean of Durham University Business School, said: “Our 2016 ranking results are great news for the School and our students. As always we are committed to excellence in learning and teaching, and we will continue to evolve and develop to meet the future needs of potential students and their eventual employers. Our graduates will improve and shape society and business across the globe.”

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

A JOURNEY FOR AISHA • From corporate to social entrepreneurship • 26

A JOURNEY FOR AISHA From corporate to social entrepreneurship In September, Aisha Parlindungan, an MSc Management (Entrepreneurship) student was one of many excited students to complete and hand in their final dissertation. Aisha’s journey at Durham University Business School included great success in her academic achievements, but she is also an inspirational leader in female entrepreneurship. After a two-year success with her Birthday Donation Project, Aisha has made a significant impact for social entrepreneurship. During the summer, Aisha was invited to represent Durham University as part of a group of panellists at the Inspiring Females Conference 2016 held by North East Chamber of Commerce at Lumley Castle. At the Conference, Aisha shared her social entrepreneurship stories and her experiences at the Business School. Before she came to the Business School, Aisha had previously worked in finance and real estate and had not heard of social entrepreneurship. She said: “I’d always worked in corporate jobs, and now, my degree has made me realise I want to do something impactful. My studies at Durham University Business School have shown me my passion for social entrepreneurship.

“Education is so important, especially for females. Growing up, I came from nothing. I never imagined I would go to university because of the cost and my family’s financial situation. When I was an undergraduate student studying my first degree, I worked three different jobs. I saved and paid my own tuition fees, and then I continued to work after.

“I really wanted to do my Masters degree as I felt it was time to further develop my learning and capabilities. Not many of us have the mentality and confidence to push ourselves. My Birthday Donation Project gave me a chance to show the children that it’s not where you’re from that defines where you will be in your future. If you work hard, you will, for example, go to Durham University Business School to pursue a Masters degree.” Aisha chose Durham University Business School because she had the opportunity to complete her Masters in a year. She said: “I loved everything about the city, especially the Cathedral. I also knew Durham University is a leading university for almost every subject, especially entrepreneurship. I am really grateful for the education here at the Business School”. Aisha plans to continue her Birthday Donation Project, hoping to make it an annual event. The Project was first held in New York, teamed with Children’s Aid Society. This year, it was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, with the help of Aisha’s friends and Professors from Durham. At the moment Aisha is talking with her friends from India, and they are hoping to bring the project to India in 2017.

DURHAM UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL’S FIRST MOOC • More are planned in the future • 27

DURHAM UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL’S FIRST MOOC More are planned in the future Durham University Business School launched its first ever MOOC (massive open online course) in November, with more planned in the future. These free, internet-based mini-courses are open to students across the world, and aim to foster a community of lifelong learners. The emergence of MOOCs in recent years has been a major phenomenon in higher education, particularly across the United States. The School’s first MOOC, ‘Open Innovation for Competitive Advantage’, commenced in November, and is planned to run again in March. The course looks at how the development of new products and services is not confined within one organisation or indeed one country, but to succeed, businesses must be willing to work with others, to spot and develop ideas and opportunities – a model known as open innovation.

The course focuses on how to find ideas for innovation from the outside world – for example, from suppliers, competitors or customers – and how to integrate them into the supply chain, and develop new processes, products and services for future growth and success. Offered in association with FutureLearn, the course provides insight and research into how an organisation, regardless of its location, can harness the latest thinking in applying open innovation to achieve competitive advantage. The course covers a number of key, business-relevant themes: collaborating with suppliers; applying knowledge from outside the organisation; understanding relationships and expanding the business network; implementing and measuring open innovation; and integrating open innovation within the organisation.

As well as lectures and videos, participants have the opportunity to take part in various activities and are able to interact with other students, mentors and teachers via discussion boards. The course also includes peer-reviewed assignments. The course is delivered by Dr Christos Tsinopoulos, Senior Lecturer in Operations and Project Management at the Business School. Christos teaches on the MBA and MSc programmes, and his students therefore benefit firsthand from his cutting-edge research. Christos’s research and teaching focus on the management of innovation, technology and supply chain integration. His work, frequently supported by industry, focuses on the interface of customers and suppliers and its impact on research and development, and innovation more generally. He works with practitioners, international scholars, and professional organisations to identify questions that are relevant, and then applies rigorous methodological techniques to address them. Over 3,000 people registered for the Open Innovation MOOC and feedback so far has been extremely positive. This MOOC will run again in March and you can register your interest on the FutureLearn website. The School is also in the process of considering and developing a number of ideas for further MOOCs. We’ll keep you informed via our website, social media and Impact magazine. Visit: for more information.

ISSUE ONE • January 2017


RUNNING HANGZHOU 50km cross-country race



At the end of September, a team of Durham University Business School alumni from China who share a passion for both Durham and long-distance running entered the 2016 Hangzhou 50km cross-country race. The race was the first opportunity for the team to wear the Team Durham kit sponsored by the Business School and presented to them by Professor Susan Hart at a Durham University Business School alumni reception in Shanghai. “We know our students forge strong bonds with Durham and each other while they are studying, and it’s heartening to know that these relationships stretch across the years and across continents,” commented Professor Susan Hart. The School’s International Committee Chairman, Ocean Wang, who has been helping to bring together the running group as part of a range of alumni activities in the country, said: “I really value the ongoing relationship with Durham and the support we receive both as students and alumni. Working together we can be world-class.”

Alumnus Vincent Wang, MSc in Finance, launched 51offer in 2003 to help students apply for overseas studies. The enterprise prototype was known as UKer. The Chinese company helps to connect students to schools in the UK; Australia; New Zealand; Japan; Singapore; Switzerland; and the USA. The company’s motto is “Run fast Be brave”. What prompted you to start 51offer and how would you describe the business and its relationship with Durham University? The process of applying from China is confusing. This urged me to start the business. Durham University is one of our excellent business partners. We bring more outstanding students to Durham, enabling a deeper understanding of the Chinese market. What are your future plans? 51offer will promote international study on the online platform. My hope is that more students overseas will continue to advance their studies at the most appropriate schools, universities and institutions across the world. The ultimate target of 51offer is to become the premier agent serving overseas talent and resources. We want to make it easier for students to study overseas and to connect them to the right university for them. Our aim is to expand globally.

Durham University Business School alumni (left to right): Emma (Xiuzhu) Chen, Qingru Xia, Tony Lam, Anni You and Zhenghua Ho sport their new Team Durham kit before the 2016 Hangzhou 50km Cross-Country Race.

To find out more about 51offer, contact Vincent at:

ECONOMICS TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP • Sylvia Yin listed in Asia’s Forbes 30 Under 30 • 29

ECONOMICS TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP Sylvia Yin listed in Asia’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Having been listed in Asia’s Forbes 30 Under 30, Sylvia Yin has already made her mark in the business community with her online fashion shopping platform, ‘Shoppr’. As co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Sylvia has created South East Asia’s go-to place for a personalised fashion-shopping experience.

Do you have any tips for current students looking to pursue a career in entrepreneurship? Keep an open mind and try not to be too caught up with failure. Look at your business as a giant laboratory and everything you do as a hypothesis you are testing. Test something, measure, assess success, learn and grow from it.

It was after graduating from Durham University Business School in 2014 with an undergraduate degree in economics that Sylvia took a chance at entrepreneurship. So, what is Sylvia’s secret to success?“Test your idea, measure results and learn from it.”

What’s next for Sylvia? I aspire to expand Shoppr into other countries in South East Asia. I hope for every girl in the region interested in fashion and shopping to think of Shoppr.

