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Network Birmingham Business School

Alumni Newsletter

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The global connections driving international business

INSIDE 3 Transformational leadership in the NHS 6 The onus on ownership 8 Ideas Watch

Issue 4 2013


Your Network

Welcome to Your Network I am delighted to introduce my first issue of Your Network as Dean of Birmingham Business School. Since starting here in October, I’ve been very pleased and proud of the links and relationships we have already forged with our alumni and I’m excited to see them develop, enabling our students, staff and alumni to form an even stronger Birmingham network. The immediate future will bring exciting changes to the Business School as a whole. We will be investing over the next three years which will see a significant amount of pump priming into our MBA and undergraduate programmes. We’ll also be embarking on an ambitious programme to recruit new academics, bringing international talent to the School and revitalising our teaching and research. Our new postgraduate teaching centre is scheduled to open in mid-2015 and will provide world-class facilities for our MSc and MBA cohorts. It will also enable us to house much more of our undergraduate teaching within the current Business School, enhancing our undergraduates’ experience of their time here at Birmingham. One area where we have not performed as well as we should is our MBA programme. To further enhance the quality and employability of our MBA students we are putting a number of measures in place: an ‘initiative fund’ focused

on recruiting the highest quality students; support from alumni ambassadors and mentors; providing more proactive support for students; improving our relationships with major companies and developing applied programme modules to focus on real business problems. Our aim is to see our performance and ranking positions improve as the changes we have made take effect. Remember that you can also play your part in helping your school. Please keep in touch and make sure your contact and business details are up to date and I urge you to participate in any Financial Times or Economist ranking surveys that you are contacted about – your input really is vital. All of our alumni make a huge difference to the life and success of our school. From blue chip chief executives delivering high-profile lectures to colleagues on the first step of the career ladder offering advice and insight on getting the best from Birmingham, your help is hugely appreciated and valued. There’s more information about how you can get involved with your school on page 15, or please contact us at

Professor Simon Collinson Dean of Birmingham Business School

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Professor Simon Collinson: the CV Simon has held faculty positions at the University of Edinburgh, Henley Business School and Warwick Business School. He has also held visiting positions at ASGM (Sydney), Kelley Business School (Indiana) and Hitotsubashi University (Tokyo). He is currently a Visiting Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, PRC China. Simon is also a member of the governing council of the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the British Academy of Management (BAM) Council and a founder and Board Member of the consulting firm The Simplicity Partnership. Simon’s research is on international business strategy and the management of innovation, with an emphasis on emerging economies, particularly China. Leadership, innovation, market-entry strategies and organisational complexity in large and small multinational firms which bridge different market, cultural and institutional contexts are core themes in his research. Through his work with The Simplicity Partnership, Simon has developed ways to help firms simplify their organisation structures and corporate strategies to focus more effectively on adding value. He has research, consulting and executive teaching experience with firms including Airbus, British Aerospace, HSBC, ICI, Kodak (Japan), Philips and Vodafone. He was WBS Director for Prudential’s Executive teaching programme (‘PruU’) at Warwick Business School for over five years.

@BBSalumniUoB Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6482 Email:

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Transformational leadership for the NHS Birmingham Business School and the Health Services Management Centre – as part of a consortium of internationally renowned institutions – have been selected to support the NHS to deliver the largest and most comprehensive programme of leadership development ever undertaken.

Around 25,000 NHS staff including doctors, nurses, healthcare scientists, and HR and finance staff will have access to foundation-, mid- and senior-level leadership programmes from September 2013. The consortium for the mid- and senior-level programmes was led by KPMG, and includes the Health Services Management Centre and Birmingham Business School, National Voices, and Manchester Business School. They will work in conjunction with the NHS Leadership Academy, local delivery partners, charities and Learning and Education Boards to co-design and deliver a programme that will support the transformation of healthcare for the 21st century – putting patients at the centre with compassionate leadership as the norm, rather than the exception.

‘The future of the NHS depends on its leaders. We must be compassionate, committed and courageous in our words and deeds, and knowledgeable and evidence-based in our actions. ‘Fantastic leadership can be spontaneous, but more often it has to be worked hard at. Now, more than ever, it is important we look after our own development,

Professor Simon Collinson, Dean of Birmingham Business School says: ‘The award of this contract is a testament to the wide range of strengths in the area of public sector leadership and management delivered by Birmingham Business School, the Health Services Management Centre and other partners across the University of Birmingham. It is further evidence of our outstanding track record of delivering senior-level executive programmes that help public and private sector organisations add value effectively and efficiently and builds on our existing strong links with KPMG.’

Karen Lynas, Deputy Managing Director of the NHS Leadership Academy, says: ‘Our goal is for NHS patients to be treated in a culture of compassion, dignity and respect, and, as we have seen, this cannot be achieved if we don’t have appropriately skilled leaders at every level of the service.

The organisations selected as part of the consortium were chosen through a competitive and rigorous tender process, which saw more than 30 organisations bid to be part of the consortium.

