Change is Inevitable: Adapt to Survive

Dr. Mohammad Ali Wasim – Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

In the last year we have all come to realise that whatever plans we had cannot bear fruit. It may be surprising to know that it was not just individuals who faced this conundrum but also businesses, small and large, including societies as a whole. We keep hearing we are all in this together, but are we really?

A recent report by the BBC talks about the impact on child development and how infants and toddlers have faced significant challenges in the pandemic impacting their growth and development specially their social skills. Having a 3 year old who is about to start play group in the next week or so I can relate to the findings of the report. Similar issues have been highlighted with teens suffering from loneliness and mental health issues. Students struggling with being at home and trying to make sense of this ‘new normal’. Working adults have faced job loss, furlough and elements of losing focus facing domestic abuse causing a rise in divorce rates. Companies are struggling with their operations trying to retain staff, maintain existing business and survive. So when we say we are all in this together, it does hold true.

The things that I have discussed earlier would act as a context to the discussion which follows. We are here, we made it this far, we survived. How did we and others did it? What should be our learnings for the way forward to continue to be resilient, agile and a survivor to face the ‘new normal’.

Work From Home

This is here to stay and the more we deny it, the more we are at a loss. This is a skill a lot of us have developed over the year. Getting used to new software such as Teams and Zoom. The quicker we learn and adapt to this change the better. Organisations have seen this as an opportunity to cut down costs by getting rid of office space and individuals saving on commute cost. In addition, productivity has seen to go up. A happier employee in this scenario seems to be more productive. So, the flexible working arrangements have been quite beneficial and that is something a lot of companies are thinking of making permanent. A good employability strength we all need to focus on and develop further.

Increased Online Presence

A lot of businesses, whether large or small, have realised the importance of being online. With the support we provided at Staffordshire Business School to small business through our Survive and Thrive initiative, it was a key to their survival. The businesses need to make sure that not only do they have an online presence, but also they are able to communicate in a timely manner with their existing and potential clients. This trend has also been followed by small and local businesses where they have all signed up to delivery apps and other such platforms due to the risk of losing business if they don’t do so. This is also linked to the rising use of social media as a refuge and also connecting people together mechanism in these strange times, helping people cope better who would have been otherwise disconnected from it all.

Streamlining of Supply Chains

It was surprising to find out as consumers of global products that a lot of our products come from the same sources. This shock to the system took place when a major chunk of shipments stopped to large economies such as the UK and USA. This realisation of over dependence on China and other players in the market made companies shift to explore alternative suppliers and to re-align their supply chain. Some countries have also benefitted from this where the textile exports of countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh went up significantly due to the pandemic significantly impacting China at the start.

Cashless Payments

Another major shift was the move to card payments rather than cash, which has benefited many businesses, but has impacted others which were purely cash based. These are also the same businesses who have been unable to benefit from the furlough scheme in full because they were not fully part of the financial system they could not make use of the government scheme. This impact was seen across the UK to a number of Taxi, local shops and takeaway businesses who were unable to move to the new developing cashless environment due to the pandemic. All these examples provide us the opportunity to stop and think that the world has changed for the better or worse only time with tell. The key to our survival as individuals, organisations and societies is adapting to the change. Learning from our experience in the last year and evolving to see what can be done in a better way. How can we become more prepared and have the right contingency plans in place. The 1st wave was a shock to the system and we were all in it for the first time. We were all better prepared the second time round. Hoping that things continue to improve and with the roll out of the vaccines and people being more cautious we won’t be hit with a 3rd wave. It is all about taking a moment to reflect on how much we have come through as individuals, companies and society as a whole.

The light at the end of the tunnel is there and we all can make it brighter by reflecting on our strengths, learning from others and having a positive frame of mind. As Rumi rightly put it:

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi

The ‘Fantabulous’ Francis Jackson

Deon Wong, Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student

On Wednesday 24th March 2021, Year 1 & 2 Fda Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Students (VARM) attended a virtual Q&A with extra special guest Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resorts Operations Director). The meeting enabled students to ask Francis on all things Alton Towers, specifically his journey, COVID impacts, new role and advice on how to be successful within the industry. I (Deon Wong), one of the VARM students, was given the opportunity to become the master of ceremonies and lead the Q&A.

Francis Jackson began the Q&A by giving us a brief background history into his experience, from working at Australia’s Falls Creek Ski Lifts as the Director of Snowsports to being the beloved Operations Director at Alton Towers. He has a solid belief in transferring his knowledge gained and sharing them with his team to make them bigger and better. Francis expressed his huge heart towards Alton Towers and how he enjoys the customer focus moments, where he has built relationships to improve the customer journey. He regrets not having time to be out there with the customers and staff due to his administrative role.

Moving into the 2021 season, ATR aims to deliver a ‘thrilliant’ season of celebrations and fun. With an increase in footfall, new safety regulations are introduced to adhere to the safety guidelines. Francis mentioned various new additions to accompany guests’ safety and capacity, from utilising the lawn space, new ride openings, temporary flat rides, and monorail adjustments. Maintaining a ‘fantabulous’ presentation and customer journey is a massive priority for Francis. From ensuring cigarettes and chewing gum are picked up to repainting areas. Francis states it’s all about the “pursuit of guest excellence for the guest journey “- (Francis Jackson, 2021).

Francis Jackson discussed his new role as general manager. With over 30 years of experience in the leisure industry, he’s driven to make the customer journey and experience better. He understands change is always good, as businesses can’t stay static. They have to adapt, change and constantly move forwards to progress. He’s a firm believer in achieving an outstanding organisation by refocusing on corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion. Within his new role as general manager, he’s accountable for all things COVID related, capacity and having the final say in difficult decisions.

Lastly, Francis Jackson passed on specific advice on how to be successful within the leisure industry. From knowing your product, listening to guest feedback and continuously pushing the product your offering to entice guests. One advice he advises is for people to be authentic and be true to themselves; once you divert and create a fake facade, issues will arise. It’s important to feel confident and ensure you have questions to ask, as It’s constantly a lesson of growth and development.


All about business

Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean, Staffordshire Business School

Just about every university that you stumble across will offer degrees in Business – it’s an all-encompassing subject that prepares students for a multitude of careers. It’s popular and fun to study. So, what is a business degree?

The foundations

Business degrees usually cover a range of core knowledge that will help you to understand how businesses operate, whether you start work in the offices or as part of a management team. Learning core subjects such as marketing, finance, human resource management and organisational behaviour will equip you with knowledge that makes sense of the business environment within which you work. Modern businesses appear to be less hierarchical, so a good all-round knowledge of the mechanics of business operations is a great foundation for a career in any business sector.

Where will this take me?

Most students decide to study so that they can enhance their employment opportunities on completion of their degree. Business students often ask what careers may be opened up to them with a degree in Business and to be quite blunt, pretty much every organisation that you will work for throughout your working life will operate as a business. Whether public, private, not-for-profit (charity) or self-employed, the same business principles apply – an organisation has to make money to invest money in the growth of the business.

How can I specialise?

So, although a business degree gives you an all-round view of business operations, there are still ways in which you can specialise within your degree, to make it more enjoyable and more relevant to you:

1) Degree Choice

Students can specialise in their business degree choice. For example, at Staffordshire Business School we offer 3 business degrees, each of which has a specialised focus in contemporary areas of business:

Business Management and Sustainability
Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Finance and Business Enterprise

The beauty of each of these degrees is that during the first year, students follow a common syllabus regardless of which degree they have chosen. This means that should they decide to change their study focus having “dipped their toes” into the waters of business study, the transfer onto one of the other business courses is fairly seamless.

2) Different lengths of study

For some of our business degrees you can also specialise by choosing different lengths of study – we have accelerated two-year versions of both our Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship and our Finance and Business Enterprise degree. Two years of study means two years of fees, not three, so it costs less and you get to the job market more quickly! Added to this, employers recognise that students who have undertaken an accelerated degree are resilient and hard-working – you have to be to take on continual study without the Summer break afforded to most university students.

3) Options modules

You can also specialise by choosing optional modules that suit your interests and needs. All of our courses offer options modules in the second and third year of study, making it possible for you to control the content of your degree to suit your preferences. We recently asked students and graduates which options choices they would like and they chose subjects such as Psychology in Business, Social Media Strategy and PRINCE2.

4) Placement years

Taking a year out to undertake a business placement is possibly one of the best things you can do to add value to your degree. We know from experience that the students with placement year experience tend to do better in the jobs market when they leave university – which makes sense, as they have more to write about in their CV. One of our Business School students, Jack, had this to say about his placement year at Aldi:

“I have experienced first-hand just how relevant a Business Management degree from Staffordshire University can be. The theories we learn, practice, and apply to assignments can be similarly applied to real-life business situations. I completed a 12 month Industrial Placement with Aldi. Throughout the Placement I had the opportunity to lead various projects – looking at real business issues – where the models and approaches taught at Staffs proved to be instrumental in promptly understanding the situation and assessing the appropriate direction to take to find the most effective solution. A Staffs Business degree is your competitive advantage!” – Jack Tordoff.

Further study

And of course, many of our business graduates enjoy the university experience so much, that they decide to go on to study further on completion of their business degree. Fortunately, we have an attractive range of postgraduate degrees in subjects such as International Business Management, Digital Marketing Management and Accounting and Finance, so there are plenty of options to choose from. Going into the job market with a postgraduate qualification immediately gives employers an indication of how committed and capable you are – it’s a great asset to your CV.

Enterprise and entrepreneurship

Not everyone wants to work for someone else. In the UK currently, there are approximately 4.31 million self-employed workers. If you’ve got a business dream and want help in turning it into a reality, then on completion of your business degree you could get support from our Enterprise Zone, who can help with your business start-up challenges

Find out more about the range of courses on offer at Staffordshire Business School today – we don’t just teach business, we’re busINess.

Free Digital Marketing advice for local SMEs

Digital marketing is a rapidly changing business environment, Google has changed its algorithm several times and this is affecting SMEs website visibility, search engine ranking and therefore sales, plus customers have changed their use of social media, for example increased their use of Facebook and Instagram to purchase online.  As lock-down is being reduced and customers are used to viewing and purchasing online, businesses are substantially increasing their use of digital marketing.  The increase in competition to gain customers will makes sales tougher, especially as businesses look to recover their lost income.  So it is essential that business get their digital marketing right. 

I’ve been in the consultancy world for over 25 years and here at Staffordshire Business School (SBS) for over 10 years. During this time, I have helped numerous SMEs successfully grow their sales and develop their brand via effective targeted digital marketing, including changing a loss making organisation to making a profit in eighth weeks, increased sales by over 400% by advising on improvements to an organisations website, and increased sales by over 600%  by developing an organisations social media strategy.  We are now developing this further by pulling together teams of experienced digital marketing lecturers and trained students to offer support to our local SMEs.  This will be via free digital marketing clinics to support our local SMEs.  

The areas we’re starting to help business are :- 

  • SEO Audit – to help improve your page ranking on google and therefore help your customers find you. 
  • Local SEO Audit – to help local customers find and contact you  
  • Social Media Audit – to help improve the impact of your social media 
  • Competitor Analysis and Audit – to help see what your competitors are doing right… and wrong so that you can improve your competitive position. 

And soon we are extending these to include :- 

  • Mobile Marketing Audit – mobile is the most popular platform for most customers, so we help improve your online / digital marketing for mobiles. 
  • Customer Analysis – we’ll analyse your customers online buying behaviour, keywords that they use, what they use and when. 
  • Website and customer analytics – a combination of analysing your website and it’s effectiveness at gaining customers and enabling customers to buy from you or contact you. 

A big thank you to the North Staffs Dementia Support Charity Approach Staffordshire, for being involved in the pilot, their support has been invaluable. 

The clinics are starting on Wednesday 28th April at 17:00 and then next one is on Wednesday 26th May 17:00. Click here to book your slot on either of these dates.

Please note that places are limited so if you’re not able to get a timeslot please email me and we will start with an initial chat with myself to clarify which area you are interested in, plus I’ll booking you into a future 30 minute clinic with one of our teams at a later date.  For further details please contact or via LinkedIn at  

Trust – an important ingredient towards work/life balance

Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

This is my 3rd blog and I will continue with the theme of sharing my thoughts from previous corporate employment. So, this one is dedicated to work-life balance.

While teaching on a level 6 module ‘Change and Transformation’ we watched a video where the HR Manager for sales in Google was talking about creating trust and people management ( She stated that she does not check on how much time her team spends in office or how many sick days they take. She further said that there was no rule on specific office timings. It was all about performance which was evaluated quarterly and an individual could decide how they met their targets as they were adults and could work out their own schedules and holidays; thus, managing their work/life balance.

This reminded me of one of my favourite bosses in the corporate world. I had to travel home which was in another city on a personal emergency and in my request did mention that all work will be taken care of – his reply – I don’t care if you work out of Timbuktu, till the work is done. That was the trust my boss had in me and that trust helped in creating the best work/life balance I had in my corporate life.

A checklist by CMI, confirms that the employers need to provide the control to employees to manage their working arrangements taking into consideration their social aspects  and also achieve organisational objectives.

If organisations offer flexitime, the communication should be clear and the corporate culture should support it. Creating a culture of respect and trust (Grimes, 2011) is the first step towards successful flexitime policies supporting work/life balance. This is not easy and has its challenges; however, with correct implementation, this can lead to employer/employee satisfaction, thriving organisations and increased employee retention.

In the face of the pandemic, when working from home has become the ‘new normal,’ the need for trust between employer and employee has further heightened. Many companies like Unilever have gone on record about increased productivity and increased employee engagement as an outcome of remote working.

In a study conducted on ethical behaviours by managers, trust shown by senior management and supervisors and their support for work/life balance was perceived to be ethical (Cowart, et al., 2014).

The Mental Health Foundation, UK has also confirmed that 1 in 6 people will experience mental health issues emanating from a negative work/life balance. Thus, it is imperative that organisations support work/life balance. This can be achieved by:

  1. Clear guidelines by the organisation
  2. Transparent dialogue between employer and employee
  3. Expectations management
  4. Trust across the ranks and not only limited to a few employees
  5. Taking personal responsibility
  6. Conducive work environment
  7. Clear demarcation between work and life

20 years’ smart city research marching on – what’s next?

Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean Research and Enterprise, Staffordshire Business School

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in towns and cities, resulting in the consumption of over 70% of energy, and the emission of an equal amount of greenhouse gases (European Commission, 2019). The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the challenges that cities have already been facing from multiple fronts such as rapid urbanisation, digital disruptions, demographic, climate and environmental changes, economic restructuring and reforms. Covid-19 is changing how urban residents live, work and commute and reshaping economic structures and business models. In the current global battle against Covid-19, smart cities have a pivotal role to play in responding to the crisis in terms of track-and-trace of coronavirus cases using smart technologies, enforcing social distancing rules, getting homeless people off the streets, and special emergency measures for care homes, to give just a few examples.

The concept of a smart city has been seen as a strategy to tackle the grand challenges facing urban planning and development. Smart city is a fuzzy word with various terms being used – intelligent city, digital city, green city, knowledge city, and smart sustainable city. Research on smart city can be traced back to the 1990s, taking on many perspectives, mostly in four aspects: the technological aspect including the technological infrastructure and support network for building smart cities, the socio-cultural aspect, or citizen engagement, the political-institutional aspect, such as government support and policies, and the economic-business aspect, namely business models and profitability.

A team of researchers (Prof Zhao, Dr Olushola Fashola, Dr Tolulope Olarewaju and Dr Ijeoma Onwumere) at Staffordshire Business School have been investigating what has been done in smart city research over the past 20 years. After a systematic and comprehensive literature review, the research team found that smart city research tends to revolve around six key areas: digital technology diffusion, smart city strategy and implementation, supply chains and logistics, urban planning and governance, smart city entrepreneurship and innovation, and Smart city evaluation and measurement. The team also identified four major challenges for small city research: (a) smart city research is often fragmented and technology-driven; (b) many studies are on perceived benefits of smart cities and fewer on the downsides of the effect of technologies and failure projects; (c) there is a need to build new theories for smart city research; and (d) there is a lack of empirical testing of the conceptual frameworks developed in smart city research. Furthermore, the team found that there was very limited research on crisis management in smart city before 2020. However, the research landscape is changing with emerging literature investigating how smart cities respond to crises and pandemics, and exploring strategies that can be used to tackle swiftly the crisis effectively at both strategic and operational levels.

Directions for future research and practice in smart cities are proposed.  If you want to know more and/or seeking for collaboration, please contact Prof Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and Enterprise at

Staffordshire Business School Students take a STeLLL:aR approach to Learning, Surviving and Thriving in Lockdown

Carol Southall, Course Director, Staffordshire Business SChool

STudent Life and Learning in Lockdown: achieving Resilience (STeLLL:aR)

Staffordshire Business School students are not alone in their sense of isolation as they work remotely on modules and projects as part of their undergraduate, postgraduate or research degrees. What makes them STeLLL:aR is their efforts to work with the tools and technology they have access to and really engage with industry, as well as with other Schools and students across the University.

So far this academic year we have seen numerous examples of this resilience and engagement with learning through projects such as the Social Isolation Project – Digital Pub in the Cloud, a joint collaboration between Arts and Events students to address the issue of social isolation through the medium of art and well-publicised events to showcase and disseminate the messages that #ArtsMeanBusiness and #AMEtoConnect are key to better communications about this issue in these challenging times.

The Connected Café, designed and managed by Staffordshire Business School students, including our Department Representatives, will enable students to meet virtually, engage in fun activities and get to know their peers across different courses.

For Level 5 Event Management students, working with Appetite to establish the need for greater engagement with the arts and cultural sector across the City of Stoke on Trent, has offered a real insight into the importance of the arts and culture in our daily lives, especially as we recognise now more than ever, the human need for social interaction. The questionnaire, designed by the students, in partnership with Appetite, aims to establish awareness of Appetite and give a chance for respondents to suggest what arts and cultural entertainment they would be likely to engage in, were it possible to do so.

The Trentham Gardens volunteer programme, set up by staff from Staffordshire Business School and the Events Team at Trentham, aims to offer events volunteer opportunities to all SBS students. Event Management students have already been involved in volunteering for the December Fairy Lights event and have clocked up an impressive number of (socially-distanced) hours between them in the lead-up to Christmas. The package of training, travel expenses and opportunities to enhance employability skills has really enhanced student learning, and offered some respite from the challenge of lockdown. Events students have also been able to work remotely with the team at Trentham Gardens, to carry out a survey to establish awareness of the Gardens and Retail Village amongst specific target markets. Students presented their survey results and gave suggestions of how to attract their identified target market, as well as suggesting some events more likely to attract the target market in question. The students will also form a focus group for the Trentham team when their new event ideas are explored further.

Recognising the challenges faced by people in lockdown, Level 6 Event Management students have organised a challenge event #TogetherAtHome, for their final year project, the aim of which is to bring people together throughout lockdown, by encouraging them to share original, unique and creative photos/videos to generate positivity. Their Facebook page is and any donations received through this project, will go towards Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank, to help individuals in need during COVID-19.

The Celebrating Student Success Awards were held at the end of January 2021, to showcase student achievements throughout the course of lockdowns 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. The Awards event was planned and hosted by students for students, highlighting the resilience and successes of students, as well as their ability to mentor their peers. With categories ranging from Staffs Superhero, through to Funniest Teams Moment (and there were many) and Helping Hand Award, nominees were recognised for their contribution to their own success and that of others.

Throughout lockdown, Deon Wong (FdA Visitor Attraction and Resort Management) has strived to use his free time effectively, whether that be developing new key skills or taking advantage of learning opportunities. To maintain his level of creativity and imagination, he took the time to produce a unique online competitive gameshow, allowing a diverse range of people, to compete against each other in a variety of social, physical and strategic challenges. As Deon says:

“The project allowed me to challenge myself through innovative designing, planning and executing a live-event. Hosting involves a depth of planning, time management, problem-solving and technical skills. The skills accumulated, have been evident in my academic work, where I have demonstrated a range of skills. I’ve also been a contestant myself, developing my strategic-thinking, communication and observational skills, when evaluating my opponent’s social behaviour. The knowledge gained can be applied to future opportunities, for instance, marketing as it involves analysing customers behaviours.”

For Tom Murray (FdA Visitor Attraction and Resort Management), lockdown has been anything but a hindrance. Despite multiple lockdowns and cancellation to events his endeavour to remain a lifelong learner has continued to flourish. In the first lockdown, he was able to completely redesign his website from a mobile friendly site to a fully-fledged mobile web app. Not only did he learn the necessary skills to design, develop and test his site, but also the business skills to set targets and reasonable goals and measure achievement…Throughout summer he continued his employment at Alton Towers Resort with the Rides department and continued to grow existing and new skills (like shouting with masks and visors on!) which enabled him to hit the ground running with the start of his first year studying Visitor Attractions and Resort Management.

Tom says “Like the rest of us, I’ve also had to get to grips with Teams meetings, interviews, lectures and everything in-between but it’ll certainly be a valuable skill in the future!” 

For Business Management students, studying ‘Managing Across Cultures’ could potentially be a challenge in the current situation, where access to, and immersion in, national cultures is restricted. Not so for the current Level 5 cohort undertaking this module. They will be heading off, virtually of course, to KAMK University of Applied Sciences in Finland for 2 days in March, to explore how organisations are ‘Going Global’. In addition, the same students will also be heading to Stuttgart in Germany, again in March, to attend an international business simulation, organized by DHBW (Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart – Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University, Stuttgart). Those virtual passport stamps just keep on coming!

Studying Visitor Attraction and Resort Management is about so much more than rollercoasters, as evidenced by our students’ engagement in the recent Institute of Hospitality and Manchester Hoteliers Association virtual student forum – Passion 4 Hospitality. The 90-minute webinar discussed and reviewed the merits and rewards of the global hospitality industry, with a high-profile panel discussing career opportunities available this year. The keynote speaker was Matt Townley FIH, GM of the Dakota Hotel Manchester, with his focus on “The road to being a GM in your 30’s”. The panel comprised Adrian Ellis FIH, GM The Lowry Hotel, Manchester and Chair of the Manchester Hospitality Association; Steven Hesketh, CEO at Savvy Hotel Group and Vice Chair of Liverpool Hospitality Association, Chair of Chester Hospitality Association, Board Member of the Liverpool Enterprise Partnership Employment & Skills Board; Sue Davison, Head of Apprenticeship, Sodexo; and Q&A moderated by Peter Ducker, Chief Executive FIH. Also in attendance, and discussing student opportunities in the north of England was Garry Fortune, Melia Hotels Regional General Manager.

Their enthusiasm and passion for the industry really shone through, and in Dylan’s words, [it was]

“Fantastic to have an insight on the challenges and methods to achieve well in the hospitality industry”.

Tom also commented,

“One of the main things I took away from the webinar was the amount of opportunities the Hospitality sector can provide. Learning about Matt Townley’s journey to becoming manager of the Dakota Hotel was really inspiring”.

This was supported by a passionate statement from Chloe who said

“One thing I learned from this webinar that really resonated with me, was when Matt Townley touched on striving to find your specialism and niche within the hospitality industry, which can be done by having a well-planned strategy and having that passion to achieve your goals”.

Tom and Steven also commented on the forum, noting the importance of mentoring, the idea that attitude, passion and desire to learn is vitally important to success in industry and that “complacency has negative impacts and should be avoided to ensure you are always on top of your game or proactive to resolve issues”.

An often-underestimated attribute, the importance of emotional intelligence was acknowledged by industry leaders. As Jade says, “It’s an underestimated skill which is critical in leadership roles and, recognising this will improve employability in the industry in ways that I can’t wait to witness”.

