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Issue 24 | June 2013 Hull University Business School

Business Innovation EďŹƒciency Collaboration

Contents Issue 24 | June 2013 03



Innovation + efficiency = high performance – interview with Alumus James Young


‘Our business is business’ – collaborating with the Business School


Going global – Humber SMEs required for project


Building high performance


Effective innovation – Investigating and enhancing innovation on a global scale News in brief


Innovation + efficiency = high performance Alumnus James Young discusses his role in innovation as Research and Development Director at Reckitt Benckiser

Forthcoming events

Picture credits © University of Hull MAY 2013 CB~2902






‘Our business is business’ – collaborating with the Business School

Our research needs you – Humber SMEs required for project

Research project to investigate and enhance innovation

Our vision: to be a leading UK business school with an international reputation for teaching, learning and research that is relevant to a fast-changing, interconnected world.

Welcome This edition of our Business magazine focuses on how we as a school are collaborating with organisations to aid innovation and efficiency.

The current global economic crisis has had at least one positive outcome – the urgent need for businesses to become more innovative and also more efficient, cutting waste and costs in the process. Business projects are being forced to become more streamlined, workplaces to be more efficient and innovation positioned at the centre of an organisation’s strategy. And much of our current research reflects this theme. Examples of such research include Professor Richard Vidgen’s role in assessing the performance of workplaces and barriers to high level efficiency (page 9) or working with international companies to change their culture to one of accepting new services and innovation (page 10).

As a school, we are committed to engaging with businesses – regionally, nationally and internationally. To reinforce this pledge, we are pleased to announce that Professor David Grant has recently been appointed as Associate Dean for Business Engagement (page 6). As he states, ‘our business is business’ and without these relationships, the Business School would not be the world-class institution it is today. Professor Terry Williams Dean Hull University Business School

In a recession, it is the more groundbreaking and pioneering businesses that will grow and prosper. Innovation is key to business efficiency and it is a skill that we encourage in our students. Our alumnus interview this month with James Young, an Area R&D Director at Reckitt Benckiser, reflects how important new ideas can be (page 4). 3

Innovation + efficiency = high performance Whether it is Strepsils to Soweto, Vanish to Vladivostock, James Young is responsible for meeting the needs of Reckitt Benckiser’s customers.

A former Executive MBA (EMBA) student, James has spent much of his career in R&D, so Business Magazine was keen to ask him what makes working in this important business area so interesting. BM: R&D is a specialist area of expertise – could you describe what your role entails? Why did you choose to go into this area? James Young (JY): My R&D role covers all technical elements of the products we make at Reckitt Benckiser. Everything from ensuring the products meet performance requirements and aesthetics, interaction with packaging (and the human body for healthcare), developing new manufacturing processes as well as controlling costs and finished product quality. The role is broad and we work very closely with colleagues in our supply chain and marketing, sales and finance teams. My degree was in Natural Sciences (Chemistry) and I still use a lot of this knowledge in my day to day job. I have always been interested in applying science to ‘real’ products and get a great feeling of satisfaction from seeing finished products on the shelf and consumers using them. The science in many of our products can be quite complex and use many different elements of chemistry to work. So getting the performance and quality right for an appropriate price can often be very challenging. BM: Part of your role is to develop new processes and products. How do you make sure that you are continually innovative and in line with market demands? JY: Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) is a fascinating market. Consumers often have a great relationship with their favourite products but because purchases are relatively frequent the opportunity to change brands means the marketplace is very competitive. My organisation never tires of challenging the norm and is always on the lookout for breakthrough innovative ideas that are attractive to consumers and can outperform the market. We are passionate about staying close to our consumers and learning how we can design products that are better through innovation.


James Young Curriculum Vitae

1998-2001 First Line Manager, Procter & Gamble 2001-2004 Product Development Manager, Procter & Gamble 2004-2007 Technology Platform Manager, Reckitt Benckiser

