As a lecturer, nothing gives you more pleasure than to see your students shine. On Monday 19th March I could not have been prouder of our students, as we welcomed honorary doctor of Staffordshire University, Sarah Willingham to the Business School, as one of the judges of our Willingham’s Winners competition. Sarah has a string of accolades for her contributions to business and in 2016 was named one of the Sunday Times 500 most influential people in Britain. She is probably best known for her appearance on Dragon’s Den, but there is nothing dragon-like about her – a “Stokie” born and bred, Sarah is down-to-earth, full of good advice and a business role model for students.
Six teams were shortlisted to present their business ideas in the finals, pitching to a panel of four judges; Sarah Willingham, Ben Dyer from the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge, Mark Blackhurst CEO of DigitalNext and Professor Liz Boath from the School of Social Work, Allied and Public Health. The panel commended all students on the professionalism of their pitches, giving constructive feedback to support student development.
Following an enlightening conversation and Q&A session with Professor Rune By, Sarah announced the winners of the competition as Crafted. The winning team presented a business idea described by Sarah as “absolutely on trend”, with a flawless, professional pitch, offering a range of delicious cakes catering for the health and wellbeing needs of people with gluten intolerance.
It is not often that undergraduates have the opportunity to gain the advice of such an influential panel of judges and despite nerves, I’m proud to say that all the finalist teams represented Staffordshire Business School superbly – they most definitely did shine.
Angela Lawrence, Senior Lecturer
Staffordshire Business School