‘The Academy will be working with globally respected academic institutions and high performing organisations with a history of leadership development to design and deliver three exceptional leadership programmes.’

continually improving our ability to transform services for our patients and families. ‘The University of Birmingham has a range of outstanding programmes to support us in this, and is a great place to learn and grow.’ Sarah-Jane Marsh, CEO Birmingham Children’s Hospital (MSc Health Care Management, 2005; MA Russian and East European Studies, 2000)

‘We want all NHS staff to work in an environment of excellence in care, where they feel liberated to focus on those things that attracted them to work in the NHS: such as providing exceptional care to patients.

Learn more NHS leadership programmes: Birmingham Business School leadership programmes:

If you are interested in working with us to develop professional courses for your organisation, please contact us:



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Lessons from a

Nobel Laureate Birmingham welcomed recent Nobel Prize Winner and ‘economist who saves lives’ Al Roth onto campus earlier this year for a guest lecture entitled ‘Who Gets What: the New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design.’

exchange, my colleagues and I have been able to help facilitate living donor kidney transplants in the United States, in a way that is also taking place now here in Britain.’

Roth’s application of economics is enabling creative use of his research – with applications including kidney donation exchange and allocation of students in education.

Ahead of his guest lecture, Professor Roth said that: ‘Birmingham has made some great hires [and] it’s now on the map in experimental economics and the study of markets and behaviour.’

He explains: ‘Matching markets are basically all the markets in which you can’t just choose what you want, but you also have to be chosen, so getting into university for instance is a matching market. One of the things... is kidney

Feedback from the event was very positive with attendees taking to Twitter to discuss the event. Undergraduate Economics student Joshua Tankle said: ‘It enriches the experience of studying Economics for sure...

Nobel Prize Winner Al Roth speaking in the Great Hall

it’s a completely different perspective on the subject... when you hear a Nobel Prize winner in Economics come and speak to you, it really does bring it all together.’

Did you know? Birmingham has eight Nobel Prize winners among its alumni including Biologist Sir Paul Nurse, Pharmacologist Sir John Vane and Chemist Sir Norman Haworth.

Interdisciplinary approach paves the way for holistic research For the first time, experts from a number of different fields are coming together to develop a shared Birmingham and Chicago school approach to understanding regional economies. The Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) has chosen the twinned cities of Birmingham and Chicago as the basis for its analysis, adopting an interdisciplinary approach to create a framework for sustainable economic growth policies. Birmingham Business School’s Professor John Bryson is a project theme leader. He believes existing, single-discipline research techniques don’t go far enough to understand the challenges that face cities undergoing economic regeneration.

the IAS’s research, which will focus on three themes:  Developing a holistic approach to understanding regional economies  How technological developments, such as 3D printing, will revolutionise production and transform the economic geography of regional economies  How education and industry can identify and anticipate the skills needed to ensure a region stays economically competitive ‘The key to this work is to ensure that we are not using different languages or the same language

He says: ‘Although a number of academic disciplines deal with this subject, they largely sit within social sciences and have not incorporated areas such as education or engineering. Our approach is new and has been welcomed by business leaders and policymakers.’ Academics met in April during the first of a series of collaborative workshops to discuss

A shared Birmingham-Chicago approach to regional economies

with different meanings. This can be difficult unless addressed quickly, as academics may not realise that they are actually talking at crosspurposes, which can block debate,’ continues Professor Bryson. Regeneration Economies: Transforming People, Place and Production is the first of the IAS’s two inaugural themes. The second, Saving Humans: Risk, Intervention, Survival, will launch later this year.

Learn more The Institute of Advanced Studies

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Business never sleeps Business School doctoral student Enrico Vanio’s award-winning submission for the University Graduate School ‘Images of Research’ competition. Panyu district, Guangzhou, south of China. A worker tries to rest lying in the middle of packed goods ready to be shipped.

Distinguished Leaders Series comes to Singapore Following the success of the Birmingham Business School (BBS) Distinguished Leaders series we are pleased to announce a complementary lecture series in Singapore in partnership with the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). BBS has run a Global MBA programme in Singapore for the last 18 years and the area has a vibrant and rapidly growing postgraduate and undergraduate alumni community. The founding of the Singapore Distinguished Leaders series demonstrates a deepening of the relationship between the two areas.

The Singapore series will follow the same format as the UK, with high-calibre alumni speakers discussing their views and experiences of leadership. The complementary events will offer an opportunity for alumni, students and academics to gather, network and build stronger links in the area. An inaugural event is taking place this summer; the main lecture programme will begin in November 2013. Alumni based in Asia will receive further details shortly or can find out more at schools/business/alumni/events

Engaging Business Whether you are a large corporate organisation or a small business, you can benefit from world-class expertise at the University of Birmingham. Our services include:  Intellectual property licences – a varied 

portfolio of patents available for licensing Collaborative projects and partnerships – working with you to develop strategic, collaborative partnerships State-of-the-art equipment – utilise our scientific equipment or train members of your team on a particular technique Access to funding – helping you to access funding and find a suitable academic partner Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) – enter a partnership with the University and a high-calibre graduate

 Business accommodation – purpose-

built facilities for companies seeking to work in research, development and training  Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – training your key personnel

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Economics top of the league BSc Economics at Birmingham has been ranked 1st out of the Russell Group – the 24 leading UK universities which are committed to maintaining the very best research, teaching and links with business and the public sector. 91% of our BSc Economics graduates go on to careers in professional or managerial jobs and student satisfaction ratings are at 93%.