2006-2008 EMBA, Hull University Business School

BM: You are director of a large geographical area. How do you ensure efficient and effective communication across such diverse audiences? JY: The geographical area I operate in (Russia, Middle East & Africa) is not only vast in distance but also in cultural diversity and environment. Keeping a good communication flow is vital to ensuring fast delivery of projects and initiatives. There are many IT tools that we use to enable communication (mobile email, video conferencing, smart websites etc) and clearly we do travel a lot to meet up face to face with each of our teams. However, most important is the personal relationships that we establish with all key stakeholders in our teams and in each of the markets – this is critical and far more important than any laptop gadget. A key core value in Reckitt Benckiser is ‘partnership’ and we strive to build and grow the relationships both within and outside the organisation that ensure we continue to be successful. BM: You studied the EMBA programme at the Business School. How has this prepared you for your current position? Do you have any advice for those currently undertaking the programme? JY: The Executive MBA programme at the Business School was excellent preparation for the role I currently do. For me, the most challenging part of the MBA was the continual juggling of commitments and managing all the different tasks in the time required. Keeping on track with coursework as well as holding down a demanding job and maintaining a family life taught me a lot about prioritisation and time management, as well as how to make time to ‘get your head down and focus’ when you really needed to do. This is critical in any demanding job too.

2007-2009 R&D Category Manager – New Technologies Group, Reckitt Benckiser 2009-2011 R&D Category Manager – Healthcare, Reckitt Benckiser 2001-2012 R&D Director – Africa/Middle East, Reckitt Benckiser 2012 to present Area R&D Director – Russia, Middle East & Africa, Reckitt Benckiser

‘My advice for anyone who is currently undertaking the programme is to stick at it! Even when times are tough you will be surprised how much you can achieve by just getting on with it. Often putting something off may seem like the best way to handle things but my experience is that it usually takes longer to think how not to do something than to actually do it. Never give up!’

About Reckitt Benckiser Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is a global consumer goods leader in health, hygiene and home with a purpose of delivering innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes. The RB portfolio is led by 19 global Powerbrands including Nurofen, Durex and Dettol. The organisation also runs a very successful graduate scheme in many business areas, from R&D to logistics. To find out more visit 5

‘Our business is business’ Over the past eleven years, the Business School has worked with hundreds of companies, regionally, nationally and internationally, putting our academic strengths to practical use. Projects range from helping an NHS trust save millions through leadership training to tracking the economic value of the region’s coastal eco-system, but it is this diversity that makes the school so significant. ‘It’s simple really. Our business is business’, states Professor David Grant, Associate Dean for Business Engagement – a newly created role which only serves to highlight the necessity of a close working relationship between business and academia. ‘As a school we interact with business in over a dozen different ways, from collection of data, to collaborative conferences and academic training and interventions. ‘In return, we are able to use this interaction in order to create research – without it we wouldn’t be generating knowledge to publish and disseminate to students and the wider community.’ ‘Our academics are involved with businesses on so many different levels,’ continues Professor Grant. ‘Regionally we are

playing a key role in the wider University’s commitment to encouraging economic growth across the Humber area – I recently edited a white paper: ‘The Humber’s Future Economic and Sustainable Development’, a culmination of interdisciplinary research across the Business School, the Department of Engineering and the Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies. ‘This research project was developed to support the Humber Local Economic Partnership (LEP). Its aims were to identify the future economic landscape of the Humber estuary based on its current and future potential, such as port-centric logistics development, offshore wind energy projects, and other renewable energy projects. Experts from the Business School worked with regional organisations and academics from the wider University to write this comprehensive document.’ Professor Grant continued: ‘However, we have a global reach, both through working with the international businesses in the region, as well as creating bespoke academic programmes for organisations abroad.’ The school’s Logistics Institute has many practical examples of business interactions as it regularly reaches out through consultancy, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), research and business-focused activities – such as the new Supply Chain Risk and Resilience (SCRR) Club, in association with Unipart Logistics.

Professor David Grant, Associate Dean for Business Engagement

‘We are part of the anchor institution for the region but we think globally, we act globally and we bring global knowledge to the table. Why wouldn’t businesses want to work with us?’