Tell us about your exhilarating journey since graduating. Founding a start-up a few weeks after graduation means it has been a non-stop adventure for me. From knowing next to nothing about entrepreneurship and retail, to being listed in Asia’s Forbes 30 Under 30, it’s been an exciting journey. What made you decide to make the change into entrepreneurship? It happened organically. When I returned home from England, I was struck by how difficult it was to shop for fashion online in Malaysia. Recognising this gap and with the encouragement of a friend, I decided to turn my ‘gap year’ into a year to experiment with entrepreneurship. How have your studies supported your career? If there is one thing Durham has helped me achieve, it’s the skills to be an independent learner. In entrepreneurship, there isn’t a lecturer or seminar leader to grade your work or provide you with step-by-step guidance. You rely on yourself to seek out people in your network for advice, or the material to help you learn. My economics degree has given me both guidance and freedom to grow and learn independently.

“As for my personal aspiration, I would like to grow and mature into a leader who is able to bring her team to greater heights.”

ISSUE ONE • January 2017

THE BUSINESS OF BARBECUES • An MBA entrepreneurial journey • 30

THE BUSINESS OF BARBECUES An MBA entrepreneurial journey This September, Christian Few moved to Durham to undertake Durham University Business School’s Full-time MBA programme. With such vast experience in the business and entrepreneurial sector, Christian shares with us his story so far as he embarks on his journey through the Durham MBA’s Entrepreneurship Pathway.

“The Durham MBA is challenging, inspiring, thought-provoking, and will provide you with enhanced business capabilities to advance your career aspirations.”

The Entrepreneurship pathway helps you navigate the complex business landscape, by interacting with current topical case studies, meeting with significant entrepreneurs and participating in interactive capability enhancement sessions.

Dr Julie Hodges, Director, MBA Programmes

Christian is the Founder of KASAI Charcoal Co. Ltd., a company which specialises in the international distribution and supply of pre-packed barbecue charcoal, disposable grills and ancillary products. Christian’s journey so far has been challenging, but rewarding, and nothing that can’t be tackled without investing in some good coffee, he says. So, tell us about your entrepreneurial journey. KASAI was founded in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2013 after identifying a market opportunity in the barbecue sector. This resulted in the creation and supply of eco-friendly coconut barbecue briquettes to a vastly under-innovated barbecue charcoal market. Starting with small spot orders in both South East Asia and Australia, we raised enough capital to attend trade shows in Germany, Dubai, Las Vegas and New Orleans. This allowed us to share our vision with distributors across the world, who saw our potential and we gradually received orders in both Europe and North America. It hasn’t been all plain sailing whilst in Thailand, however. Within the last three years, my factory has burnt down, been flooded twice and faced a military junta. Then again, nothing worth having comes easy. Why did you decide to undertake a Durham University Business School Full-time MBA? First and foremost, the Durham MBA stood out for me because of its strong focus on developing strategy, leadership and entrepreneurial thinking through its application of theoretical concepts on global business situations. Second, another prominent aspect was the ability to personalise your own route-specific modules through the Entrepreneurship Pathway, which in turn allows me to deepen my knowledge in areas most relevant to my career path. As somebody who already has my own start-up company, I was particularly motivated by this. And lastly, its reputation and prestige spoke for itself.

How does the programme support you in your career? Directly after completing my MBA, I aim to develop another start-up, or to work alongside other budding entrepreneurs who share the same passion, commitment and drive as I do. Having the Entrepreneurship Pathway at my disposal means there is an opportunity to be creative with my ideas. The continuous support from Business School staff and alumni is also extremely important, and the ability to test out projects without having to commit to excessive start-up costs before our ideas are brought to market is a great advantage. The MBA will help me to achieve these objectives by providing a thorough and detailed grounding in all the key areas crucial to business success. Although I am interacting with and demonstrating skills in many business areas on a regular basis, much of my experience has been honed whilst working. There are some management fundamentals in particular that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience. What does success mean to you? I like to think of success as a moving target. I don’t think we ever actually achieve it. I would say however, success is the ability to do what you love every day. This may sound simple, but what you love changes over time and having the ability to change what you are doing to match your passion is true success.

LINKS The Durham Full-time MBA KASAI Charcoal Co. Ltd.