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Discussion paper series Birmingham Business School is launching a new discussion paper series to promote the dissemination of research findings to fellow academics, institutions, organisations and other interested parties. This complements the series which already runs within the Department of Economics. Business School series: Economics series: www.birmingham.



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Does a nation have to own its homegrown brands in order for it to feel secure in its sense of identity? Professor Simon Collinson shares his thoughts on national and foreign ownership WITH ‘YOUR NETWORK’.

The takeover of Cadbury by US food giant Kraft created a level of local and national outcry rarely witnessed by the business sector. This very British confectionary business was, in itself, a rare phenomenon – a multi-national company that retained its family-owned roots and philanthropic ties with its local communities. Despite the fact that Cadbury had grown through a series of its own international acquisitions, the idea that this much-loved brand could fall into foreign ‘clutches’ was inconceivable to many. ‘Cadbury was so highly regarded,’ said Sir Dominic Cadbury, Chancellor of the University of Birmingham and former Chairman of Cadbury-Schweppes. ‘People loved its products and admired its history, pioneering spirit and its progressive social and employment ethos – they questioned whether an incoming US company would ever uphold those values, particularly at a grassroots level.’ Despite these concerns, the takeover went ahead in 2010. In the short period since, Kraft has split itself into two companies (the confectionary business of Kraft became Mondelēz International, of which Cadbury

by foreign companies. Questions have arisen in recent years over how much of UK Plc is actually owned by foreign companies and whether, when we relinquish national ownership, we lose much more than value and dividends. Britain is one of the world’s most open economies and a preferred destination for foreign investors – over 40 per cent of its listed companies are owned by foreign shareholders and this high level of investment brings tremendous benefits to the UK on a national level. Professor Simon Collinson, Dean of Birmingham Business School, believes foreign ownership is largely positive. He explains: ‘Foreign investment has resulted in a lot of inward and outward investment, and has made the UK much more agile and competitive. A lack of foreign ownership would have a negative effect, making our firms less competitive, more complacent and insular.’

‘A lack of foreign ownership would have a negative effect, making our firms less competitive, more complacent and insular.’ Does the nation necessarily feel a pang every time a homegrown company is sold to, or merged with, an international business? No, and there are plenty of household brands boasting a strong British identity that are successfully owned by foreign businesses.

is a subsidiary). This move means we may never know the true financial impact of the acquisition, but it is generally considered to be a negative acquisition and appears to have added little value. It also left a bad taste in the mouths of many people and lingering concern over approaches

Companies such as BAA, Jaguar, Land Rover and Pilkington, and football clubs including Liverpool and Chelsea, have been acquired with little public dissent. Professor Collinson believes the concerns arise over the type of ownership in question. ‘There are different forms of ownership – foreign companies can take a position as a joint venture, set up as a greenfield investment in the UK or,

more aggressively, they can enter into a merger or acquisition, and I think it is the latter that probably triggers the most emotional response from the public. ‘This is particularly true when a company has built a community around itself. When these – usually older – companies are bought up, you lose that identity, community engagement and the rapport that has been built up with employees. When Nanjing Automotive brought MG Rover, it moved pretty much all the company overseas to China and there was a large loss of jobs and loss of connection with the community. ‘Conversely, Tetley was bought by the tea division of India-based Tata in 2004. Very few complained about the loss of a British brand and, because Tata bought Tetley as it wanted the latter to buy tea from the supply chain in India, it had very little intervention in Tetley’s operations. The acquisition went under the radar, despite people’s emotional attachment to the brand.’ One sector in which foreign ownership has made a positive difference is manufacturing. Professor Collinson continues: ‘This sector


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THE ONUS ON OWNER SHIP is increasingly foreign owned. Not many people are aware that this has resulted in stabilised employment in manufacturing and increased output. The benefits also have a knock-on effect to UK supply chains. ‘I think one of the biggest positives is being part of global value chains. The UK is very well placed as a centre for R&D, the higher end of manufacturing and services. As developing countries get better at this, we are in a good position to maintain our stance in high-end manufacturing, but we can only do this by being engaged with companies from those countries.’

Did you know? This issue was debated by a panel of experts earlier this year at Birmingham Business School. Find out more online at www.

The negatives come when a company buys into a UK firm, strips its assets and cuts or moves its resources overseas. Not only has UK control of that company disappeared, so too have jobs, technology and possibly a key regional player. Obviously, profit is the key driver in all types of ownership. As an acquisitor, the UK owns roughly the same volume of overseas assets ($1.3 trillion) as those sold to foreign investors and, in general, UK businesses tend to view firms as profit-making enterprises, where performance and competitiveness dominate shareholder-related goals. The City can play a major role in driving this thirst for profit. Acquisitions can be driven by the City and the financial services industry for short-term gain on share or dividend yield. This means that they can focus on short-term uplift in profit but ignore the long-term value that can be added.

Professor Collinson continues: ‘It is then too easy to lose sight of the long-term, value-added benefits of that acquisition, which was particularly true in the case of the Kraft takeover of Cadbury.

‘Whoever owns a business – whether a UK or foreign firm – should be looking to add value to that business.’ ‘Whoever owns a business – whether a UK or foreign firm – should be looking to add value to that business. For me, that means a move towards stakeholder capitalism where, for example, more emphasis is placed on the people and communities affected, rather than a purely profit-driven, short-termism shareholder approach.’


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IDEAS WATCH From SME mentoring and financial health in the second city to investigations into worldwide knowledge transfer and global supply chains, find out more about Birmingham Business School research that’s making an impact.


the financial crisis Academics within Birmingham Business School are exploring the design and impact of proposed new taxes on banks in light of the world financial crisis. The focus is on the development of a bank taxation regime that will contain the risk of a recurrence of a major financial crisis, how much implicit insurance of big banks the taxpayer can reasonably be expected to provide and how much bank shareholders and customers need to be involved in the reduction of risk. This is one of three workstreams being explored by the ‘Responsibilities, ethics and the financial crisis’ project, based at Birmingham and Warwick universities. It is looking at the underlying ethical issues raised by the financial crisis; how people and organisations are and should be held to account. The project addresses the question of which institutions are responsible; and the question of whether individuals, including ordinary consumers and sub-prime borrowers, are also partly to blame. Another stream of work is looking at payday loans and affordable credit providers and asking if the current systems in the UK are responsible. This involves analysis of international case studies and looking at best practice in the industry worldwide, including capping interest rates and banning advertising. The findings of the three-year project will be used to lobby government for policy change.

The impact of 3D printing on

manufacturing Professor John Bryson from the Department of Management is working with American colleagues to analyse the current state of manufacturing in British industry, including the major impact 3D printing will have on markets and economies. An explosion in 3D printing technology will take place over the next few years with consumers able to design or download products and print them using relatively inexpensive equipment. ‘This changes global marketplaces enormously’, says Professor Bryson. ‘The rise of home-based manufacturing will transform the ways goods and services are delivered and will contribute to the new industrial revolution that we expect to see over the next ten years.’ At the moment, the technology involved is basic, but 3D printing is already being integrated into manufacturing. As techniques and equipment develop, it will mean lighter, more complicated items can be produced quickly and efficiently. John’s research is exploring what these changes will mean, especially in the global manufacturing industry, and how organisations can respond to this new environment. He explains: ’Existing thinking on economies is all last century. The work that we are doing will help to understand how regional economies make and lose money in our rapidly changing world.’

Enterprising research into mentoring Professor Kiran Trehan in the Department of Management is researching ways of facilitating enterprise and leadership for businesses in the UK. Her work is showing that peer-to-peer business networking and mentoring is most productive, and beneficial, when it is not temporary but is based on long-term relationships built through developing a deep understanding of each other’s businesses. Successful mentoring models include peer-to-peer business mentoring between small and medium sized firms (SMEs), larger corporates mentoring smaller firms and senior employees of banks working with minority ethnic businesses. The value these networks provide includes enabling SMEs to develop new markets and take planned risks, be more adventurous, and strategically plan and invest in the future. They are of particular relevance for businesses from a wide range of ethnic minority communities who suffer from weak access to support networks and mentoring. These tools are also relevant for both new business start-ups and for supporting growth-oriented businesses. Vince Farquharson of Turbo Windscreens, one of the companies taking part in mentoring says: ‘The experience... it’s turned me from an insular individual and has opened me up to share my business ideas, helped me to take advice, learn from others and challenge my opinions.’

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Learn more @FinCris1 The project is part of CHASM, The Centre on Household Savings Management, which sits jointly within BBS and the School of Social Policy ias/inaugural-themes/regenerationeconomies

See how your organisation might benefit by contacting:

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Outsourcing knowledge in research

and development Dr Paulina Ramirez is looking at the outsourcing and globalisation of R&D in the pharmaceutical industry and how knowledge flows in this new way of working. ‘Since 2000, we have seen a developing trend in the outsourcing of research to contract research organisations’ explains Dr Ramirez, ‘and the results of this are interesting new business models where firms are relying on external organisations to deliver a core part of their business.’ Dr Ramirez interviewed senior managers in pharmaceutical companies with strategic responsibilities to understand what was driving their decision making and what dangers they could see in outsourcing intrinsic parts of their business. Her research also followed several contract research organisations and the ways they approached knowledge transfer and expertise. She continues: ‘One interesting outcome is the impact it has on the workforce of specific countries. When pharmaceutical firms move work abroad, we see high-tech knowledgeintensive processes outsourced to specific parts of the world – largely to areas like Boston and San Francisco in the USA and Cambridge in the UK. At the same time, much of the routine, less skilled work is going to China and India. ‘So this move is affecting the knowledge-base of multiple countries as particular jobs and training leave Europe and are transferred to other parts of the world.’ For pharmaceutical firms, there many benefits to outsourcing including the ability to ‘buy back’ expertise at flexible rates and without needing to recruit and train personnel. However, Dr Ramirez is now looking at whether this will diminish quality over time.

