Empty Nest? Yes please!

Storm Barratt, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

The world has turned upside down but for any University, it isn’t too soon to be thinking about a return to “normal” (in whatever guise that may be) and the young students who are (hopefully) excited to leave home, albeit temporarily, and join us for the new academic year come September. Many of our thoughts are not only about the academic guidance we shall be giving but also the extra-curricular support to help these young people transition from school children to University student.

But what about the Mums (and Dads and others) who are left behind feeling bereft at their child moving on without them?

The dreaded “Empty Nest” Syndrome.

This is a very real occurrence for many and whilst I would not want to make light of it, the following is a slightly irreverent piece I wrote when my boys moved out. Was I worried and anxious? Of course. Upset and tearful? For a while. Then, over time, sanity was restored, and a delicious feeling of freedom began to creep my way.

It was picking up yet another soggy towel from the bathroom floor that tipped me over the edge. That and looking forward to a biscuit with my cup of tea when, surprise! No biscuits. ‘That’s it!’ I shrieked to my husband, ‘It’s high time they moved out’. He raised one cynical eyebrow and replied: ‘You don’t mean that; look what happened last time’.

Three years ago, both of my children left home at the same time – one to work in America, the other to his first year at university. Suddenly after 22 years of nurturing, cherishing, catering for their every need and generally interfering, my life changed in an instant with a simple, ‘Bye Mom’ and a slam of the front door.

I remember how I felt. The first few weeks I was miserable; I couldn’t concentrate, thinking about all the bad things that would befall them in their new lives. They were obviously drawn into an underworld of sex, drugs and rock and roll. My imagination ran riot and I would lie awake at night in a hot sweat as I imagined the worst, a small voice in my head whispering over and over, ‘Come back boys, all is forgiven’.

A friend of mine was so distraught when her last child moved out, she felt compelled to invite foreign students from the local university to dinner on a regular basis, then to lunch as well and before her husband knew where he was, whole weekends. He eventually put his foot down when she invited two of her new-found “family” on holiday. An amusing tale but with serious undertones. Lynn simply could not cope with not being needed. Any mother knows that the first few weeks without their children, when they first leave home can be quite traumatic.

Empty Nest Syndrome is well documented with some women falling into a deep depression, no longer a full-time mum but not quite knowing who they are.

I’d heard of the empty nest syndrome. ‘Empty Nest?’ I’d scoffed. ‘What rubbish’. Personally, I couldn’t wait for the boys to leave. I would be able to reclaim some “me time”. I would be able to do all those things that had been put on hold while the children were growing up. I would be able to please myself about what time I went out and came home, instead of creeping in at midnight to find one of them sitting on the settee, tapping his watch and saying, ‘What time do you call this?’ (Erm, who is the parent here?)

Over the past 25 years, I had been the consummate mother, taking care of my boys’ every need. Taxi, cook, chambermaid, interfering mother, you name it, I was at their beck and call (mind you, also at the beck and call of the husband but that’s a whole other issue!), and I thoroughly enjoyed it most of the time. But three years ago, both of my children left home at the same time, albeit temporarily. One to work in America, the other to his first year at university.

I wasn’t prepared for the feelings of sadness when my boys moved out. The advice dished out by well-meaning friends was that I take up a new hobby to fill my time and give me something else to think about. Distraction therapy, I think it’s called. But I didn’t want to be distracted. I didn’t want to think about anything else. I wanted my boys back – I liked my children at home.

We would come back after a night out to a dark house and eerily quiet – when they lived at home, they would leave all of the lights on even if they went out. The neighbours nicknamed our house “The Lighthouse”. We didn’t trip over the sports bags or numerous pairs of shoes in the hallway. There were no dirty pots strewn around and the kitchen looked just how I had left it. All very peculiar.

Gradually, as the weeks passed, the feelings of sadness began to subside and I noticed that, actually, there were quite a few positives now that the boys weren’t there. Not least the dramatic reduction in our electricity, food and petrol bills. I’d stopped thinking for four people and could concentrate on me and my husband. Biscuits stayed in the tin; towels were not found on the bathroom floor. A sense of freedom had returned. Admittedly I had lost my way a bit, but the peace and quiet afforded me the time to sit and think about me and my needs. My husband and I could do what we wanted to do without restriction. For the first time in 25 years, I could put ME first without the guilt trip.

I was getting used to all of this, when, just like a boomerang, they came back. You would have thought my prayers had been answered, but these were not my babies anymore. These were young, independent adults, with their own opinions, ideas and ways of doing things. Admittedly, it was nice to have them around, but it was encroaching on my new way of life. I gradually found myself sliding back into the role of chief cook and bottle washer, laundry maid and housekeeper. And, do you know, I didn’t like it very much.

So, just as the pain of childbirth has long been erased from my memory, so have the feelings of sadness at being initially separated from my children. So here we are, all together again, one big happy family but boy, am I counting the days….. Selfish? Definitely. Guilty? Definitely not. Empty Nest? Bring it on…biscuit anyone?

Recent changes in the Google’s algorithm can affect your page ranking and sales

Paul Dobson, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

According to a number of reports Google has implemented a substantial search engine algorithm update in January, plus a number of smaller ones in February 2020 … But what does this mean for businesses?

The Google search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs) and we’ve seen these changes have a direct impact on the Google Analytics results and effectiveness of the customer journey to gain sales for businesses. An example of this, is the page ranking has changed to be more themed based.  However, there are ways for businesses to enable their website to be high up in the SERP. These include :-

1.  Snippets Dominate More Search Clicks

Google has changed over recent years with the aim to deliver better search results for the reader, examples include providing the answers through featured Snippets which appear above the organic results. For example, I’ve search “how to walk in snow”

For your website to take advantage of this, you need to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions in your website area of interest. These featured Snippets are evaluated and boosted to the top depending on their quality, with the results that 54.68% of clicks from Google come from featured Snippets. There are various ways to create featured snippet at the top of the page but the key ways include :-

  • Create something better than the current Answer Card / Provide updated information, and Google will prioritise this ‘Freshness’
  • Take the most frequent People Also Asked questions, listed in the Google search, and create content to match*
  • Focus on the most frequently asked types of questions: “How”, “Is” and “Why”

2. Keywords no longer work

Trying to pack key words into landing pages is no longer effective.  Google is using more natural language and wants to independently rank websites and use them as quality data sources.  Your website needs to be written as a natural language rather than trying to pack key words at the top, and consider the long key words that readers may use to find your website.  In addition, you need to consider your website as an overall themed area rather than a mixture of items or topics, for example if you’re selling car parts do not include information blogs on other areas such as toys, or if you do include other areas setup robot.txt and sitemap.xml so that Google does not to index them and get confused. 

3. Mobile User Experience (UX) affects your ranking and Sales.

On some of the websites that we use for student demonstrations of Customer Experience, (CX) User Experience (UX) and Google Analytics (for example https://aubergedechabanettes.com/ ) we can see up to 80% of the hits to the websites are from smart-mobiles in some weeks. A website that is not mobile compatible will lose customers especially as mobile access is a growing trend. How people find information using their mobile devices is also getting more advanced, so your website must be easy to read, grab people’s attention and then can answer their questions or keep them entertained.   If you own a business based at a property such as a Hotel, Restaurant, Bar and Beauty Salon, local SEO is vitally important. Studies show that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines using their mobile devices. Google now allows customers, at a click of a button, to navigate to you, call you or even book directly. 

4. Websites Optimize for Voice Search such and Alexa and OK Google

With the growing use of mobile devices and home devices, voice searches are becoming an increasing trend. These searches are not only done on phones, but they can also be performed on home voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Voice Pod, etc.

Questions asked via voice instead of entering search queries are going to make short choppy keywords less relevant and therefore search terms have become more conversational and targeted. This increasing use of voice searches has already had an impact of Google’s algorithms and Artificial Intelligence systems since the search engine needs to do more work to get the relevant information that the user is looking for.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the way forward.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important technology behind Google to deliver better search results to its users to create personalized experiences for consumers.  The AI has been learning the characteristics of what makes websites of high quality or not, then classifies these web pages and determines their rankings.  Therefore, high-quality content is essential for effective SEO strategies. Users want content that is relevant, helpful, and timely, so Google tends to place websites with consistently themed high-quality content with higher search engine rankings.

If you’d like to know more about becoming an expert in using data driven strategies to lead businesses to success including how to use data to analyse, design and test elaborate customer experience systems in the customer journey to optimise growth, plus learning to work in development environments for Fitbit, Alexa and Google home and mobile devices/smartwatches/ smart home devices as well developing using cloud computing, have a look at our MSc in Customer and Data Analytics.

Author :-

Paul Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School in Digital and Strategic Marketing. He is actively involved in supporting local and EU charities and businesses especially hospitality businesses such as hotels and restaurants. Further details can be seen at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/

Can technology fix your supply chain?

Marzena Reszka, lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

Everyone is talking about technology and how it can suit nearly everything. Wherever there is a problem, there is the promise of a technological solution, using some combination of artificial intelligence or machine learning, big data, automation, and the Internet of Things.

There’s no doubt that technology is set to have a big impact on every part of supply-chain operations, from planning to logistics. By focusing so much attention on digital solutions, however, companies may inadvertently be ensuring their failure. That’s because the technology-first approach ignores an inconvenient truth: the intensely human nature of the supply chain.

Technological optimists paint a bold picture of supply chains that are so highly digitized that the function itself disappears. They envision a world in which forecasting, planning, and execution are fully automated and seamlessly integrated, where systems adapt to solve problems and respond to changes in supply or demand without human intervention. Can this be achieved?  In the future such supply chains might eventually become a reality, but today’s digital solutions must be integrated into today’s supply chains which can be a challenge.

Today’s supply chains are wrestling with the same problems they have faced for decades: poor visibility, uncertainty, mistrust among functions and stakeholders, biased behaviours, misaligned incentives, and slow decision making. Can technology fix that?

Problems like these won’t be solved by algorithms. Worse, left unaddressed, they could destroy much of the potential value of other digital solutions. The most sophisticated demand forecasting system is of little use if commercial teams and production planners ignore its outputs. And the value chain may be impacted.

Recognizing the critical role of people doesn’t invalidate the use of supply chain technology.

However, technology for sure may support supply chain operations. It can provide more data, and new insights from existing data. It can automate previously manual tasks, such as with electronic order-taking or robotic warehouse automation. And may help organisations address the human problems, by enabling greater trust, better communication, and enhanced collaboration across the organization. But we are far away from the dream.


Bechtsis, D.; Tsolakis, N.; Vlachos, W.; Iakovou, E. (2017) . Sustainable supply chain management in the digitalisation era: The impact of Automated Guided Vehicles. https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S0959652616316675?via%3Dihub

Holmström, J. (2019). The digitalization of operations and supply chain management: Theoretical and methodological implications. Journal of operations management. https://doi-org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/10.1002/joom.1073

LaBombard, M.; McArthur, S.;  Sankur, A.; Shah, K.; (2019). The Human side of digital supply chains. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/the-human-side-of-digital-supply-chains

Price, Ch. (2018). How can technology improve supply chain management? https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/intelligent-business/supply-chain-management/

Digital Accountants…Getting Connected 

Monday 23rd March 2020
Time: 9:30am
Location: Ashley Building LT004

Staffordshire University is the ‘Connected University’ that meets the needs of its students, businesses and society both in the UK and internationally. The conference focuses on the areas of contemporary accounting and finance, hence the title … “Digital Accountants … Getting Connected”.

At Staffordshire University Business School, the accounting and finance courses (both undergraduate and postgraduate) have always been at the frontier of the digital revolution in terms of contents, platforms and delivery. The conference will bring together practitioners, academics and consultants to deliver and engage our students with a wealth of their knowledge and expertise in a range of areas such as, Financial Technology, Taxation, Auditing, Islamic Finance, Charity Organisation and Management accounting. The aim is to support learners in building an advanced level of critical awareness and reflectivity which are necessary for a successful career in the 21st Century.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s keynote innovative, globally experienced and industrial speakers are Karen Staley; Sally McGill; Abdel-Haq Mohammed; Al Bahloul Mohammad; Simon Harris; Rick Jones; Julius Ejechi; Glenn Parkes; and Sarah Ralph.

Our speakers will speak on areas such as:

  • Oracle Cloud
  • Financial Technology (Fintech)
  • Contemporary Audit
  • Customer centricity in Modern Business
  • Charity Engaging Digitally with Financial World
  • Islamic Finance in Modern Society
  • Auditing in Digital age
  • HMRC’s digital tax returns: A practitioner’s perspective.

Sally McGill

Chief Financial Officer
Staffordshire University

Sally is responsible for the on-going financial sustainability of the University working with a range of internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the organisation is able to respond to key opportunities as they arise.  As a member of the Executive, Sally contributes to the strategic and commercial leadership and management of the organisation.

Sally is a graduate of Durham University, where she studied modern languages, and holds a master’s degree from Sheffield University in Information Technology Management.  She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has been active within the British Universities Finance Directors Group for many years, most recently as Chair.  She has also been a School Governor and Trustee for a Multi Academy Trust in the North East of England.

Prof. Mohammed Abdel-Haq

Professor in Banking and Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of Bolton

Mohammed Abdel-Haq is a founding member and CEO of a newly formed, FSA regulated, Merchant Bank based in London. He is a private equity investor and Director of a number of UK companies. He was MD and Global Head of HSBC Amanah Private Banking and CEO of Barwa Capital (UK) Ltd. He is Vice President of The Disability Partnership, and a Trustee of the NGO Forward Thinking. In 2011 Mohammed was appointed Chairman of the UK Ministerial Advisory Group on Extremism in Universities and FE Colleges.

Karen Staley

Director at GEENS Chartered Accountants and Registered Auditors

Karen specialises in all aspects relating to the firm’s varied and extensive corporate client base, from the relatively small owner managed to the larger more complex corporate entities. She works closely with her clients in supervising their routine accounts preparation and audit and corporate taxation matters. She is the firm’s senior statutory auditor and her audit team also looks after statutory and non-statutory audits and regulated client compliance work such as solicitors, pension schemes and our clients within the financial services sector. She also advises landed estates and trusts on all matters relating to accounting and tax. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1998 at Geens and became the firm’s first female partner in 2003.

Dr. Mohammad Albahloul

Lecturer in Accounting, University of Salford

Dr. Mohammad Albahloul is a Professionally Certified Accountant and a graduate from the University of Manchester. His research focuses on the international characteristics of accounting profession, auditing and accounting education. Prior to joining Salford University, he worked as International Management Consultant re auditing and accounting profession enhancement and curricula development. In particular, he has gained a valuable consultancy experience in accounting and auditing reforms including projects management in UK and overseas. 

Sarah Ralph

PwC – Corporate Finance

Sarah attended Staffordshire University to study Accounting & Finance on their two-year fast track course, where she achieved a first-class degree and obtained employment with PwC on their One Deals graduate scheme in 2019.  Sarah is currently working within their Corporate Finance division and is studying towards her ACA chartered accountant qualification with ICAEW, which she will complete by the end of 2022.  Within her role, Sarah specialises in M&A transactions, with a leaning towards the Retail, Consumer & Leisure sector.

Simon Harris

Chief executive, Stoke-on-Trent Citizens Advice Bureau

Simon Harris is currently the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Staffordshire North & Stoke-on-Trent, a post he has held since 2002. Prior to that he held a number of operational management roles in the same organisation, which he joined in 1985. He was a Board member at Staffordshire Housing (now the Honeycomb Group) from 1990 to 2014 and is a Trustee of ASIST (Advocacy Services in Staffordshire), having been Chair from 2003 to 2013. He currently sits on Citizens Advice’s national Equality Committee and the Stoke-on-Trent Hardship Commission.

Julius Ejechi

Lecturer in Accounting and Finance, University College Birmingham

Julius Ejechi is a Lecturer in Accounting and Finance and Programme Leader BSc Finance and Accounting at University College Birmingham (UCB). He is currently a doctoral student and a Visiting Teaching Fellow in the School of Finance and Management at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His research interest includes accounting for climate related risks; impact of fintech on business financing, economic growth and financial inclusion; economic impact of further education colleges, universities and alternative higher education providers; and valuation and tax modelling of oil and gas assets and renewable energy investments.

Rick Jones

Customer Experience Expert

Rick has explored behind the scenes with several of Britain’s most accomplished customer experience brands including Lexus, Prêt a Manger, Microsoft, Mandarin Oriental, and has worked with Customer Experience thought leaders in both the U.K. and U.S.A.In 2012, Rick set up his own business and has provided Change Management services to Nationwide Building Society, Coventry Building Society, Barclays, Capita, and online Bank, Aldermore. Rick is an accomplished speaker and coach who transfers his passion for customer experience to audiences through real life situations and explanations, achieving memorable light-bulb moments which act as a mechanism for sustainable focus.

Follow the Business School on social media:


Organiser contact details

Mayowa Akinbote mayowa.akinbote@staffs.ac.uk 01782 294164

Just a rant about engagement

Dr. Jenny Gale, Senior Lecturer in HRM, Staffordshire Business School

Globally, employee engagement has been documented as low, particularly so in the UK, and we can debate about why this is so.  However, frustratingly for practitioners (and those academics who are interested), there is a distinct lack of agreement about what engagement is and isn’t, partly because it is a multi-faceted concept, incorporating attitudes and behaviours that are not easily captured within simple definitions.  Consequently, engagement has been distilled into sub-categories to reflect physical, cognitive, and emotional dimensions, along with different levels of engagement such as ‘engaged’, ‘not-engaged’ and its opposite ‘disengagement’ (see Gallup 2006).  Then it might have a lot to do with employees’ personalities, or issues around what it is that they are supposed to be engaged with (such as work tasks and organisational goals) and/or who (managers, senior managers, colleagues, customers, etc.).  You can also find lots of free articles and blogs on how to improve engagement or, if you are feeling flushed, engage a consultancy firm on a lucrative contract.  You can also learn all about the ‘myths’ of engagement – you can take your pick about how many ‘myths’ there are (three, four, five, twelve, etc.) 

Despite all this noise about engagement, it is difficult to nail down. It is frustratingly nebulous because no-one can agree what it is, although we think we know it when we see it.  We might observe how someone goes about their job – putting in extra hours, ‘going the extra mile’, engaging in ‘discretionary behaviour’, demonstrating a high level of commitment, motivation, and high levels of performance, ‘living the brand’, ‘walking the walk’, etc.  All these are supposed to mean an employee is ‘engaged’.  On the other hand, they might just be working their socks off because they are afraid of losing their job or being over-looked for promotion.

All this has implications about whether we are ‘doing engagement right’ in terms of policy and practice.  Engagement surveys, for example, are supposed to provide employers with vital information about levels of engagement and the kind of things that either promote it or prevent it.  The key point about these surveys is to act on the information in order to avoid it becoming a ‘tick-box’ exercise, frustrating employees in the process.  ACAS once stated that engagement can potentially drive business success, providing it is genuinely sought and understood, rather than just about driving the intensification of work in disguise.

Finally, there is a view that engagement is an obsession that fails to produce lasting results because employee engagement isn’t really ‘a thing’ at all but another management fad, stimulated in part by the MacLeod Review, a government commissioned study in 2009.  Personally, I’m not convinced engagement is ‘a thing’, at least not in a way that really matters.  There are positive examples of what engagement has been argued to achieve, of course.  Maplin is an interesting one – once held up as a shining example of the link between engagement and business success.  Too bad it has since disappeared from the High Street!  Was employee engagement ever really the problem? Or the answer?

I confess that the more I read about employee engagement, the more confused I get.  What I am less confused about, though, is ‘good employee relations’ and the good old- fashioned principles that underpin it – trust, fairness, integrity, transparency, equality, equity, etc.  While these principles are arguably part of the engagement discourse, the pre-occupation with ‘engagement’ as a term and what it is and isn’t distracts from what really is important.  Instead of trying to increase employee engagement, what about simplifying things and putting trust and fairness centre stage?  Trust and fairness incorporate many aspects of human decency, respect and integrity and it would be nice to see new life breathed into these words in the workplace.  Engagement?  That is much less of ‘a thing’ in my book.

“Are The Services Enough”: The Issue of Service Quality in Higher Education

Dr Ijeoma Onwumere , Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

How service quality affects students and its continuity has been a recent debate phenomenon in Higher Education Institutions (HEI). The way student perceived service quality has been a growing research interest in higher education (HE). Service quality includes all form of services rendered to student in HE which can be defined as a method of assessment that results from the evaluation of customer expectations with perception of performance; in other words, with regards to how customers really evaluate the services rendered.

Student perceptions of service, results from the comparison of expectations before service is received and the actual experience of that service. Therefore, the importance of service quality not only to HE but to all organisations cannot be neglected as it is regarded as a critical element of competitiveness through service superiority and differentiation. However, the question of what forms Service quality within the HE is a controversial one.

Services are not marginal activities but must be acknowledged as an intrinsic part of a society, which form an influential force in today’s global economic development. Owing to high financial GDP contribution by students in HE which leads to a progressive thriving economy in today’s competing environment. HEI are more concerned with and continuously seek to develop the quality of service of education that they provide to the student, firmly focusing on student centric mission, guaranteeing assurance of student satisfaction and quality provided. This is because students are now faced with eccentric challenges and fee-paying student (international student) like other consumers are now demanding attention to their student service and experience, greater value for money, and wanting their voice to be heard. More so, irrespective of high cost of fee, an institutional reputation can be improved by high performance of services.

Therefore, the need to understand how a student perceived the quality of service received is quite essential for every institution. The reason being that when HEI provide analyses and understand how student evaluate services, it may assist in attracting and retaining student. Higher education sectors need to improve their services, through consistent heightening of their service strength through quality teaching, innovative facilities, pastoral care, improved customer services in order to meet the needs, demands and expectations of their student and maintain student satisfaction.


Dehghan, A., Dugger, J., Dobrzykowski, D., & Balazs, A. (2014). The antecedents of student loyalty in online programs. International Journal of Educational Management, 28(1), 15-35. doi:10.1108/IJEM-01-2013-0007

Kärnä, S., & Julin, P. (2015). A framework for measuring student and staff satisfaction with university campus facilities. Quality Assurance in education, 23(1), 47-66

Sally, B. (2011). Bringing about positive change in the higher education student experience: a case study. Quality Assurance in education, 19(3), 195-207. doi:10.1108/09684881111158027

Sultan, P., & Wong, H. Y. (2012). Service Quality in a Higher Education Context: An Integrated Model (Received Emerald’s Award for Excellence 2013). Asia Pacific journal of marketing and logistics, 24(5), 755-784. 

Sultan, P., & Wong, H. Y. (2013). Antecedents and consequences of service quality in a higher education context: a qualitative research approach. Quality Assurance in education, 21(1), 70-95.

Teeroovengadum, V., Kamalanabhan, T., & Seebaluck, A. K. (2016). Measuring service quality in higher education: Development of a hierarchical model (HESQUAL). Quality Assurance in Education, 24(2), 244-258.

Staffordshire Business School – Research Profile

About Us

Staffordshire Business School aspires to be a leader in making a real impact on business and society through collaborative research and innovation. Our team of academics have successfully delivered many industry/business and government funded research projects and have extensive experience of leading large team projects including local, UK, EU and internationally funded projects. 

Many of our team members combine rich industry and practitioner experience with academic rigour in conducting world-leading research and generating social and economic impacts in a wide range of areas and fields. Our expertise includes but is not limited to the following research streams and clusters:

Business and Management

  • Human Resources Management
  • Labour Market, Employment Relations and Migration
  • Organisational Change and Development
  • Public Sector Management
  • Leadership and Management Learning
  • Corporate Governance and Firm Performance
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • International Business and International Management
  • Place Marketing and Branding
  • Consumer Behaviour and Health Marketing
  • SME Innovation
  • Merger and Acquisition
  • Strategic Management and Leadership
  • Financial Management
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • LGBT Tourism and Family Tourism

Digital Transformation and Innovation

  • Digital business strategy
  • Digital marketing and social media
  • Esports business and management
  • Digital technology diffusion in the financial sector
  • Digital entrepreneurship

Smart Cities/Communities/Urban and Regional Development

  • Smart cities strategy
  • Analysis and Evaluation of Public Policy on Urban Development (i.e. health; social care; urban education)
  • Place Leadership
  • Welfare reform
  • Community engagement and social inclusion
  • Environmental issues and sustainability

Postgraduate Research

Our academics conduct empirical research and are actively publishing across a range of disciplines.  As such they have a long history and a successful track record of research supervision at both MPhil and Doctoral levels. We are excited to welcome you to join our postgraduate research student community.

To find out more about our team and their scholarly expertise, please visit: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/academic_depts/business/people/

Contact Us

For partnership and collaboration with us in industry-oriented projects in both public and private sectors, please contact Professor Fang Zhao – Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.

For enquiries about our MPhil or PhD program, please contact:

Staffordshire University Graduate School at graduateschool@staffs.ac.uk.

Annual Global Business Directions Conference

Thursday February 6th 2020
Location – Ashley LT001
Dr Ijeoma Onwumere and Kathryn Taylor

As the ‘Connected University’ to meet the needs of our student, businesses and society, the focus of this year’s conference will be on “Global Business Challenges: Thriving in a hyper-connected Global World: The way forward”.  We shall be exploring contemporary issues which businesses are facing globally and how these influence different areas of a business, such as, Digital Marketing, Business Administration and Strategy, Supply Chain in addition to the Health Service. The aim to support learners in building the advanced level skills of critical awareness and reflectivity necessary for a successful career in the 21st Century.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s keynote innovative, globally experienced and industrial speakers are: Tony Evans; Luke Bracegirdle; Balint Laszl; Dr Abdul Jabbar; Dr Radi Haloub; and Steve Lawley.

Tony Evans, Head of Financial Services, UK Amazon Web Services

Tony Evans

Tony Evans, Head of Financial services, UK amazon web services. A globally experienced & innovative executive, working with customers to create data-driven digital strategies. He takes personal pride in developing customer-obsessed solutions, top talent and creating a world-class performance culture.

Tony has vast interest in growth leaders, Digital Disruption, Big Data, change Management and Business Strategy. Also, as former Head of Leonardo and Analytics,Tony was responsible for enabling customers to leverage SAP’s innovation portfolio, to drive business transformation and operational improvement. As the executive sponsor for SAP Machine Learning and Cloud customer adoption, Tony partnered with customer executive teams to promote SAP’s next generation computing platform. At SAP, Tony led SAP’s billion-dollar North American Database business and has managed the North American financial services business as the Chief Operating Officer.

Prior to SAP, Tony has a successful track record in driving Business Process Reengineering and change management for global organisations, including PepsiCo, Lucent Technologies and IXNet. Tony has also held senior leadership positions across Oracle, BlackBerry and SAP, where he has led the organisation of sales, technical and marketing professionals, driving revenue growth through partnership with customers.

Tony is an alumnus of Staffordshire University, where he graduated with BA (Hons) in Business Studies and a Diploma in Marketing from CIM. Tony has an MBA in Change Management from the University of Brighton and is a qualified Project Manager with the Project Management Institute, an organisation he sat on the board of in NYC and represented in the Global Project Management Forum. Tony also sits on the board of a successful start-up, CrowdFlik where he partners with, and advises the CEO around business strategy.

In addition, we have excellent guest speakers from our network of local businesses and Alumni who will be sharing some of their valuable experiences.

Luke Bracegirdle BSc (Hons) Director of Virtual Health SHED Ltd.

Luke develops mobile applications, virtual reality and augmented reality digital resources for health. His work to develop a learning system for health students at Keele University was recently “Highly Commended” at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2018 for the Outstanding Digital Innovation of the Year category.

He is now working for the Digital Inclusion Programme for North Staffordshire, funded by NHS England to create patient information resources for voice activated assistants (e.g. Alexa), smartphones and tablets.

As a Director for the Virtual Health SHED, he leads on projects working to create innovative digital solutions for patient information and clinical training.

Luke has several Selected Publications:


  • Bracegirdle L and Chapman SR. Virtual Human Interaction System. AU.

Journal Articles

  • Humphreys M and Bracegirdle L. 2013. Using a Virtual Learning Environment within Simulation to enhance inter-professional team working skills. EDULEARN13 Abstracts, 4263-4268.
  • Richardson A, Bracegirdle L, McLachlan SIH, Chapman SR. 2013. Use of a Three-Dimensional Virtual Environment to Teach Drug-Receptor Interactions. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, vol. 77(1), Article 11.
  • Bracegirdle L and Chapman SR. 2010. Programmable Patients: Simulation of Consultation Skills in a Virtual Environment. Bio-Algorithms and Med-Systems, vol. 6(No. 11), 111-115.


  • Pringle JK, Bracegirdle L, Potter JA. Educational forensic e-gaming as effective learning environments for Higher Education Students in Forensic Science Education and Training. Editors: Williams A, Cassella JP, Maskell PD. 1: 119-136. Wiley 30 Jun 2017 (Chapter 9) http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118689232.html
  • Humphreys M, Rosenorn-Lanng D, Bracegirdle L. 2013. Using a Virtual Learning Environment within Simulation to enhance inter-professional team working skills and patient safety. In Patient Safety and Quality Dimensions of Health Informatics. Michell V, Gulliver S, Rosenorn-Lanng D, Currie W, Kuljis J (Eds.). IGI Global, Pennsylvania.

Dr Abdul Jabbar: Director of Learning Development 

Dr Abdul is the Director of Learning Development at Huddersfield University Business School. He is a guardian award winning academic with significant experience in software development, network design and e-commerce business models. Abdul is responsible for the Centre of Learning, Innovation and Development which has a focus on developing the student experience and providing innovative teaching and learning solutions. He is also the course leader for the cutting-edge course Business Data Analytics degree.

As part of his research Abdul has been successful in developing and running a fully functional Blockchain. Utilising his software skills and his expertise in business analytics.

Abdul has modelled and simulated different business processes within a Blockchain environment to ascertain the potential use case scenarios to support business growth. Current research has a focus on Blockchain and the use of real-time processing in automated decision making, with a view to anticipate the changing world of work.

Selected publication:

Balint Laszlo: Founder/ MD B2Control.net

Balint Laszlo is the Founder and MD of project consultancy company B2Control. He is currently a Senior Programme Control Consultant to National Grid’s Viking Link project, responsible for the time and cost controls for the overall programme of EPC work including cables, converters and civil’ s contracts.

After spending nearly, a decade in engineering the shift to project management has enabled Balint to work on major projects including London Power Tunnels in the UK, Lower Churchill Converters and Transition Compounds Project in Canada and Buk-Dangjin-Godeok project in South Korea. Working in the energy sector Balint passion towards sustainable energy production and consumption fired some debates with his peers and friends. Balint holds a BA(Hons) in Business Administration, Management and Operations and Engineering Degree in Telecommunications. https://www.b2control.net/

Dr Radi Haloub Senior Lecturer in Strategy

Radi is interested in multidisciplinary research and teaching between the Business School, School of Applied Science and School of Engineering by teaching Strategic Management for non-Business Students and leading Business Research projects.

Radi’s research interests lie in the areas of general Management, more specifically on Strategic Management, Minority Entrepreneurship, Forecasting and Business Ethics. Prior to joining the academia, Radi worked in practice for nine years in a strategic planning department at an international pharmaceutical company that operates in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries, in addition to his last post as a Unit Head at Procter and Gamble’s distributor (IATCO) in Saudi Arabia.

Radi is currently looking at the impact of culture and religion in social integration of minorities and its influence on forced entrepreneurship status for refuges and economic migrants.

Radi has served the community in the UK by conducting consultancy projects with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT), Kirklees Council, Calderdale Council, in addition to a few projects for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Yorkshire.

Selected Publication

Funded projects:

BA/Leverhulme funded project: Radi was commissioned as Co-investigator and working with Deema Refai and John Lever. This project titled: A Better Future – Understanding Refugee Entrepreneurship (BFURE). The team has been commissioned to carry out multi-site researches in West Yorkshire region and develop refugee’s skills and integration into the society. The project is supported by the Kirklees Council and some voluntary sector organisations such as Huddersfield Sanctuary and Yorkshire Spirit CIC (Education). Value: £6,060 (ongoing).

University Sandpit project: Radi was commissioned as the Principal Investigator and working with Deema Refai, Toby Martin and John Lever. This project titled: Sounding Out Refugees Stories in Jordan (SORJ). This is an interdisciplinary project to explore the journeys of Syrian refugees in Jordan and the challenges they face, focusing particularly on how these journeys and challenges lead them to engage in entrepreneurship, whereby they enhance their socio-economic cohesion. The project aimed to turn refugee stories into two songs to be presented at two main events in Jordan (at a university and a secondary school, respectively) to promote the positive image of refugees through songs. Value: £14,300 (completed in 2019).

Santander Student Mobility Funds: Radi was commissioned to lead a group of four MSc students to present and contribute to Business Ethics workshop at the American University of Madaba in Jordan. The workshop and presentation were conducted at the School level and all students and academics were involved. Value: £5,000 (completed in 2016).

Steve Lawley: Director, ThriveNet

Steve has worked most of his career with BT in a wide variety of roles in field engineering, customer service and programme management, also heading up the UK planning division when the Broadband network was initially being built. With 10 years’ experience at senior manager level in BT, he became Business Services Director in the Openreach division, responsible for business connectivity across the UK, before leaving BT in 2017 to become founder of his own consultancy business.

Steve is currently working with several business clients in the fibre and connectivity arena where his expertise in network asset investment is key to supporting current & future IP based technologies.

Steve holds a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Telecommunications Business from University College London, although has attended the Staffordshire campus previously before it became a Business School.

Staffordshire University
Business School
Location Ashley LT001

Programme for the Day

09:00 Registration and Networking
09:30 Welcome and IntroductionsIjeoma Onwumere & Kat Taylor
09:40 – 10:20 Keynote Speaker 1Tony Evans
Global Business Challenges: Thriving in a hyper-connected Global World: The way forward
10:30 Break
10:40 – 11:20 Speaker 2Abdul Jabbar
Artificial Intelligence & Big Data in today’s Business
11:30 – 12:10 Speaker 3Luke Bracegirdle
Technology innovation, Global Cross
Culture and Global business ethics’ in
health care medicines and IT policies.
12:10 Lunch and Networking
13:00 – 13:10Introduction to afternoon
13:10 – 13:50 Speaker 4Balint Laszlo
The effect and impact of green
sustainability in business
13:50 Break
14:00 – 14:40 Speaker 5Radi Haloub
Global Cross culture and Global business ethics in Business
14:45 – 15:25 Speaker 6Steve Lawley
Business Challenges – Digital Disruption and More
15:35 Summation and Closing RemarksIjeoma Onwumere & Kat Taylor

Organiser contact details:

Ijeoma Onwumere ico@staffs.ac.uk – 01782 294670
Kathryn Taylor Kathryn.Taylor@staffs.ac.uk- 01782294675

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The Development of a Global Citizen – Embedding Cultural Awareness into the Curriculum: Student Visit to British University Vietnam

Carol Southall, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

As the ‘Connected University’, Staffordshire University has a long history of working with international partners to deliver undergraduate and postgraduate education worldwide. Such links facilitate UK higher education (HE) provision, making HE available to those for whom it would otherwise be unaffordable were they to have to travel to the UK to study.

One such partnership is with the successful British University Vietnam (BUV), located in the north of Vietnam, in the country’s capital, Hanoi.

Now with a new, purpose-built campus in the Ecopark area of the City, BUV is expanding its course provision and consequently its student base, and now attracts students not only from Vietnam but also a small number from countries such as S Korea, Mongolia and Pakistan.

Since 2016, BUV have offered a UK summer school to their students, with small numbers, accompanied by staff members, travelling to the UK to spend a week at Staffordshire University and a further week exploring England.

In 2019, Student Experience funding made it possible for the first time to offer such an opportunity to Staffordshire Business School’s (SBS) Tourism Management and Event Management final year students based at Staffordshire University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus. The fund, with an additional contribution from students, supported the field trip to Vietnam to engage with British University Vietnam’s inaugural tourism conference, 5-6 December 2019 – ‘Vietnam Tourism in the 21st Century’.

Keynote speeches focused on ‘Sustainability’ and ‘The Journey to Cultural Awareness’, delivered by SBS Senior Lecturer and BUV Academic Link Tutor Carol Southall. The Vice Chairman of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Dr Ha Van Sieu also outlined the exponential growth in Vietnamese tourism since the country opened its doors to tourism from the West in 1988, from initial arrivals figures of under 93,000 to 16 million in 2019.

With his focus on ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, or rather ‘The Good, Risks and Challenges’, Andrew Nisbet, Cluster General Manager of The Hilton Hanoi Opera and Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi, discussed the importance and development of the hospitality industry in Vietnam and its challenges going forward. Such challenges included staff development and training and the importance of education. Additional challenges identified by other speakers included destination marketing and the comparatively low marketing budget of US$2 million annually, compared to the US$80 million budget invested in Thailand’s destination marketing, as well as airport capacity and alternative (niche) tourism products and services.

Throughout their time in Hanoi, students were able to experience traditional northern Vietnamese food, including delicacies such as Egg Coffee, Bánh mì and Bun cha, the latter being immortalised in the tourist ‘must-eat’ list, after the then US President Barack Obama visited Hanoi and ate Bun Cha at a local restaurant in 2016. 

The visit also incorporated key tourist sites such as the jaw-droppingly beautiful Trang An Landscape Complex, recognised by UNESCO and located within the Ninh Binh Province of North Vietnam, near the southern edges of the Red River Delta. Other excursions included a boat trip through Halong Bay, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as local attractions in Hanoi including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, Ho Lao prison (the infamous Hanoi Hilton), Walking street, Heritage House, Hoan Kiem Lake, Old Town and the City’s night market.

A highlight of the visit was an evening reception at the British Embassy Hanoi, where students and academics networked with industry to discuss their experiences of Vietnam and possible future opportunities. Visiting Discova, a Hanoi-based inbound Tour Operator, on their last day, students discovered more about tourism in Vietnam, and how a tour operator capitalises on international markets. Discussions were held around how the first Formula 1 in Hanoi in April 2020 will put Vietnam ‘on the World Stage’, evidencing to Event Management students the importance of global events in showcasing a destination. Students also heard more about the challenges faced by Vietnamese tourism organisations and operators, including those of sustainability, repeat visitation, cultural sensitivity and the competitive nature of the MICE market (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) and the corresponding growth of destinations such as Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) as MICE destinations.

As a connected University it is imperative to consider how we connect, not just locally, regionally and domestically, but also globally. Opportunities for cultural exchange, such as field trips, virtual classes, Skype/Microsoft Teams discussions, staff and student exchange, placements and collaborative academic research projects all enable the interaction required to facilitate cultural understanding and integration, leading to higher levels of cultural competence.   

For students on an undergraduate degree there can be no doubt that such a trip is a life-changing experience. Becoming a global citizen and melting the cultural iceberg takes time. We need to understand the journey from cultural sensitivity to increased cultural awareness and cultural competence, and ultimately to global interconnectedness and understanding. But any journey starts with the first step, and for Staffordshire Business School students, their journey to cultural competence is well-underway.

Enterprise and Employability Week

Week Commencing Monday 20th January 2020

Starting from Monday 20th January, Staffordshire Business School will be running a whole week of activities designed to enhance student employability and enterprise skills.

Activities include:

  • TestFest exams to become a certified Miscrosoft Office Specialist
  • A drop in session to discuss ideas and suggestions with the Business School Senior Management Team
  • Guest speakers from organisations such as the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and international universities

Take a look at the schedule below for timings and more information: