Volunteering at the Stone Food Festival

By Grace Hurst L6 Events Management student

As the first weekend of October approaches, it’s not just the locals who anticipate The Stone Food and Drink Festival every year. After going virtual in 2020, with no live events taking place at all, it was a pleasure to volunteer at this year’s 2021 festival. Volunteering opportunities have been sparse over the last 18 months and many small businesses have taken a huge hit, meaning many events need all the help they can get, so I’m here to talk about my experience and how to get involved as an event volunteer yourself!

Stone Food and Drink Festival is located at Westbridge park in Stone and has been running since 2004. It’s a not-for-profit community event that supports local businesses, giving them a platform to showcase what they do and providing a fun filled event celebrating all things food and drink. The festival has a wide range of options to suit anyone, from local craft beers and liqueurs to street food and desserts in the Gourmet Marquee (which can all be enjoyed alongside volunteering!).

Grace (centre) in the Chefs demonstration tent
Grace (centre) in the Chefs demonstration tent

I represented Staffordshire University as an event marshal and as a third-year events management student. I spent the majority of the day networking with local businesses in and around Stone or helping out at the Demonstration Kitchen and the Talks and Tastings tent. This included encouraging guests to join the live events in each tent, handing out samples and being a friendly face for attendees to approach and ask general questions to.

The vendors and organisers were grateful to have a helping hand on the day and it was a lot of fun being able to watch demonstrations from business owners and to gain an insight to what an event looks like behind the scenes.

Tent
There is a huge amount of cover at the festival which means even with rain people can have a great time
Flamin’ Rooster is just one of many great food stalls at the event

Small Business Spotlight

  • Joules –Joules Brewery are the main sponsor for the festival, who have recently opened a new venue called The Crown Wharf which opened in July 2021 and is located on Crown Street in Stone. The taphouse has become extremely popular with locals due to the friendly staff, lively atmosphere and of course, great beer! The new project also aims to bring a community theatre to the establishment calledThe Crown Wharf Theatre as there is currently no purpose-built event space in Stone where local arts and community groups can join to enhance their creativity and passions. They are looking for volunteers here.
  • Ten Green Bottles – Ten Green Bottles is a gin and craft beer bar who currently have two venues in Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Stone. The business attended the festival to talk the latest drink trends alongside Stafford Distillery, sharing their knowledge of quality cocktails and recommending the best ingredients. As well as handing out samples of their cocktail containing lychee gin infused with passionfruit liqueur and tonic (yum!), they also had a pop-up bar and a stall to purchase their products from. To check out all things cocktail, visit their websites linked.
Gin bar
Gin bar

Community events such as this one are so rewarding to volunteer at, as well as being a lot of fun to be a part of, particularly for students interested in areas such as events management like myself. At the event I gained valuable experience to put into practice at future events I either volunteer at or host myself and am looking forward to the next project! If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for next year or just want to attend yourself as a guest, visit Stone Food and Drink Festival’s website

If you’re a student at Staffordshire University looking for volunteer opportunities ask your tutors and try the Careers service

Get in touch with Grace through her linkedin profile

Beth’s guide to Stoke and Staffordshire

By Beth Bairstow-Morris

Staffordshire University is my home university, and, in September, I’ll be heading into my third and final year of BA (Hons) Events Management. Having lived in Staffordshire for almost all my life, I’ve tried and tested the best places for students to eat, drink and visit, and I’m here to tell you all about them!

Let’s start with some on-campus student union run facilities and the two favourite hangouts for my uni friends and I: Ember Lounge and Squeeze Box. Ember Lounge serves classic pub food and drinks and is the perfect place to spend a break from studying or grab some food with friends after a day of lectures. Squeeze Box is my favourite place to head for a bite to eat in the morning, along with either a takeout coffee or one of their infamous freshly squeezed orange juices or smoothies!

Lots of individual shops as well as events and gardens to see at Trentham Gardens
Lots of individual shops as well as events and gardens to see at Trentham Gardens

Moving on, we have the lovely Trentham Estate, an important local attraction to mention for many reasons. Firstly, their Event Volunteer programme, if nobody has told you already, it won’t be long before your lecturers and industry pros are emphasising the importance of volunteering to gain experience ready for your placement and graduate job applications, whatever course you’re taking. Trentham have a fantastic volunteer programme and last year I successfully applied and have worked on several events including the Christmas Fairy Lights experience, the summer concerts and market research for Trentham Live 2022!

With so many events, restaurants and attractions on offer, Trentham Estate is a great place to head for a day or evening out with friends and a fantastic place to catch up with family when they come to visit. Who wouldn’t love a trip to the Monkey Forest to get away from assignments for a while!? There’s even a Premier Inn on site you can recommend to your parents so they don’t have to crash in your flat!

A few weeks back, I headed to The Crepe & Waffle House in the Shopping Village for a catchup with my Aunty, which certainly suited both our sweet tastes!

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are filled with arts and culture, so what better place to take you to next than the Cultural Quarter in Hanley? Piccadilly and the surrounding area are home to a variety of entertainment venues including The Regent Theatre, showcasing phenomenal touring productions, and The Sugarmill, a great place to head to for local music and small gigs, as well as some great restaurants and cafes like The Slamwich Club and The Quarter.

Most recently, I visited The Quarter for lunch with my friend. Their menu is split into a Daytime Menu and an Evening Menu and the range of options is HUGE, with traditional classics, all-day breakfast and brunch and even Mediterranean style platters! I ordered the egg and salmon sourdough from the all-day brunch menu and my friend had the battered cod with chunky chips from the selection of main dishes. (My friend said she was still dreaming of the battered cod days later!)

Just a little further along in the Cultural Quarter, you’ll find the Mitchell Arts Centre, a small local theatre with a Café-Bar and even a dance studio and meeting rooms to hire. As someone who’s heavily involved in the local amateur theatre scene, I’ve spent a LOT of time here: watching performances, taking part in performances and volunteering (yes, more volunteering!) as Marketing & Events Officer for Stoke Amateur Theatre Society.

Last but not least, it would be incredibly remiss of me to not mention the UK’s largest theme park, the Alton Towers Resort. Of course, this is a GREAT place to have right on your doorstep, whether that’s for a thrilliant day out with friends or for some fantastical escapism with the family when they visit. You can find some great student offers on admission here!

It’s also a great place to work as student, with plenty of seasonal opportunities on offer, particularly if you are studying Events Management or Visitor Attraction & Resort Management. I currently work as a Team Leader on the Guest Excellence Team and have gained invaluable experience and loved every minute of working at the Resort!

For Events in Autumn 2021 have a look at Jon Fairburn’s blog by clicking here


University wide clearing – 0800 590 830

Courses available in clearing at the Business School

Call our friendly team of Clearing experts on 0800 590 830 who are on hand to support you through the process, or sign up to one of our free events: www.staffs.ac.uk/clearing

Events for Autumn 2021 in Staffordshire

Here’s a pick of some of the great events available if you are joining us at Staffordshire University this Autumn. There’s also a list of venues and other information sources at the end for more events

Sept

3-5th Trentham Live featuring McFly, The Vamps and Alfie Boe at Trentham Gardens

7th Nick Cave and Warren Ellis at the Regent Theatre

11th Sept to 17th October British Ceramics Biennial , all things ceramics with events all over the city. The main location is the Good Yard just round the corner from the Stoke campus. (I wrote about the longer term plan for the Goods Yard here).

18th LOL Comedy Club at the Regent Theatre

18th and 19th Balloon Festival at Uttoxeter Racecourse

23rd The Vaccines at the Sugarmill

26th Potteries Arf Marathon get your running shoes on or just watch

October

1st Manic Street Preachers at Victoria Hall, Hanley

1st – 3rd Stone Food Festival (the best food festival in the region). Take a short train journey from Stoke to Stone or cycle along the canal path weather permitting.

4th Comedian Josh Widdicombe at the Regent Theatre

8th Scarefest at Alton Towers

8th – 9th Oktoberfest in Hanley Park right next to the Stoke campus

November

9-13th Derren Brown Showman at the Regent Theatre

22-23rd Love Cheese Live at the Staffordshire County Show Ground

23-24th Comedian Jimmy Carr at the Victoria Hall

26th Modfather Paul Weller at the Victoria Hall

Useful entertainment links

University wide clearing – 0800 590 830

Courses available in clearing at the Business School

Call our friendly team of Clearing experts on 0800 590 830 who are on hand to support you through the process, or sign up to one of our free events: http://orlo.uk/VJY7l

Just one of the many great events on this Autumn
Just one of the many great events on this Autumn

What we learn becomes part of who we are

Tonia Barrett, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


Most students decide to go to University as they want to learn, experience university life, meet friends, improve chances in their career, and gain more independence. Our Foundation Degree in Visitor Attraction and Resort Management (VARM) students achieve all of this and so much more. They leave with memorable and life changing experiences, broader knowledge, in depth understanding, increased determination, the skills to overcome challenges, an improved level of responsibility and time management skills. Are these skills you want to improve? Are you ready for a new challenge? Fancy meeting friends that that overtime become family? What we learn becomes part of who we are, check us out.

Past and present VARMers who currently work at Alton Towers Resort. May 2021. [Department’s expedience include: – marketing, conference and banqueting, Scarefest, security and control, SeaLife, rides, product excellence, admission, finance, Food and Beverage, Health and safety, entertainments to name a few.]

I have the great pleasure to be part of a growing programme full of enthusiastic, energetic, innovative, creative, humorous, and imaginative learners. This educational experience isn’t going to be easy, but after 2 years of studying, and gaining employment at Alton Towers resort there will be no doubt in your mind that it will all be worth it. Our VARM course looks for quality over quantity, so you won’t be in a room with hundreds of other learners, just liked minded people like you. We don’t strive for perfection at every entrance gate, we train, teach, stretch, and individually challenge you to develop as for us we are looking for progression not perfection in both your academic studies and your employment experiences. While studying you will take part in debates, discussions, individual and group assessments, you will design your own Visitor Attraction business, you will investigate, read, research, and analyse current practices. This course is a unique and bespoke opportunity for you to grow personally and professional in a friendly orientated environment that is supportive and inclusive to all learners.  You will gain support from University specialists from a wide field of organisational areas to include Tourism, Events and Hospitality.

Tonia Barrett, dedicated lecturer, and author of the blog with Harry Peek who graduated VARM 2018 and then gradated with a Top up in June 2019.

The VARM adventure includes 10-weeks paid placement in the UK’s leading theme park, Alton Towers Resort. The greatest showman once wrote ‘The noblest art is to make others happy’ (P. T. Barnum) and through your employment opportunities in the resort you will find yourself engrossed in delivering outstanding customer service, you will be able to build your communication skills, problem solving techniques, teambuilding as well as your own personnel management skills. While on your rollercoaster adventure, you will have the opportunity to gain access in student lead meetings with the Senior Leadership Team at the resort as well other unique opportunities. The exposure to these career driven individuals, not only helps with the writing of your assessments but also helps with your own career, motivation, networking, and drive to achieve your own dreams.  

We are so much more than an educational establishment, we know through hard work, reflection, determination, motivation, and our support and guidance we can help turn your dreams into reality. As my favourite professor once said, ‘It’s not our abilities, but our choices that make us who we are.’ Dumbledore, Harry Potter.  Throughout the success of VARM, it has been evidenced that the more you put in, the more you get out. Read the testimonials below from current and previous students, and then ‘make the right choice’.

Year 1 students on placement May 2021. [Departments include: – rides areas, product excellence, retail, Food and Beverage, Human Resources, admissions, SeaLife, gardens, housekeeping, and water park.]

Testimonials

Matt. Street Performer/Dungeon Attraction Manager. Graduated from VARM June 2021, moving into BA Business Management in September 2021. ‘Staffordshire University has given me the freedom to independently gain skills and understanding of the leisure industry, supported by teaching of theories and processes which can be applied throughout my job robes at Alton Towers Resort.’


Cameron. Animal Information Host at Shark Bait Reef by Sea Life. Graduated VARM June 2021, Business Top Up planned for September 2021.

Varm has been Fun, Friends and Fulfilment in myself. I’ve gained independence whilst being at Staffs both in my studies and work life. Grateful for all the opportunities and have really pushed and developed myself.  A Clearer idea of where I want to work in the future thanks to the placements and working I’ve widened my network at Alton Towers.


Nick. Guest Relations Manager. Distinction achieved in Fda Visitor Attraction & Resort Management, graduated June 2020. Currently studying Business management BA top-up. ‘VARM provides students with the chance to learn, gain experience and make unforgettable memories. Personally for me delivering a wealth of knowledge, after six enticing placements around the resort.’


Harry. Retail Team Leader. Level 4 VARM student, progressing to level 5 in September 2021. “Throughout my first year on the VARM course at Staffordshire University I have gained skills within a professional, safe, academic environment which I have been able to display through my work placements at Alton Towers Resort



Student Placements

2nd placement for year 1 students in December 2019. Christmas event at Alton Towers Resort Hotel.
Tom, current student. Galactica’s ride area in the portal
VARM takeover in the product excellence team. VARM year 1s, 2s, BA top up students from Business and Events.

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.

#ProudtToBeStaffs
#VARM
#LifelongLearning
#SeekingOpportunities
#FantabulousFrancisJackson
#Inspirational
#StayVARM
#VARMtastic

Plan and the future will be bright

Paul Walters, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


The event sector which includes hospitality and tourism, has seen a significant decline in commercial activity, since March 2020 and as we come to the close for the year 2020.  Many small to medium size business saw a complete loss of business, this included the festival industry which had somewhere in the region of 7 million visitors attending festivals in the UK each year.  It is reported, the UK prior to the COVID restrictions had somewhere in the region of 400 plus festivals throughout the UK each year.  Even the largest event provider on the planet ‘Live Nation’ experienced financial difficulty and received $500 million from a Saudi investment fund.  Live Nation furloughed 20% of its staff to save $600 million and Live Nation artists were informed by the company to take a pay cut.  This was a similar situation and mirrored in most cases across the Event Sector. 

Companies within the sector that had Interruption Insurance, attempted to make a claim because of the Government shut down.  The sector will fully understand what is meant by ‘interruption Insurance’.  As some insurance companies decided to decline claims on ‘Interruption Insurance.  Insurance companies argued that many claims did not specify or have insurance for the specific type of interruption.  However, there was some light at the end of the tunnel, a High Court ruling on the 15th September 2020 which represented 370,000 policy holders who are some way clearer to an answer and pay out under their interruption insurance claim.  So, what do we learn from this, it is not just necessary to have interruption insurance but also specify the type of interruption be that Government shut down, a pandemic and what type of virus, be that SARS, Zika or any other known type.  

Some event companies within the sector made an early attempt to re-engage with their consumers through a different medium. Those that made the immediate change rather than cancel maintained a presence in the commercial marketplace and some saw a significant increase in revenue. 

Image source: https://www.tomorrowland.com/en/festival/welcome

If you haven’t heard of Tomorrowland outdoor music festival, let me refocus your attention. This is a festival that takes place in Belgium and has a 15 year history.  In 2019 Tomorrowland had 250,000 attendees at the festival site.  When the pandemic hit the global economy, Tomorrowland didn’t cancel or postpone, they created over a period of three months an online virtual festival. Two million people registered for a ticket and 400,000 people received an invite.  Some commentators say the industry in the main wasn’t quick to respond to the change to the environment, thus providing a short-term alternative solution for their customers. 

In the North East of England, we saw the first licensed outdoor music event that ran for a period of 6 weeks. With a maximum capacity of attendees each day of 2500, contained in their own Covid secure zones, a maximum of six per zone.  The event was sponsored by Virgin money as title sponsor.  For the event to have a return on investment, a schedule of live performances over six weeks was the only solution.

Image Source: Daily Feed

So, the question on everyone’s lips, will the event industry recover and what will it look like in 2021 going forwards. 

There is no guarantee for this virus to completely dissipate from society even with a vaccine and we as a nation may experience another rise in transmission during 2021 and possible government shutdowns. The events industry must be flexible and ready to respond to the change in the environment to maintain some financial stability and continued growth.  Alternative methods for delivering events should be considered and factored into the planning process with a viable contingency if immediate change is required. 

Get your Hunter Wellington Boots on and book a ticket for Parklife outdoor music festival September 2021.

From Leisure to Retail: Lessons in Leisure

Carol Southall, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


If current shopping trips offer any food for thought, beyond that is “not just any food”, it is that retail has much to learn from the leisure industry in terms of how to treat their customers. Beset with the accessibility issues raised by Covid-19, retailers with a physical high street or retail park/shopping mall presence are having to rethink how they do business. The ‘new normal’ is a commonly used phrase and yet, to date, the ‘new normal’ has, in so many ways, been anything but new, and anything but normal.

Two of the key areas in which there are clearly lessons to learn, are those involving queuing, so much a part of life in the UK even before Covid-19, and provision of toilet facilities. Recent news has highlighted scores of people rushing to shops on their reopening, and the ensuing lengthy queues to access those shops. Additionally, there has been negative press around the lack of available toilet facilities in public space, with councils being urged to reopen any closed public toilets. The Government’s drive to reopen the hospitality industry will further reinforce the need for public access to toilets.

Most of us know how to queue, we understand the need to do so, even if we don’t always like it. Queuing in fact is a stereotypical British institution, much like eating fish and chips and discussing the weather, it’s what people do. Given this high level of queue awareness, we might be forgiven in thinking that the organisation of a queue system is almost embedded within our psyche, and yet the variety of queue systems on any given retail park, at any given retail outlet, anywhere in the UK, is astonishing. On a recent visit to a well-known retail park, there were at least 20 different queues, all snaking in different directions, for different stores. Some made good use of barriers, some offered marked walkways to which they anticipated their shoppers would adhere. Some required people to queue past the store exit, meaning that shoppers had to walk straight past people, within a metre, as they left the store. Some had security, some didn’t. The variety was endless. What was quickly apparent however, was that queue etiquette was unilaterally present in them all. We accept whatever queue we’re placed in and wait, not always patiently, to progress along the line.

Image source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53044826

The British have taken shopping tourism to a whole new level. Days spent at retail outlets are considered as a leisure pursuit in their own right. Overnight stays near shopping malls often combine retail ‘therapy’ with dining out, a visit to a cinema, and opportunities for a range of additional leisure pursuits, including bowling, skiing, swimming, indoor mini-golf, and a host of other leisure activities aligned to family fun. Whilst lockdown has prevented such activity in recent months, anybody venturing out to a retail park or shopping mall could be forgiven in thinking that nothing has changed. Except it has, as the queues and lack of toilet facilities show.

The leisure industries have much acquired knowledge to pass on to retail. From queue management, through experience design, to provision of necessary facilities. When asked on a radio interview what people really needed when they attend theme parks, the suggestion “a loo, a view and a brew” was proposed as fundamental to enjoyment of the experience offered by attractions. Having toilet facilities, something entertaining and visually stimulating to look at, and somewhere to eat and drink were suggested as necessities to a day spent visiting an attraction of any sort.

Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers.
Image source: https://twitter.com/altontowers/status/850770317299638272

When we go to a theme park, we understand that we will queue. The difference is that theme parks are designed with queuing systems in mind. Queue theory supports the argument that crowding and lengthy waiting times are major causes of visitor dissatisfaction. Enhancing the queue experience will encourage the customer to not only enjoy their shopping experience but will also increase the likelihood that they will revisit, which is particularly important if the high street is to stand any chance of a recovery, post Covid-19.

In the short-term putting more thought into the systems used to ensure shoppers are able to access retail outlets in more structured, better thought-out and even more entertaining way, will pay dividends, both in terms of visitor satisfaction and the ensuing profits. Added to this the installation of easily accessible, even temporary or portable public toilets, openly cleaned and sanitised at regular intervals, will help to ensure that the current economic recovery phase is facilitated and the transition to the ‘new normal’ made easier by this attention to detail, so integral to the leisure industry.

Melting the Cultural Iceberg: A Journey to Cultural Awareness

Carol Southall, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School



As tourists we are apt to display a level of cultural arrogance that is often not representative of the person we are in our daily lives. We make assumptions about a destination, its people, lifestyles and all the overtly obvious elements of culture to which we expose ourselves during a trip, such as language, dress, religion and food.

In 1978 Edward Said controversially identified ‘the other’ in reference to those with whom we are unfamiliar, highlighting the false cultural representations informing western preconceptions and subsequent imperialist behaviour. Often used to refer to people of ‘oriental’ (Middle-eastern or Asian) origin, Said’s seminal work focused on western perceptions of the ‘other’, and difficulties in integrating western and eastern cultures (Said, 2003).

When we are exposed to the ‘other’ we may display a level of cultural superiority in an effort to assimilate our environment. We consider our own culture to be superior to that which we are experiencing, as our own cultural norms may be our only reference point on our cultural ‘compass’. We thus demonstrate an air of arrogance in assuming this. In struggling to understand the cultural context in which we find ourselves, we revert to the relative familiarity of what we know and understand, assuming it to be superior to that in which we find ourselves. We fail to fully understand other cultures and thus respond inappropriately to them and do not engage with them, often preferring to find a familiar enclave and settle there in the relative comfort of a familiar environment, McDonalds, a British pub, restaurants serving English breakfast (in the case of English tourists) etc.

In today’s globally connected world there is an increasing call for global citizens, and yet the question is, what is a global citizen, how do we connect, and in a time of political turmoil and upheaval, for the UK in particular, how important is this?

A global citizen is someone who is able to demonstrate an understanding of the world and their place in it. The interconnected nature of the world as a result of globalisation means that increasingly there is a need for those who are able to demonstrate a high level of cultural awareness.

Cultural awareness is a result of immersion, culture shock and introspection, and even good humour plays its part. Cultural immersion requires time, effort, knowledge and understanding, but it is the key to cultural awareness and the ensuing cultural competence required for greater cultural integration.

There are 3 key ingredients in cultural competence:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Experience, not just in the form of books and films, but immersion in culture. Try it, touch it, eat it, make mistakes, apologise, listen, try again
  • Positive change

In 1986 Weaver applied an iceberg analogy to previous cultural literature (Hall, 1976) and subsequently identified the cultural iceberg, consisting of 3 layers:

  • Surface culture – including the more obvious elements of culture such language, food and dress
  • Unspoken rules – hidden below the surface and taking more time for an outsider to understand, these include business and social etiquette and symbolism of colours
  • Unconscious rules – the most difficult and yet the most important characteristics to know and understand. These are the things that people adhere to and believe in without conscious thought, including verbal and non-verbal communication, sense of time, physical distance and emotional responses.

So what can we do to become a global citizen? To melt the cultural iceberg and uncover and understand the unspoken and unconscious elements of culture that lead from cultural sensitivity to increased cultural awareness and cultural competence, and ultimately facilitate global interconnectedness and understanding? It is suggested that the only way to learn the internal culture of others is to actively participate in their culture. This takes time, commitment and an open mind.

We cannot judge a new culture based only on what we see when we first enter it. We must take time to get to know individuals from that culture and interact with them. Only through this can we uncover the values and beliefs that underlie the behaviour of that society and hope to make positive steps towards cultural understanding and integration. Consideration of all as equals is fundamental to progressing cultural awareness, argues Vaudrin-Charette (2019).

Only through cultural competence on the part of all groups in society can there be greater acceptance between and within groups of people, and, who knows, the world may just become a better place.

References

Said, E. (2003) Orientalism. London: Penguin Books.

Vaudrin-Charette (2019) Melting the Cultural Iceberg in Indigenizing Higher Education: Shifts to Accountability in Times of Reconciliation. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 157, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com)

Weaver, G.R. in Paige, R.M. (1986) Cross-cultural orientation: new conceptualizations and applications. University Press of America.

For information on studying Tourism and Events at Staffordshire University click here

Digital Entrepreneurship – A Game Changer

Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School


Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).

What is digital entrepreneurship?

Based on our team’s research, digital entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation, through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes, digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.

What are the opportunities for businesses and organizations?

There are many opportunities that digital technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity, scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time zones. 

What are the key challenges?

However, the low barrier to use digital platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues, cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business. The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most. 


For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

What is a university for?

Professor Jess Power, Associate Dean – Students


There are several possible interpretations of the fundamental role of a university, however the one that holds close to my values and beliefs is “the university” as an institution for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, creating graduates who have a genuine commitment to making the world a better place and of being significant players in civil society. The western university model has been a remarkable success and is one in which we should have immense pride. Operational freedom within an interactive setting which enables excellence across teaching, research, learning and enterprise opening unlimited opportunities for many. However, in an increasingly complex and uncertain world the role of the university is constantly being questioned. In particular there has been a recent drive for developing “value”, in the form of employable work ready graduates. This may be interpreted as a set of desirable skills and attributes to be embedded within the curriculum or perhaps and more importantly the development of an entrepreneurial mind-set. The ability to think outside the box, to adapt and respond to change in a fast paced environment and more importantly the ability to be able to communicate within and beyond their academic discipline is perceived key to graduates contributing to societal challenges.

In today’s global economy and in society as a whole we are faced with many complex challenges (clean water, ageing population, disaster management, global-warming, sustainable food production, transitioning populations), which require new ways of working. It is widely accepted that innovative and sustainable solutions for many complex global social issues reach far beyond the boundaries of a single academic discipline or methodological approach and as such the practical argument for embedding interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities into the learning experience within universities is strong. Interdisciplinary working is widely accepted to be the new mode of knowledge production, it focuses on building intellectual capacity and is supported by government policy makers and research funding agencies. Many of the most exciting developments cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and therefore have great potential to break through complex societal problems and foster innovation.

The concept of interdisciplinarity within Higher Education is not new: Thompson and Fogel (1921), acknowledged in their publication ‘Higher Education and Social Change’ that all social problems require interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. They expanded on this by stating: “if graduates … are to be societies’ leaders …they need a broad social and historical perspective that is difficult to achieve in one discipline”. Thompson and Forgel’s (1921) paper highlighted specifically the need for Higher Educational institutions to promote interdisciplinarity as a means of developing the essential skills of leadership required to impact on civil society.

So, what is a university for? It is to change mind-set, opening up opportunities to bring together individuals to generate knowledge to solve societal problems for the good of mankind. Thus, the connections we make, the disciplines we cross and the knowledge we form are only part of the picture, it is the transformative impact on people’s life’s that we make that hold the true meaning of the value of a university, which instil the leadership qualities desired to make the world a better place.

 

Thompson, K.W. & Fogel, B.R. (1921). Higher Education and Social Change: Promising Experiments in Developing Countries. Vol 1 Reports. US: Praeger.

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