Dr Omera Khan, Director of the Institute, instigated the SCRR Club which launched in London in May. ‘Every business has a supply chain, from the corner shop to the multinational. And they all encounter risks, as recently demonstrated through the supermarket horsemeat scandals and cyber attacks on security’. 6

Case study: William Jackson Food Group (WJFG) ‘The club provides business members with an exceptional opportunity to gain the very latest insights from a range of prominent logistics and business professionals, ensuring that supply chains are watertight.’ However, this is just one of many ongoing joint logistics and business projects, as Dr Khan continues: ‘We have recently completed a KTP with textiles company Johnstons of Elgin. The intervention was designed to improve operational efficiency through optimising the supply chain. ‘The project has been a resounding success and has contributed massively to a change in culture, improving organisation structure and reducing operational costs. ‘As an institute, we have several KTPs that are in progress or just at the end stage. KTPs are a sound way of bringing together academia and organisations to improve or develop a specific project – and they really do work.’ A key part of the school’s ongoing engagement with business is the corporate partner scheme. The scheme counts organisations such as BP, Smith + Nephew and all of Hull’s major sport clubs among its number. The partners offer advice and guidance on curricula to ensure graduates are ready for the world of work, as well as a comprehensive programme of guest speakers. They are also given privileged access to worldclass business research and engagement with our students through placements and projects.’

William Jackson Food Group (WJFG), a Hull-based corporate partner, has worked with the Business School to create and deliver a two week residential staff development programme. The diverse programme encompasses topics including sustainability, finance, marketing, logistics and HR, as well as less traditionally ‘academic’ skills such as presentation and leadership skills. Delegates come from across the whole group and have been identified as employees with potential to progress their careers within WJFG. The programme is delivered by a combination of business school staff, executives from within the group and guest speakers. Since its inception, six cohorts have gone through the programme, which is delivered at the Business School to take delegates out of their regular working environment. The client commented: ‘We have drawn tremendous benefit from working with the Business School team in developing bespoke programmes to meet our particular needs. ‘The consistently positive feedback from delegates attending these programmes is testament to the quality of the school’s resources and teaching.’ The programme tailors with the group’s commitment to developing talent at all levels and promoting from within those who show dedication to the business. A number of delegates from the programme have progressed to more challenging roles within the group.

As Professor Grant concludes: ‘We are part of the anchor institution for the region but we think globally, we act globally and we bring global knowledge to the table. Why wouldn’t businesses want to work with us?’ The Business School interacts with organisations in a range of ways including: -

Cutting-edge research data collection World class resources Undergraduate professional placements MBA projects Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (working with the University’s Knowledge Exchange) Non-accredited and accredited open programmes Business orientated conferences

For more information about working with the Business School, please email 7

Going Global: insights into international networks and experience for SMEs Academics at Hull University Business School, led by Dr Steve Johnson, are inviting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to participate in a new research project into how businesses prepare for and take part in the process of internationalisation. A range of businesses are required to share their experience – from those that have already been involved in international markets or are taking the first steps, to those which are in the pre-planning process. It is anticipated that the research, which will last until the autumn, will look at ways businesses can benefit from the experience of others and their lessons through networking. ‘Internationalisation is not just about selling abroad. It could be searching for suppliers in other countries or getting involved in international supply chains, which is particularly appropriate at the moment with the potential massive investment in the region’s renewables sector,’ said Dr Johnson. ‘Taking ideas global is a daunting proposition for many businesses, especially those who have no tangible experience. So this project will explore ways in which SMEs who are hoping to embark on international trade can use different networks to meet and work with experienced peers’. The research will map the SMEs operating networks, focusing on how they acquire information and advice when considering entering international markets. It will look at the way that

existing relationships and communication patterns either help or hinder the process of overcoming information, knowledge and resource gaps. Dr Johnson concluded: ‘It has been suggested that in economies that have limited experience of internationalisation, SMEs need to expand their networks from the inner circle of local social capital to embrace wider sources of expertise. This research hopes to discover how these networks can work to the benefit of the local economy.’ The project is focused on participants from the city of Hull and surrounding sub-region. It is funded by the Institute for Small Business and Enterprise’s Research and Knowledge Exchange (RAKE) fund, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Barclays Bank. Dr Johnson will be presenting the research findings in a Business Bites series seminar on 11 November. Held at the Business School, the event is organised in conjunction with the Institute of Directors East Yorkshire. For more information about this and the project visit

Dr Steve Johnson 8

Key facts The research will explore the ways in which SMEs acquire knowledge around internationalisation. It will focus on the city of Hull and surrounding sub-region – an area that has suffered considerably from the current economic recession, but where there is also good potential for future growth. The research team would like to contact businesses in the Hull and Humber region who have experience of entering international markets or are in the process of seeking to enter international markets, to learn more about their experiences. For further information please contact: Dr Steve Johnson Dr John Nicholson

Building high performance What constitutes a high-performing workplace? How can organisations improve their performance? These questions were explored in research by Professor Richard Vidgen, in association with a consortium of Australian and Danish universities.