Learn more business/ramirez-paulina.aspx

Evaluating High-value finances in the Second City

The new administration of Birmingham City Council turned to Birmingham Business School and The Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) late last year to give an independent evaluation of their financial health. With increasing fiscal pressures on UK local authorities, academics were asked to review the Council’s finances from a neutral standpoint. With local authorities in the UK dependent on funding from central government – a rapidly decreasing commodity – the review showed that new strategies would need to be employed for the future and that cutting budgets bit by bit could only work for so long. ‘Birmingham has a Council Tax rate lower than most big cities combined with a lower base for tax generation’, explains Professor of Accounting Ron Hodges, who undertook the research with Catherine Staite and Peter Watt of INLOGOV. ‘Birmingham City Council has done a good job so far in making reductions in all areas, but this will not be sufficient to cope with further cuts in funding in the longer term.’ Catherine Staite comments: ‘It’s essential that they now look at prioritising outcomes rather than services. This will lead to new ways of working and the decommissioning of some services.’ The report also gave guidance on how the authority could begin to talk to stakeholders and offered suggestions for ways that budget reductions could be achieved. The overall findings will be applicable to many local authorities, offering evidence that new direct approaches will need to be taken to secure council finances for the future.

engineering takes on

a global focus Research teams from across Europe and China are working together to raise awareness of the importance of high-value engineering (HVE) and the need to create and support collaborative research opportunities in this area. HVE is made up of a number of disciplines, including technology management, collaborative innovation, engineering design, service sciences, supply chain management, industrial sustainability, and advanced manufacturing technologies, such as nanotechnology, 3D printing and composite materials. The research teams, which are drawn from several institutions, are studying the entire engineering value chain, from research, design, development and production, to delivery, service, support, recycling and disposal. Their findings will enable engineering businesses to make the most of networks promoting further research opportunities and realise long-term, sustainable engineering capabilities. BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace are among the organisations that have opened their doors to the UK-based research teams, allowing the academics access to their engineering operations and employees. Birmingham’s Dr Yufeng Zhang co-ordinates the research teams. He says: ‘These organisations have welcomed the chance to collaborate with us and they, in turn, make a huge, positive difference to our research. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to see the HVE chain in practice and, therefore, develop opportunities that work for them.’

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The recent horsemeat scandal in the UK highlighted grave issues around supplier compliance. So how can businesses ensure that complex supply chains hold up under scrutiny? WE examine the issues WITH Dr Pamela Robinson

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Until recently, it was highly probable that few Brits had ever given much thought to their ‘relationship’ with horses and certainly wouldn’t have viewed them as a tasty snack. However, this changed earlier this year when horsemeat was found in a number of processed beef products. The problem first came to light in January, when food inspectors in the Republic of Ireland announced that they had found horsemeat in beefburgers made by UK and Irish firms and sold by UK retailers including Tesco, Aldi, Iceland and Lidl. In the weeks that followed, a number of European retailers and manufacturers recalled a selection of beef products, after tests for horse DNA came back positive. UK hotel chains and catering companies revealed that they too had been affected. To date, contaminated products have been found in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway and Sweden. But how did such a scandal happen and how did it become so widespread? Dr Pamela Robinson, of Birmingham Business School, spent 21 years in the retail sector as a buyer and consultant. An expert in global business ethics, she believes the problem stemmed from supply chain issues. In their ongoing efforts to stay competitive in today’s multi-channel retail environment, major retailers such as supermarket chains seek to entice consumers by offering a staggering range of product lines.

‘...retailers have difficulty in always knowing what’s going on upstream in their supply chains. How do they check that what has been agreed to contractually is being adhered to?’ In one example, Dr Robinson highlighted a retailer that had more than 130,000 supply chains, which they relied upon to source products from. These are supply routes that span the globe and food standards and systems of ‘due diligence’ have to be maintained across many national borders. However, it can be impossible for retailers to ensure the right checks are taking place.

Dr Robinson says: ‘Most of us are aware that due to globalisation and developments that companies are not always sourcing products locally. That means that retailers have difficulty in always knowing what’s going on upstream in their supply chains. How do they check that what has been agreed to contractually is being adhered to? ‘Retail supply chains are complex and retailers are aware that sometimes they may well find rogue behaviour in the chains they depend on. In this instance, companies were sourcing ingredients and raw materials from countries that don’t necessarily adhere to the same strict food standards. That creates the potential for problems. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link – and here we saw a criminal element spot that weak link and capitalise on the opportunity to commit fraud.’ With pressure on retailers to keep food prices down, it came as little surprise that this passing off of horsemeat as beef occurred in a ‘budget’ product category where prices are kept low.

‘But were companies knowingly cutting corners during the horsemeat controversy?’ Dr Robinson continues: ‘Inflation is key to controlling the economy and government puts a lot of pressure on food retailers to keep food prices down and standards high. ‘Another of the complaints often heard from producers, farmers and their representative bodies is that retailers hold prices at a certain point where it becomes a struggle to produce and supply. If the cost of fuel, feed or equipment increases, the producer can’t pass those costs on to the retailer because the latter will not accept them. ‘But were companies knowingly cutting corners during the horsemeat controversy? I very much doubt it – they wouldn’t put their business or the relationship with their customer, aka the retailer, in such danger.’

Did you know? Dr Robinson spoke to national and international media during the reporting of the horsemeat scandal

So, how can we ensure that such a scandal never happens again? Dr Robinson believes that we may see some companies reintegrate the very supply chains they outsourced to gain a competitive advantage in the first place. However, in doing so, they must find the resources to manage and monitor the supply chain internally and they may lose the economies of scale that outsourcing provided. ‘It’s a difficult balance’, says Dr Robinson. ‘Retailers have to find a margin, maintain price points and the bottom line, while continuing to delight their shareholders and consumers. We may see the retail price increase for that particular range of budget, frozen products.’ Elsewhere, they can look to developing open, long-term relationships with trusted suppliers. ‘There will always be tension in the retailer– supplier relationship, but, ultimately, both parties have the same interest. During the horsemeat scandal, it was interesting to see unaffected companies talking positively about the long-term partnerships they have with their suppliers.’ So should retailers now ‘play it safe’ with the suppliers they do business with? Dr Robinson suggests: ‘Retailers must protect their brand and reputation, so they could easily walk away from a problematic supplier in a developing country, but they may be criticised for doing so by a number of their key stakeholders, including consumers and civil society groups. There needs to be closer working relationships between businesses in established and emerging economies to ensure that they work through issues. ‘The EU is very strict and, sometimes, developing economies criticise their standards as non-economic trade barriers. They want to honour the standards but they do not have the resources as yet to do that.’ It has taken some months for the horsemeat media furore and consumer discontent to die down, but have retailers learned their lesson? ‘Retailers have held themselves accountable for this issue but they should realise that, just because the headlines have gone away, there are others who will continue to watch them, there are many societal actors that observe their every move.’



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University brings billion pound boost to Birmingham’s economy

How the MBA got inside the business leader’s brain

The University of Birmingham contributes more than £1 billion to the West Midlands economy annually and supports almost 12,000 jobs, according to research by Oxford Economics.

Birmingham MBA students have been given unprecedented access to some of the UK’s best business minds and the results provide fascinating insights into how those leaders perceive organisational challenges.

The report, which measured the economic impact of the University on the city of Birmingham and the West Midlands region during the 2011–12 academic year, found that the financial benefits of the University on the region was almost double the combined value-added economic impact of the eight largest football clubs in the region. The research also found that the University contributed £898 million to the city, supporting 9,640 jobs, which is equivalent to one job in every 50 in Birmingham. The study shows that the University of Birmingham:  Generated £1.072 billion of spending in the West Midlands economy in the 2011–12 academic year  Made a value-added contribution of £530 million to the region’s economy  Is a net importer of talent to the region  Acts as an international gateway to the city attracting overseas students, visitors and spending  Attracted £145.5 million research funding in 2011–12 , 87% of the research income received by all Birmingham Higher Education Institutions and 12% of the region’s total R&D spend

Working with the guidance of sponsor company, management consultancy One Point Three Limited over a period of four years, Birmingham MBA students held structured one-to-one interviews with over 120 senior directors and chief executives, as part of their MBA dissertation work.

Severn Trent Water, Associated British Foods (Primark) and Birmingham City Council was incredible. One Point Three supported me throughout the research and the project made a real difference to my MBA.’

The research has been distilled into a Public Intellectual Report, called ‘What the business leader said to the MBA’, which reveals how important business culture is to many chief executives and how much of a difference it makes. Insights drawn from the work are now used by One Point Three in their consulting work. The leaders believe that creating the right organisational culture is key to success and, although it can be difficult to achieve, the solution does not need to be complex or time consuming. Their insights challenge the conventional wisdom that change has to be a long, slow process. Sakthi Sethu, who took part in the research, found the experience invaluable. He says: ‘Having the opportunity to get in front of the CEOs of organisations like Lloyds TSB,

One Point Three was originally based in Stratford-upon-Avon, but relocated to Birmingham in 2012. The move brought the consultancy closer to the Business School, helping both parties to foster the already strong ties they have shared over the last six years.

Learn more our-economic-impact.aspx

Andrew Wells, Director of One Point Three, says: ‘We have always been impressed by the high calibre of Birmingham MBAs. The individuals who worked with us did a great job. ‘We have shared the report widely and we are particularly pleased that it is giving many business leaders cause to reflect about their own culture and the advantage it gives them.’

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Boots boosts student employability Final-year Business Management student Kathryn Payman is celebrating a bright future having gained employment on the Boots International Graduate Scheme which launched this year. Boots International, which manages the large pharmaceutical chain’s multiple operations overseas, opted to only promote the scheme at Birmingham Business School, exclusively targeting our BSc Business Management finalists. Erica Sparkes, Learning and Development Manager for Boots International, says: ’Boots International recognises the quality of students on the BSc Business Management programmes at Birmingham, and we are particularly drawn to the international syllabus

of the degree. Our programme offers... an international career with a world-leading brand spanning 19 countries worldwide including the USA, Thailand and the Middle East.’ Kathryn says: ‘I’m really excited to be the first person ever to go through on this Scheme, and having the chance to work on Boots’ international strategy which is what really differentiates it from their national scheme. And of course it’s just so encouraging that they only promoted it to students on my degree!’ Professor Simon Collinson, Dean of Birmingham Business School adds: ‘In a period of economic uncertainty, it’s vital that students can be confident that their degree is attractive

to employers. Boots International’s decision to target our Business Management degree proves just that, and they join a growing number of employers to be working with us in this way.’ This latest boost to employment for business students follows the launch of the Birmingham Business School KPMG Accountancy degree in 2012, along with a growing number of exclusive training and internship arrangements with a cross-section of employers including Capgemini and The Moth, New York. If you would like to find out more about offering opportunities to our students, see the ‘Learn more’ box below.

Kathryn Payman: Q&A What is your degree? BSc International Business, which involves a year abroad. I spent mine at a University in Madrid, where I learnt Spanish. It was a fantastic year. Why did you apply to the Boots scheme? It was exciting to hear that this was a brand new scheme, with a hugely well known company, open just to students on my degree. I felt that my experience working overseas fit with what they were asking for because this was clearly important to them. In terms of working in international business, they want to be sure that I will be able to adapt to different environments easily. And the role sounded so interesting – the chance to work for an international company that’s expanding, allowing me to put what I’ve learnt here into practice. Is your course directly applicable to the scheme you’ll be working on? Well obviously the year abroad was a major factor in terms of my eligibility, but even in the application process they asked questions about overseas expansion, and that’s something that we cover on the degree in various interlinking modules, so what I’ve learnt is definitely relevant to what I’m going to be doing.

What will you be doing? It’s a rotating graduate scheme, so I’ll get the chance to work in lots of different departments. I start in Marketing and then move round into sales, PR, and Human Resources. The plan is that I will then go and work overseas at some point after Christmas; most likely Hong Kong or America which are both in major growth phases at the moment. Business Management student, Kathryn Payman

What are you most looking forward to? Working for a large company, finding out what that’s like, putting the skills I’ve learnt here into practice, and of course getting to work in different offices overseas during my time there. Would you recommend this to other students and/or businesses that are interested in working with graduates? Why? Everything I’ve experienced so far would make me recommend this. It’s great that it’s exclusive for Birmingham Business School students because it makes your chance of being successful much higher. Also I have found the team at Boots International to be hugely motivated, friendly and supportive and I can really see myself working well with them.

Learn more Let us put you in touch with our brightest talent. Student projects, consultancy modules and internships, and graduate training schemes are a fantastic opportunity to get market research or business strategy intelligence into your business or fill a gap in your staffing. We welcome enquiries from international and UK businesses. Email: Tel: +44 (0)121 415 8437



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The key to success With a career comprising influential positions in businesses including Coca-Cola, Vodafone and O2, alumnus Matthew Key (BA Economics, 1984) is now CEO of Telefónica Digital, the innovation arm of one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. Here, he talks about how University prepared him for the fast-paced world of digital technology. There were two reasons I chose to study at Birmingham. Firstly, I liked the breadth of the Economics course and, secondly, I was a sprinter and 110-metre hurdler at the time and the University had an excellent sporting reputation. I look back fondly on those years, which is why I’m happy to contribute to the University wherever I can. I still go back to the campus to take part in guest lectures and fundraising events and, although I think it’s a fantastic place to study, I see how competitive it is these days. Business is always a good subject to study but I know how tough it is for graduates now to get on the career ladder. However, effective business study requires a course that’s responsive to changes the digital age brings. A course that doesn’t take into account the impact of digital and mobile technology and the increasingly international nature of business will quickly become redundant. I consider myself very lucky to have had a career that developed beyond my wildest dreams. I’d like to say it was all due to making inspired decisions, but I’ve taken some risks that have paid off.

True, risk can sometimes lead to failure, but it’s important to fail. If you fail, do it fast and learn quickly from the experience. But if you succeed, accelerate what you’re doing and invest.

‘ technology has the power to change business, and society, in so many ways.’ Digital technology has meant that never before in the history of Mankind has an individual had the capability to impact so many people’s lives so quickly. When I’m deciding which solutions are the ones to support, I need to make decisions based on fact, instinct and insight. Fortunately, the digital world moves so quickly that you can access customer feedback and take-up almost immediately, which enables you to make fast, insightful decisions. The speed of change that can be achieved is mind-boggling and digital technology has the power to change business, and society, in so many ways.

Graduation day, July 1984

Take Latin America, for instance, where 60 per cent of people don’t have bank accounts, but 100 per cent have mobile phones. This makes the potential for mobile technology incredible and within Telefónica Digital we are at the forefront of unlocking this potential. The world has never seen a period like this before.

‘...signing the exclusive O2 two-year contact with iPhone. That was an amazing win and it changed the mobile phone industry forever.’ Moving from heading up Telefónica Europe, the parent company of O2, to setting up Digital from scratch has been one of my career highlights. It was a risk, but then again, so too was leaving Vodafone to go to O2. Back then, O2 (or BT Cellnet as it was called then) wasn’t well known, but within five years, we had reinvented the brand and become the market leader. Telefónica’s acquisition of O2 in 2005 (then the largest cash deal in Europe) was a huge vindication of the steps we’d taken to turn around the business. O2 played a big role in my career and brought about two of my other career highlights; namely, taking the decision to turn the Millennium Dome into The O2, which is now the world’s most visited indoor venue, and signing the exclusive O2 two-year contact with iPhone. That was an amazing win and it changed the mobile phone industry forever. I continue to love my work and that’s so important. If you’re unsure of what direction to take, follow your passion – when you’re doing something you enjoy, you’ll always do it better.

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Alumni engagement Birmingham Business School alumni gave over 450 hours of their time and expertise to the University last year, helping to support their school and directly helping students. Here are a few of the ways you have been getting involved. Guest lectures


Our 2012–13 Distinguished Leaders Series featured high-profile alumni discussing the qualities of a great leader. Speakers included Mike Coupe, Group Commercial Director, Sainsbury’s; Sarah Cox, Head of Business Planning, London 2012 Olympic Organising Committee and Nick Humby, Chief Finance Director, Lawn Tennis Association.

Alumni mentors can help students shape their future career paths by sharing their knowledge and helping them develop business relationships and networks.

Alumni have also given their time and shared their expertise delivering lectures, seminars and round-table discussions.

‘ opportunity to share my experiences... in a way that they [students] can translate back into their own personal career experiences.’ Douglas Johnson-Poensgen, Managing Director, Barclays to You (BEng Civil Engineering, 1991)

Alumni ambassadors Our international alumni ambassadors offer advice to prospective students on living and studying at Birmingham.

‘As an alumni ambassador from your region you develop a special connection with prospective students because of the culture, language and expectations you share with them.’

‘I helped my mentee frame his skills and experience in a way that would be useful for employers, and shared my knowledge and experience.’ M. Ilyas Malek, Economic Adviser, UK Department for International Development (BSc Mathematical Economics, 2004; MSc Public Economic Management, 2005)

Supporting new and prospective students Input from alumni is invaluable during open days, applicant visit days, induction sessions and careers talks.

‘When I was researching universities I wish there had been someone available to seek advice from. I feel it’s my duty to help fill that role for current students!’ Grace Surman (BSc Business Management with Communications, 2008)

Catalina Lince (MBA International Business, 2011)

Offering projects and placements

Career profiles

Offering internships, projects or consultancy opportunities are great ways to get market research or business strategy intelligence into your business.

Our current and prospective students are inspired by the success of our alumni. Share your personal experiences of how you have shaped your career post-graduation.

‘’s a great opportunity to be included.’

‘The internship was an overwhelming success. As a result, we are planning to continue the programme.’ Sarah Fahy, Vice President, Global Tax Office Europe, Sony (BCom Industrial Economics and Business Studies, 1986)

Henry Raschen, HSBC Securities Services (BCom Commerce, 1980)

Get involved If you would like to get involved or you are interested in learning more: or


What alumni want In late 2011, we surveyed all Business School alumni to find out what you wanted from your school alumni relations team. Did you want us to help you keep in touch with old friends, assist in making new professional connections or help you access research and expertise from within the University to help you do business? Thank you to everyone that responded. We had lots of interesting ideas, some of which we are already implementing, and some that we will be looking at in the next 12 months. As always, we’ll keep you informed along the way, but here are a few examples of where we have already taken your feedback on board.

You want speaker events delivered by experienced industry professionals

We now have over 1,000 members of our LinkedIn and Facebook groups and a growing community on Twitter, helping you to stay connected. Make sure you’re involved. LinkedIn: BBS Alumni Office Facebook: bbsalumni Twitter: @BBSalumniUoB

Our Distinguished Leaders Series features high-profile leaders from a range of industries across the world, reflecting on their personal journey and discussing the qualities of a great leader.

You want expert commentary on business news

Your Network magazine contains more research and business application than ever before, and our Birmingham Briefs and regular Perspectives get to the heart of current issues. And if there are hot topics that you want comment on, let us know.

These lectures have attracted leaders from top companies including Barclays, Sainsbury’s, The Lawn Tennis Association, London 2012 Olympic Organising Committee and more. We’ve also welcomed professionals and academics including Nobel Prize winning economist Al Roth back to campus to give guest lectures. Look out for our 2013–14 events in our termly ‘You’re Invited’ email which gives a round up of Business School and wider University events or visit www.birmingham.

You want more international events

We will be expanding our programme of international events over the next 12 months with an exciting speaker series in Singapore and more international social and networking opportunities. business/alumni/events

You want regular updates across all Birmingham Business School programmes

We have begun to implement a wider alumni relations programme across our undergraduate, postgraduate and MBA programmes. Look out for more opportunities coming soon.

Share your views for a chance to win We would love to know what you think of this issue of Your Network. Complete our readership survey at to be in with a chance of winning a £25 voucher or share your thoughts at, call +44 (0)121 414 6482 or on Facebook, bbsalumni.

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Birmingham Business School's Alumni Newsletter 2013.