UPCOMING EVENTS 28 JAN MBA Open Event An open event is a great way to find out about the Durham MBA. You’ll learn about the MBA from the programme director and will get the chance to network with current students who can give you first-hand feedback about the Durham experience.

02 FEB QS World Grad School Tour, Toronto, Canada Join us at the QS World Grad School Tour in Toronto, Canada. We would love to meet you and have the opportunity to tell you more about our courses and what it’s like studying at a worldclass university in a beautiful city with a world heritage centre at its heart.

04 FEB QS World MBA Tour in Toronto, Canada Thinking about applying for an MBA? Come and meet us in your own country. We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about Durham and our programmes.

06 FEB QS World MBA Tour, Montreal, Canada Thinking about applying for an MBA? Come and meet us at the QS fair in Montreal. You will learn much more about our MBA than you can from just reading the brochure.

08 FEB Online Information Session for prospective postgraduate students Want to find out more about Durham University Business School, but can’t visit in person? Visit us from the comfort of your own armchair at an online information session.

14 FEB QS World Grad School Tour, Bogota, Colombia Join us at the QS World Grad School Tour in Bogota, Colombia. We would love to meet you and have the opportunity to tell you more about our courses and what it’s like studying at a worldclass university in a beautiful city with a world heritage centre at its heart.

16 FEB QS World Grad School Tour, Mexico City, Mexico Considering applying to Durham University Business School? Come and meet us in your own country. We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about Durham and our programmes.

18 FEB QS Connect 1-2-1 in Mexico City Come and meet us at the QS Fair in Mexico City. We would love to meet you and have the opportunity to tell you more about our courses and what it’s like studying at a world-class university.

28 FEB QS World Grad School Tour, Thessaloniki, Greece Join us at the QS World Grad School Tour in Thessaloniki, Greece. We would love to meet you and have the opportunity to tell you more about our courses and what it’s like studying at a worldclass university in a beautiful city with a world heritage centre at its heart.

02 MAR QS World Grad School Tour, Athens, Greece Considering applying to Durham University Business School? Come and meet us in your own country. We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about Durham and our programmes.

04 MAR QS World Grad School Tour, London, UK Join us at the QS World Grad School Tour in London, UK. We would love to meet you and have the opportunity to tell you more about our courses and what it’s like studying at a world-class university in a beautiful city with a world heritage centre at its heart.

16 MAR QS World MBA Tour in Rome, Italy Considering applying to Durham University Business School? Come and meet us in your own country. We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about Durham and our programmes.

18 MAR QS World Grad School Tour, Naples, Italy Considering applying to Durham University Business School? Come and meet us in your own country. We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about Durham and our programmes.

06 APR Online Information Session for prospective postgraduate students Want to find out more about Durham University Business School, but can’t visit in person? Visit us from the comfort of your own armchair at an online information session.

06 MAY MBA Open Event Meet the programme director and network with current students at an MBA open event. Open events are a great way to find out first-hand about the course, the careers support we provide and the application process.

11 MAY QS World MBA Tour, Accra, Ghana Considering applying to Durham University Business School? Come and meet us in your own country. We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about Durham and our programmes.

13 MAY QS World MBA Tour, Lagos, Nigeria Come and meet us at the QS Fair in Nigeria. We would love to meet you and have the opportunity to tell you more about our courses and what it’s like studying at a world-class university.

23 MAY Online Information Session for prospective postgraduate students Want to find out more about Durham University Business School, but can’t visit in person? Visit us from the comfort of your own armchair at an online information session.

16 MAR MBA Open Event


Thinking about applying for an MBA? Come and meet us at our next open event. You will learn much more about our MBA than you can from just reading the brochure.

LINKS View the full programme at:

At a glance • 30 month part-time programme • Flexible study, 100% online or complete some learning at Durham

• Practice-led, instilling skills that can be put to immediate use • Career support services, professional development activities

Find out more at:

IMPACT Magazine Issue 1  

Durham University Business School's thought leadership and news magazine.

IMPACT Magazine Issue 1  

Durham University Business School's thought leadership and news magazine.