The project, funded by the Australian Government, focused on organisations in the Australian services sector, looking at the factors that constitute a high performance workplace (HPW). The data collected provides insights into the leadership, culture and management practices promoted in higher performing workplaces, and associated productivity and profitability benefits. Professor Vidgen said: ‘In Australia in particular, the rate of economic growth is determined by three supply factors – population, participation and productivity. In the past, population and employment participation have made a positive contribution to economic growth. However, due to factors such as declining birth rates, this will not be the case in the next 40 years. As a result, productivity will have a much greater impact.

The firms and their employees were also asked about the management practices (e.g. human resources, accounting, ICT) and the organisational culture (e.g. conflict, workplace emotions, values). Initial results showed the HPWs consistently outperform others with regards to managing their intangible assets, which is associated with higher levels of productivity and profitability. It also highlighted the challenges and barriers faced by all organisations in lifting workplace performance such as talent retention and motivating the workforce.

‘The onus is now on improving management and leadership skills in the workplace’

‘People at work are the engine of an economy’s performance, therefore the workplace is at the heart of the productivity debate. While previously the government’s focus has been on investment in training and infrastructure development at the higher level, the onus is now on improving management and leadership skills in the workplace.’

Building on this project, contributors have designed workplace performance strategies to assist some of the participating organisations. At the end of the research, the organisations will again be assessed using the HPWI to establish any performance improvements and changes resulting from interventions.

The research assessed organisational performance using a High Performance Workplace Index (HPWI). The HPWI comprises 18 performance measures in six categories: profitability and productivity; innovation; employee experience; fairness; leadership, and customer orientation.

Professor Vidgen continued: ‘This index is now being applied by the South Australian Government and there is ongoing work for the HPWI to become the standard benchmark of performance across Australia and beyond.’

Following on from this initial project, the research group is now working with a leading media organisation to explore employee attitudes, firm performance and the role of news media in the workplace. Initial research results have been delivered to the client and further work is underway. 9

News in Brief

Effective Innovation

Recognition for logistics graduate A logistics graduate has scooped his second award for research conducted during his PhD at the Business School. Dr Graham Heaslip, Deputy Head of the School of Business at the National University of Ireland and former student, received a Highly Commended Award at the Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards. The accolade adds to his previous win of the celebrated James Cooper Memorial Cup. His thesis focused on humanitarian logistics – which specialises in the organisation, delivery and storage of supplies during natural disasters and complex emergencies – and received the commendations in recognition of the high-quality nature of the research. Broadening students’ horizons The University of Hull has been recognised for its outstanding partnership work in China. Through an alliance with the China Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE), the University brings Chinese students to Hull to study and furthers a greater understanding of Chinese higher education and culture. Business subjects are an extremely popular option with students coming to study at Hull through the partnership. Many choose to complete their third undergraduate year across a broad range of business programmes offered at the school. CSCSE awarded Hull the ‘Best Overseas Partner University’ at its annual study abroad forum in Beijing. Just four awards were made to international universities, and Hull was the only British university to receive an honour.

Enhancing Employability New Career Sessions ran earlier this year to equip MSc students with the tools and techniques to be successful in their career planning and development. The sessions – run in conjunction with career-coaching specialists, The Career Farm – included guidance on evaluating skill sets, revealed insider tips on what recruiters want and how students can discover the best career for them to help improve their chances of success upon graduation. Each student left the workshop with an individual copy of The Career Farm’s professional Career Development Workbook. 10

Professor Gerald Midgley is currently collaborating on a large-scale research project to investigate and enhance innovation processes in global companies. The project is a partnership between leading communications company, Ericsson; international technology giant, ABB; and international academics led by Dr Erik Lindhult from Mälardalen University in Sweden, where Professor Midgley is a Visiting Professor. The team is currently looking at how the companies can add value to their offerings by developing innovative new services and business models. New approaches will be developed within these organisations, and the researchers will look at the implications for innovation strategy more generally. Professor Midgley said: ‘Ericsson and ABB are very different companies with very different products and services, but they face similar innovation issues. As they are not in competition with each other, it makes collaboration much easier.’ ‘Both are large companies with strong and established product lines. They believe that the best way for them to develop is through the creation of services around existing lines as well as brand new services. It’s an exciting project, and I am delighted to be involved.’ In conjunction with the research, Professor Midgley recently travelled to Sweden to train Ericsson and ABB managers in the use of a systems approach for taking account of issues across the whole organisation (and beyond) when enhancing innovation. This will help the companies avoid unintended side effects when planning and implementing change.

Supporting the public sector

Alumni leaders wanted!

No organisation likes to see waste or inefficiency. This is especially true when hundreds of millions of pounds of public money is at stake. With this in mind, the government launched a five year programme to embed continuous improvement across the public sector.

Could you help to inspire the next generation of business professionals?

However, Debbie Simpson, CEO of The Institute for Continuous Improvement in the Public Sector (ICiPS), recognised that when the programme ended in 2010, momentum could be lost along with the opportunity to deliver lasting and significant change to the way the public sector operates. She therefore founded ICiPS to ensure the public sector was supported to be self sufficient with the implementation of continuous improvement and expertise and knowledge shared. Debbie explained: ‘Departments across the public sector have been able to save millions through improving operational processes and it is this type of experience, knowledge and innovation that ICiPS is working to make available across the sector via its web portal and networks. ‘To encourage skills development, ICiPS has designed a competency framework embracing core skills required to succeed in delivering change, such as leadership, innovation and systems thinking.

‘The framework means that for the first time, no matter how or where an individual gained their expertise, there is a common understanding of levels of competence.’ ICiPS also undertakes research and it is here that the Business School has developed a relationship with the organisation through Dr Amanda Gregory, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, who is leading the institute’s research. ‘We hope to improve understanding of how public sector organisations can succeed with continuous improvement – challenging accepted practices and proposing not only new ways of doing things but also new things to do,’ said Dr Gregory.

We offer current students and recent graduates the opportunity to be mentored by Business School alumni as part of the student-alumni e-mentoring scheme. By mentors sharing their knowledge and expertise, they help to prepare students for the world of work, providing essential career and business guidance on skills such as interview techniques, networking, CV writing and action planning. In return mentors gain first-hand experience of what the next generation of business professionals will have to offer. Matched by areas of expertise, the pairs communicate for around an hour a week over a six-month period, providing mentees with business insight while helping prepare them for the world of work. The project has been running since 2007 with over 170 pairs being matched. The project is just one of the many ways alumni can interact with the school. Other opportunities include giving a guest lecture, submitting a testimonial or even providing a project or work placement. If you are interested in becoming an alumni e-mentor, or if you have recently graduated and feel you would benefit from being mentored, contact Sophie Appleton, Alumni Communications Manager via email at

‘I personally want to be involved with ICiPS because it has the potential to make a significant difference. Our systems expertise is a good fit with such a challenging, yet achievable, agenda and I look forward to developing research over the coming years.’ For more information about ICiPS, please visit


Explore the Business School and University campus at one of our Open Days

Event diary

Business events

Short courses

Full- and part-time open events Open events offer the chance for those looking to study at the Business School to visit the facilities at Hull or Scarborough.

Engaging with the University: community and academic collaboration 2-4.30pm, Wednesday 5 June 2013

Supply chain security: evaluating and defeating threats to the supply chain 1-3 July 2013

Business Bites series – in conjunction with IoD East Yorkshire

Logistics Workout: competitive advantage through supply chain excellence 23-27 September 2013

Visitors will meet members of staff and students from the school, helping applicants to make an informed decision about their future education. Please visit for further details. Full-time open days 11.30 am, Saturday 29 June 2013 11.30 am, Saturday 14 September 2013 11.30 am, Saturday 12 October 2013 Part-time study 5.30 pm, Wednesday 26 June 2013 5.30 pm, Wednesday 4 September 2013 For further information, general queries should be sent to, but for specific entry information please contact Bella Anand, Admissions Manager, at

Organisational storytelling – talking the talk and walking the walk 5.30pm, Monday 8 July 2013 Regional collaboration = global competitiveness 5.30pm, Monday 11 November 2013 For more information and to book your place at these events, please contact Ian Calvert

To reserve your place, please contact Sam Davy on +44 (0)1482 347500 or

For further information about any of the events listed above or forthcoming activities, please visit the events section of our website, Hull University Business School Hull HU6 7RX +44 (0)1482 347500

Business magazine issue 24, June 2013  
Business magazine issue 24, June 2013  

Hull University Business School, Business magazine, issue 24