Both Lucy and Ella noted the importance of identifying a route through to your dream job:

Lucy –  “it was really good to listen to the fact that they’re pointing out how if you want to work for a brand, anyway you can you should get involved, and it may not be in the role you want but you can climb up and get there with time and hard work”.

Ella – “learning more about the hospitality industry has gave me an insight on what career paths I can take down that route, what I can do to be successful whether it is in my job role or applying to future jobs within the industry and it was lovely to see another person’s point of view of how they gained success through the hospitality industry. I can use this information on future assessments or in general to help me become successful in the career I would like”.

What’s more, look at how useful and versatile our Staffordshire Business School hoodies are – especially at protecting against the elements!

For Heather Wingfield (FdA Visitor Attraction and Resort Management) lockdown has simply been an opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills and gain those micro-credentials that are so important for employability enhancement. As Heather herself states:

“The pandemic has presented me with the opportunity to spend lots of time investing in myself. I have been keeping busy by carrying out extra learning, which has provided brilliant insights into the Visitor Attraction Industry. The cancellation of in person events has allowed students to access a range of industry events and webinars from home, at no or little cost, for the first time. For example, the IAAPA and Blooloop Virtual Expos. These events have proven to be invaluable and have allowed me to build my network with students and professionals from around the world, even in a time when we can’t travel. Another great way to network during these difficult times is to join an industry association, for example IAAPA (The International Association for Amusement Parks and Attractions). I have found they also have a wide range of resources which have enabled me to improve my commercial awareness.

I have also been able to build my knowledge by completing a Certificate in Post Crisis Hospitality Management for free due to the pandemic, this would usually cost $250. As well as improving my knowledge, I have developed skills such as time management and organisational skills. These opportunities have helped me realise the importance of being a lifelong learner, one of the Staffordshire Graduate Competencies in the University’s new Employability Framework. I anticipate that these opportunities to invest in myself will improve my employability and enable me to become a global citizen.”

The 5 most useful things I learnt during my time at university, that I use running my own business.

That beautiful lady you see in the picture there is me. I like to toot my own horn, because if I don’t know how to show myself love, no one will know to follow suite haha.. I digress..

My name is Tanaka Adeyemo and I am the founder of Rudorwaishe Ltd which is named after my beautiful little girl (also in the picture). We provide tools to help families of the African diaspora teach the languages of their heritage to the younger generation. We currently have flashcards available in six African languages which you can check out on our site here, and I am working on adding more languages this year.

The business has a charitable side to it and donates 10% to a charity I will be involved in. My hope is that this will increase to 50% over time as we grow. The Charity I am currently working on building with two other women will focus on supporting orphaned and/or abandoned children in Zimbabwe particularly because of the AIDS pandemic. We have acquired 20 acres of land and we are gearing up to launch a massive fundraising campaign to build a large-scale orphanage on that land. It’s massive, it’s scary as anything but it’s all very important work.

My time at university seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye. There are a few seeds that were planted while I was there that I now spend a lot of time nurturing and building into the work I do, and I wanted to share those with you all. There are 5 super useful things I learnt in university that I now make use in my day to day when it comes to my business and life in general. Of course, this is not everything I learnt but it’s what sticks out for me and I’m just going to run through them in no particular order…


As you can imagine this one is pretty important. I am a mother now so planning is something I do in my sleep but when it comes to business there needs to be a deeper level of planning that happens even prior to initiation. A business plan (although not always necessary) is something that I found can be useful in planning your business. I’m going to keep it real with you, I didn’t put a business plan together when it came to my business (and I still haven’t) but I planned ahead as much as I possibly could. I completed the research I needed in order to know whether or not my business was even viable. I then went ahead and looked at all aspects of my business in as much detail as I could at the time and put pen to paper, wrote down as much as I could about the marketing strategy, pricing model, start-up costs, design work etc – you get the drift. There will always be a lot you learn from just doing but planning is key to having a successful start to any business. You cannot jump in blind and expect to make a million pounds in your first year. Similarly, with the charity a lot of planning has been going on even prior to us setting up officially and has been so key in understanding exactly what we are about to dive into. It’s the reason I can say it’s a massive and also extremely scary project we are taking on!

2. Networking

Ever heard that saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” or even “your network is your net worth”? Yeah! That all starts in university (or way before for some people). There are so many people that I met in my time at university that I now work with, am close friends with and one that is Godfather to my daughter. Learning to network is so key and using university as your learning ground is something I would highly recommend. Build that networking muscle from early and regularly work on it because that will serve you so well when you leave university. I always saw myself as someone who was shy when I was at university. Talking to people wasn’t always something I found easy (still don’t), but I did and do push myself. Honestly speaking, if I were to redo my time in university this is definitely something I would do more of, so I 1000% encourage you to get out there (virtually for most at the moment of course) and get to ‘met’ a whole lot of different people however that may be.

3. Authenticity

There is no one that will ever be better at being you than you are! It is so important to remember to be yourself and do what feels right to you even in business. I have really learnt the importance of this during the time I have been running Rudorwaishe. People will do things differently and may seem to be more successful than you, but you have to ‘stay in your lane’ and remember what makes you, you. That will shine through in your business and in life. You will thrive a lot more because things will come naturally. Of course you can gain inspiration from a variety of sources but that does not mean you should copy and paste.

I always describe myself as someone who is HOT… Honest, Open, Transparent… and I constantly try to remind myself of this in all that I do. University can be very confusing and can be a place where you are still trying to find your feet and so it’s difficult to always be open and transparent (or at least I found it was). All I would say is, as long as you are being honest with yourself and those around you then that’s a good start. My advice? Learn about yourself and all the amazing (and not so amazing) things that make up who you are. This will serve you well in life after university, whether you decide to start your own business or not.

4. A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset, simply put, is the belief that you can develop and improve your basic abilities through hard work, discipline, and dedication. Without it you do not put in the work you need to in order to progress and you remain stuck. Having a growth mindset means you are more likely to take risks and you welcome challenges as they are an opportunity to learn and develop. As a result, you are always trying new things, building new skills and experiencing a lot more due to not having that ‘fear of making mistakes’ that occurs when you have a fixed mindset.

I have not always had a growth mindset although it always ‘called out to me’ so to speak. Getting to where I am today in relation to my mindset has required (and still does require) me putting in a lot of work to change my thinking and be more ‘can do’ rather than ‘it’s not possible’. I used to be the one who would find every excuse not to do something all because of fear and it stopped me from going for the things I wanted. I decided to spend time developing myself because I wanted more. This all started for me in university when I met some amazing people who really showed me what a growth mindset was – without knowing they were doing so may I add – and how it can be a great benefit.

Your mindset is the difference between success and failure in anything. If you want to do better, then you must be better, and it all starts with your mind. Be Positive.

5. Mental Health Awareness

This is something that not a lot of people know about, but when I was in university I really struggled with my mental health. A lot of past trauma came back up while I was in university and I went through some really difficult moments for one reason or another. I went through so many emotions and drank a little bit too much (here’s me being honest, maybe a little too much) and so I turned to the services that Uni offered and saw a counsellor. I will tell you now, that was the most painful and annoying first experience of therapy but, it was there that I realised I suffered from depression and anxiety and there was a lot of mental health work I needed to do to get myself better.

Now being of African heritage, talking about mental health is not something that is common and used to be something of a taboo subject (still is in some communities), so there was a lot of learning I had to do around mental health.

I started my business during a pandemic, my husband was shot four months after I officially launched in a freak incident (he’s doing okay now thankfully), I had a mental breakdown, got myself back together and somehow still managed to keep the business going. Those seeds that were planted during my time at university with that counsellor, the relationships I cultivated through networking, the planning ahead that I did for my business which I learnt about in university, the mindset I have been working on since university, all of it served me so well in one of my most challenging moments in life and in business to date.

There is a lot that goes into starting up and running your own business. There is the theory that you get taught in your course which is what helps you get started and there is also the lived experience you get from your time at university that helps strengthen who you are as a person. All of it is part of your success story. So I guess what I am trying to say in a long winded way is, make the absolute most of your university experience however it may look at this moment and take every opportunity given to you! Utilise the university resources (heck, max them out if you have to) and get to know the people that can help you be great.

Putting that work in while you are at university will only serve you well in the future and it may not even be in the ways that you think.

One last thing from me.. I know the business name can be a bit of a tongue twister but it’s important to me that people learn it, it is my daughter’s Zimbabwean name after all. So check out the image and let that R in the middle just rrrroll off your tongue 😊!

Want to connect with me? Click any of the links below and say hey!

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Staffordshire Business School students making a positive impact with peer mentoring

Professor Vish Maheshwari, Associate Dean, Staffordshire Business School

Having a helping hand available as a friend, a peer or a fellow student who could provide guidance and advice or even act as a sounding board is critically important part of a student journey. This peer member may be a fellow student from within one’s own course or an interdisciplinary programme but perhaps studying at different level, mostly a year or two above. Although, operating within a formal mentoring scheme, such peers act in a very informal and casual manner and could be the first point of contact for students, outside of formal classroom and academic support, as they are able to share their own lived experiences. They are able to guide fellow peers on ‘what had worked and not for them’ in a practical manner that can be very helpful. It is credibly established logic where lived experiences are found to be most effective positive guide than some of the conceptual or prescribed advice.

Peer mentoring is not new but is still a novel approach in an education setting and has become an increasingly used practice amongst university students across many higher education institutions. The practice has led to some very positive impact on student experience generally, and more specifically in providing ‘scaffolding’ approach for many students in building their confidence, communication skills and becoming resilient. Peer mentoring also helps with students gaining self-belief and motivation to continue with studies and thrive as one progresses successfully through different stages of a university course.

Staffordshire Business School students are currently involved in a peer mentoring scheme, with student mentors trained and supported by academics, university’s guidance and careers teams. The peer mentoring is aimed at engaging students at all levels, helping with building self-confidence, communication and social skills, networks and more importantly meeting new people by making most of their university time. There is also an added benefit of exploring potential academic and career development opportunities a result. Positive impact of peers is noticeable, especially given the unprecedented circumstances and challenges, within higher education, due to the pandemic. The student engagement with host of activities, in addition to the academic sessions, has been remarkable.

For example, during Staffordshire Business School’s recently organised Creativity and Innovation week, involvement and participation from our students across all courses was remarkable. Alongside academics, peer mentors and student representatives played an important role in encouraging students across the school to participate with various activities planned during this week. As a result, throughout the week, students engaged actively with variety of skills development workshops, Microsoft, Google and LinkedIn learning led digital insights seminars and business engagement sessions. It was a pleasure to note that the lead taken by peers has rubbed off on positively amongst diverse fellow student groups. Additionally, a group of our final year students recently organised and successfully hosted a mid-year virtual ‘Celebrating Success Awards’ ceremony, in order to celebrate success where it has been most deserved amongst students. The awards were voted for and by students, with nominations put forward by fellow students and judged by Department/School student representatives, it was a very successful event that had excellent student body participation throughout.

Overall, peer mentors and mentees have demonstrated a real desire to step up and build a thriving community of students that is confident, resilient with a strong determination to become successful graduates.

Awareness and Corporate Social Responsibility

Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School

Almost never a day goes by, when we aren’t reminded that “today” is National, International or even Global “something” awareness day or week or month. From the ever-popular Christmas Jumper day to my own particular favourite – National Squirrel Appreciation Day (!), from National Allotment week to Fairtrade fortnight to National Bed month.

All of these campaigns are designed to raise awareness and/or funds for some serious and not so serious issues. So, why as a business, would you want to know this?

Firstly, all businesses have basic ethical and legal responsibilities; however, the most successful businesses establish a strong foundation of corporate citizenship, showing a commitment to ethical behaviour by creating a balance between the needs of shareholders and the needs of the community and environment in the surrounding area. These practices help bring in consumers and establish brand and company loyalty.

It is considered normal for businesses to balance the other stakeholders’ needs with those of the shareholders during the decision-making process. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goes even further, making the general public a stakeholder and shows that the business wishes to actively improve things for everyone.

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For any business making a profit is still key and, of course, the needs of employees, customers and suppliers must be satisfied if the business is to survive. However, Corporate Social Responsibility has become far more important over the last few decades with consumers worrying about how the products they buy were made and how companies that they buy from are run. On many company websites there will be narratives of how they look after the environment and all the CSR initiatives of which they are a part.

Corporate social responsibility comes in many forms. Even the smallest company impacts social change by making a simple donation to a local food bank. Some of the most common examples of CSR include:

  • Reducing carbon footprints
  • Improving labour policies
  • Participating in Fairtrade
  • Charitable giving
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Corporate policies that benefit the environment
  • Socially and environmentally conscious investments

The growing popularity of National Awareness Days can tap into these initiatives helping a company both internally and externally.

One internal perspective is if your employees can see that the business is taking a caring approach, by raising funds for charity for instance, involving the staff may mean that they become more motivated to engage with each other working towards a common goal. In fact, whilst “Wear a Christmas Jumper to Work” day seems an opportunity to raise a smile amongst colleagues as we approach the long dark winter months, the serious aspect is that the jumper wearers are raising money for a great cause.

Another perspective is using “Awareness Days” to help a business promote their product or service (all the better if this can also highlight the CSR approach taken by the company). The issues can make an ideal marketing tool for a business, providing inspiration for marketing content.

By adding context to an awareness day, a business can plan their content by linking a day to their product or service, so for example an artisan baker could showcase their expertise and knowledge during Real Bread Week, or a nutritionist could use National Allotment Week to encourage healthy and organic eating whilst promoting their own healthy eating programme.

It’s not just about direct promotion though. Awareness days can provide a great opportunity for a business to engage in conversation with future consumers via social media using hashtags associated with the cause, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This will allow people to find and contact you, consequently building your audience.

From engaging with employees to good PR to corporate social responsibility, supporting a national awareness day is a great way to show which values are important to you and your business. It can differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to build partnerships with charities and organisations that share your beliefs. With the potential to build trust as well as give a little back, it’s a win-win situation for all.

Become a responsible leader of global business.

Do you want to be at the forefront of modern enterprise? Our BA (Hons) Business Management and Sustainability course challenges the traditional interpretations of enterprise and will open your mind to a broad range of contemporary themes in business.

Our emphasis on ethical business and sustainability will position you to create long-lasting value for your organisation and you will learn the practical skills needed to become a responsible business leader.