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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRsJbpppvEU). 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 fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.

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 https://www.staffsunion.com/ents/event/16189/, 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 www.facebook.com/TogetherAtHomeChallengeStaffsUni2021 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…

1.Planning

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!

Instagram, Website, LinkedIn

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.

Image Source: www.growthbusiness.co.uk

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.

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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.

Behind the Curtain – Organising The Staffordshire Business School Celebrating Success Awards 2021

On 28th January, myself (Ben Cooke), Lia Bover Armstrong and Cerys Chilton hosted the Celebrating Student Success awards for the Staffordshire University Business School. The event was a fun-packed, exciting evening which praised students for their outstanding efforts over the last year. The three of us thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to host the event and have decided to compile a short Q&A in order to offer “a glimpse behind the curtain”.

How did you work together as a team?

CC: This was our first time working together as a team and I felt we worked well. It was an amazing opportunity to develop skills and knowledge, by working with people I don’t normally work with. It also benefitted me learning where I fit in with different types of people’s work styles. In the beginning we managed to delegate roles amongst ourselves to help plan the event. Considering the short period of time to conduct the event, we successfully used each other’s previous experiences in the event industry to decide roles in planning the event. Working with people you don’t necessarily know is going to be a part of any industry, in particular events, being thrown into a challenging task has built my confidence in communication. Throughout the planning of the event, the role of Team Leader transferred to different individuals throughout the stages of the event, depending on factors that we had to consider and manage. For example, Ben managed a lot of the technological side of the event and Lia managed the communications via email. This opportunity gave us a real-life experience of the industry we all hope to go into, and I feel our joint appreciation for this motivated us all to succeed in the project.

What challenges did you face during the planning process?

LBA: Thankfully, there weren’t many challenges we had to face, but I think Ben and Cerys can agree with me that having to meet virtually and having a short amount of time to plan everything was a bit stressful, as getting information across is slower that if you were meeting face to face. However, it was a good way to learn how to work in a team with people you don’t usually work with; to see what it would be like to work in the events industry during these current times where you must work from home even if you are part of a team; and that there is always a solution for everything, even if that means getting out of your comfort zone.

What challenges did you face throughout the event and how did you deal with them?

BC: Being on the technical role, using a new software was challenging. It took a bit of playing around to get used to it, but with a bit of practice it became easy. I would say the challenge using StreamYard throughout the event would be changing from screen to screen to share content for the viewers. This task takes a lot of patience as the software might play up at certain times due to the pace you are trying to change the visuals at. In order for the viewer not to realise the delay, we used the private chat not visible to the attendees in order to inform Lia and Cerys that there was a technical issue and to keep the content rolling in order to fill any gaps. This was a useful tool as it appeared to the viewer as a seamless transition.

What went well?

CC: As previously mentioned, we worked well as team and we delegated roles efficiently according to our skills. On the night we worked well as a team, as well through the private chat box to ensure that everyone was okay. Where needed gaps were filled and any crisis were quickly solved, for example if there was a delay, me and Lia as hosts would continue to chat and talk to prevent awkward silences. The creative ideas we came up with for the awards ceremony such as the use of Mentimeter and a short acoustic performance from Mick Williams were a success, engaging with the audience. The use of StreamYard was also successful as we could see the engagement of the stream as we were hosting and could refer to the comments throughout the live stream.

How would you improve and what have you learnt from this?  

BC: If we were to host a similar event again, I would use a computer with two screens to change visuals over at a quicker pace. Due to being under lockdown restrictions, I only had the one screen available which caused a slight delay in proceedings to get the content on the stream. Despite this point I would possibly look down other routes of streaming software. StreamYard can be slightly limited in the content you can share on the screen, so further research into similar software would be a great idea.

What advice would you give to people hosting an online event?

LBA: Make the most of it and make sure you give yourselves enough time to plan it all. Enjoy every second of the whole process and just be positive and optimistic about it all. Get yourself out of your comfort zone, even if it feels scary at first, and don’t let it get to you if something doesn’t work straight away because it’s normal and even the biggest events out there have technical issues and learn from those experiences.

Papi’s Pizzas

A quick and easy guide to making Nutella ® pizzas and chatting about setting up a Pizzeria

Friday 5th February is #WorldNutellaDay

Papi Paul (Paul Dobson) has had extensive experience in supporting the hospitality trade, including the successful start-up and running of pizza restaurant and takeaways, both here in the UK and France.

On Friday 5th February, 1pm-2pm, Paul will be delivering a pizza making demo and chat which will cover a quick and easy way to make Nutella® pizzas and discuss the start-up and running of a pizzeria.

Share your passion for Nutella ® with a tweet by adding the tag @nutelladay and the hashtag #worldnutelladay. Become a follower of @nutelladay on Twitter, connect at nutelladay.com and share your World Nutella ® Day images on Instagram and Pinterest and tag your photos or stories using the hashtag #WorldNutellaDay.

Paul’s session will be delivered on Microsoft Teams. To join the session, click the following link at 1pm on Friday 5th February:

JOIN PAPI PAUL’S NUTELLA PIZZA MAKING SESSION

To take part in making your very own Nutella Pizza, you will need the following:

Ingredients :-
500g OO flour, plus extra to dust
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 tbsp semolina, to press out

Equipment:
mixing bowl
wooden spoon
baking tray/pizza stone 
Oven at 220 degrees.

Financial Crimes – The Vulnerable, The Gullible, and The Culpable

Olushola Fashola, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business SChool


Nuthall (2019) asserted that the United Nations estimates that between 2% and 5% (US$800bn–US$2trillion) of global GDP is laundered. The year 2019 saw global anti-money laundering (AML) penalties going beyond £6billion (actual value was £6.2billion which is equivalent to around $8billion), with the US imposing double the quantum of fines imposed by UK authorities (Sweet, 2020). These facts suggests financial crimes is on the rise, which is a worrying development for societies, governments, organisations, and individuals. It is therefore important that some sort of reflection (collectively or individually) be undertaken by all concerned regarding how things have deteriorated to current level in terms of emerging global narrative on financial crime. Consequently, my own lived experience within a socio-economic and institutional context offers a basis for looking at financial crime through the multiple lens of three actors – “the vulnerable”, “the gullible” and “the culpable”.

THE VULNERABLE

Some years back I was looking through job advertisements on various websites, hoping to find a flexible job that will permit me to spend more time with my young children. I did not search too long before I came across one placed by a supposedly US based company. Though, the role was described as Administrative Assistant, the job description was more of a home-based funds transfer officer. Considering that I have practice experience in banking and finance, I quickly applied and was very optimistic as to my chances of eventually getting the job. Just as I had anticipated, I was offered the job. However, mode of operation triggered some curiosity – the company will pay money into my account which I shall subsequently transfer to various recipients!

THE GULLIBLE

The unusual nature of the responsibilities attached to this job role sent alarm bells ringing. I contacted the website where I found the job to let them know of my suspicion that something was not quite right about this company and the job. The website’s initial response was to dismiss my suspicion, suggesting there was nothing unusual about either the company or the job. Whilst pondering as to the genuineness or otherwise of this job offer, I listened to the BBC money box programme focused on money mules. This made the connection between this job offer and money mule operations vividly clear. I contacted the website again, now aware of the prospect of being used as a money mule based on what I have learnt from the BBC programme. This time, the response was an apology and commitment to bar the company from using the website. Prioritisation of corporate social responsibility can help reduce the chances of financial fraud occurring (Liao et al., 2019).   

THE CULPABLE

Whilst I did not allow this company the opportunity to pay any money into my bank account, I wonder how many people they had successfully persuaded into accepting such payments through their banks. The banking industry is central to economic growth and development, but also remains a vital part of the carefully orchestrated dastardly design of financial crimes’ architecture. The growing evidence against banks with respect to recurring culpability in facilitating financial crimes is a worrying trend that compounds erosion of public trust in them since the financial crisis of 2008/2009. Sanctions imposed on banks (see below) for offences with a bearing on financial crimes bears testimony to banking industry’s culpability.

Feb 2014: Standard Bank PLC fined £7.6m for failures in its anti-money laundering controls (BBC, 2014)

May 2015: Barclays fined $2.4bn for forex rigging (Financial Times, 2015)

June 2015: HSBC pays out £28m “compensation” to Swiss authorities over money-laundering claims (The Guardian, 2015)

November 2015: Barclays Bank (Barclays) was fined £72,069,400 for failing to minimise the risk that it may be used to facilitate financial crime by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (FCA, 2015)

December 2019: HSBC to pay $192m penalty in US for helping clients hide $1billion dollar worth of assets for tax evasion purpose (Financial Times, 2019).

Financial service regulators may have demonstrated a commitment to ensuring banks do not act as facilitators of financial crimes through these sanctions, but the inherent culpability of the financial regulatory system in certain jurisdictions means that these fines do not address why they have become a magnet for financial crime. The public prosecutor in the HSBC/Swiss regulator case as cited in The Guardian (2015) sums up the real source of financial service industry culpability in financial crime thus:

“When we have a law that doesn’t punish financial intermediaries accepting doubtful funds then we have a problem. This problem dates from long before the HSBC affair.”

REFLECTION ON EVIDENCE

Criminals adept at committing financial crimes often targets the vulnerable. They are also very clever at deciphering individual vulnerabilities. Unemployment was a vulnerability ready to be exploited in this case. However, various other vulnerabilities can be the focus of the ploy of these criminals. For instance, search for acceptance and love (BBC 2020), desire to help others and outright greed, are a mix of vulnerabilities often exploited by advance fee (otherwise called “419”) fraudsters.

Individuals or organisations should not think they are above gullibility when it comes to financial crimes. The website involved in this case is a subsidiary to one of the major global online platforms. Yet their vetting process allowed this job advertisement to be placed; and initial response to contacting them laid bare their gullibility – a failure in their social responsibility obligation to society!

Banking industry and its regulatory framework remains an important defence line in society’s response to combating financial crime (Ryder, 2017). A basic line of defence where banks had in the past dropped their guards is with respect to “Know Your Customer” (KYC). This important anti-money laundering requirement needs full compliance for the global fight against financial crime to be successful. Specifically, a risk-based approach to KYC practice can help operators in the financial services industry balance regulatory compliance with business exigencies. Such an approach can help focus attention on potentially risky clients such as the politically exposed person (popularly referred to as PEP). The need for some sort of global regulatory alignment to ensure that there are no safe havens for illicit wealth (Nance, 2018) will require every nation to review its laws and ensure that loopholes exploited by financial criminals and their intermediaries are plugged.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Fraud triangle comprising of opportunity, incentive/pressure, and rationalization (Cressey, 1953) had received wide scholarly attention, it is perhaps time we switched attention to actors whose moral gap facilitates financial crime. Vulnerability, gullibility, and culpability represents a collection of attributes that helps financial crime to spread like wildfire and the criminals that benefit from them to take the rest of society for granted. Hence, the need for every individual and organization to undertake a self-assessment as to whether they may be tacitly facilitating financial crime as a vulnerable, gullible, or culpable actor in a dark web that leaves society morally and economically bankrupt.


REFERENCES

BBC (2014) Standard Bank fined over lax anti-money laundering controls. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25864499 (Accessed 18/12/2020).

BBC (2020) Covid: Romance fraudsters ‘target lonely’ in lockdown. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54855321 (Accessed 04/01/2020)

Cressey, D. (1953) Other People’s Money. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Financial Conduct Authority (2015) FCA fines Barclays £72 million for poor handling of financial crime risks. Available at: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-fines-barclays-%C2%A372-million-poor-handling-financial-crime-risks (Accessed 18/12/2020)

Financial Times (2015) Barclays fined $2.4bn for forex rigging. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/a255cd2a-fef8-11e4-84b2-00144feabdc0 (Accessed 18/12/2020).

Financial Times (2019) HSBC to pay $192m penalty in US tax evasion case. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/e7d51ec4-1b99-11ea-97df-cc63de1d73f4 (Accessed 18/12/2020)

Liao, L., Chen, G. and Zheng, D. (2019) Corporate social responsibility and financial fraud: evidence from China. Accounting & Finance, 59(5), pp.3133-3169.

Nance, M.T. (2018) The regime that FATF built: an introduction to the Financial Action Task Force. Crime, Law and Social Change, 69(2), pp.109-129.

Nuthall, K. (2019) FATF’s new guidelines on tackling money laundering. Accounting and Business magazine, November (Chinese Edition). Available at: https://www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/member/discover/cpd-articles/governance-risk-control/fatf-cpdnov19.html#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20United%20Nations,of%20global%20GDP%20is%20laundered.&text=Accountants%20assisting%20with%20property%20purchases,been%20laundered%20into%20legitimate%20accounts. (Accessed 18/12/2020).

Ryder, N. (2017) The financial crisis and financial crime in the United Kingdom: A critical analysis of the response by Financial Regulatory Agencies. The Company Lawyer, 38(1), pp.4-14.

Sweet, P. (2020) Global anti-money laundering fines top £6bn. Accountancy Age publication of 17 January 2020. Available at: https://www.accountancydaily.co/global-anti-money-laundering-fines-top-ps6bn (Accessed 18/12/2020).

The Guardian (2015) HSBC pays out £28m over money-laundering claims. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/04/hsbc-fined-278m-over-money-laundering-claims (Accessed 18/12/2020)


Discover how accounting and finance underpins modern enterprise in our BA (Hons) Finance and Business Enterprise.

Staffordshire Business School Creativity and Innovation Week – w/c 18th January 2021

Creativity and Innovation Week offers students a huge variety of sessions delivered by academics from both Staffordshire Business School and the School of Digital, Technologies and Arts along with some fantastic guest speakers.

As well as our keynote presenter, Ian Reid – Chief Executive of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, we will also be welcoming the team from Alton Towers, including Janet Gurr – Hotels and Accommodation Development Director, Neil Crittenden – Commercial Director, Jo Mountney – Divisional People Partner/HR Director and Jason Mumford – Senior Recruitment and Learning & Development Manager.

The Creativity and Innovation Week 2021 is also an ideal opportunity for you to gain additional micro-credentials to enhance your employability. Use this time to take a MOS exam in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, or perhaps even all four. This will also help you to save time in future assessments through the use of appropriate presentation tools and shortcuts to complete assessment tasks. There are also 11 LinkedIn short courses embedded into the programme.

To view the full schedule of sessions, click below: