UWE Alumni Spotlight: Bristol Sport’s Growing UWE Alumni Contingent

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We caught up with some former UWE Bristol Faculty of Business and Law students who are operating within key roles at Bristol Sport – the organisation that encompasses Bristol City Football Club, Bristol Bears Rugby and Bristol Flyers Basketball, housed at Ashton Gate Stadium.

These alumni share how their UWE journey and experiences prepared them for their careers in the sport industry.

Jess Berry headshot

Name and role

Jess Berry, Head of Retail and Wholesale

UWE course studied

Business Studies

Current job role and responsibilities

“My role at Bristol Sport spans across the retail and wholesale departments for the group as a whole. The depth of my role means I can do be doing anything on a day to day basis, such as working with manufacturers to develop playing kits for rugby, football or basketball, to agreeing terms with couriers delivering our product, or attending photoshoots with players to get content for launches.

Retail is a very varied industry, but sports retail can often be hard as it can be affected by a lot of external factors, particularly on field performance. Having said that, there is a lot of scope for creativity within the job, bringing out new and exciting products to share with an engaged base of fans.

Broadly speaking my role consists of the strategy management of the retail department, ensuring revenue and profit targets are met, buying, overseeing both the bricks and mortar store as well as driving our e-commerce business. I also manage our wholesale department, which I am looking to develop over the next few years.”

How my UWE experience helped

“My course was a 4-year sandwich degree, in which I spent a year working as a recruitment consultant. I enjoyed the job, and although I didn’t feel like that industry was what I wanted to pursue, it gave me invaluable skills in how to work within a corporate environment. The sales training in particular meant I learnt key negotiation skills, and how to build lasting relationships, both of which help now with my buying, and with working with manufacturers.”

Steve Devereux headshot

Name and role

Steve Devereux, Commercial Manager – Bristol Flyers Basketball

UWE course studied

Business with Marketing

Current job role and responsibilities

“Managing, implementing and coordinating the day-to-day commercial and operational activities of Bristol Flyers Basketball Club.

My main areas of focus include:
Partnership management and activation; Commercial strategy; Commercial services co-ordination (ticketing, media, communications, retail, marketing etc.); Gameday management and delivery. Flyers are set to move to a new purpose built circa 3,000 capacity venue in the next few years (Ashton Gate Sports & Convention Centre), so I am currently focused on helping to build the commercial foundations to make this a successful transition.”

How my UWE experience helped

“Studying Business and Marketing at UWE provided knowledge and understanding of core concepts that underpin many of the activities undertaken as part of my role. However, it was my extra-curricular UWE activities that benefited me the most, specifically being president of the UWE Basketball society. This role gave me responsibility and a project relevant to my degree and future career path. We were given a budget, targets, the ability to create roles and the creative freedom to rebrand and raise the profile of the club digitally. Running this society was like running a small business and also led me to make the connections that helped me gain the job I have today.”

Rob Shotton headshot

Name and role

Rob Shotton, Commercial Account Executive/Partnership Activation Team

UWE course studied

Business and Management

Current job role and responsibilities

“At Bristol Sport, I work within the sponsorship activation team, where I ensure that all sponsors’ contractual obligations are met whilst always looking to go above and beyond the client expectation. Furthermore, I account manage over 25 main sponsors across the Bristol Sport group including national and international clients. I also work very closely with Premiership Rugby, the English Football League and their respective partners.

I work matchdays at Ashton Gate, welcoming match sponsors and ensuring that the commercial activities run smoothly. I am also responsible for ensuring that matchday assets such as the perimeter LED advertising are playing the correct content.

At Bristol Sport, we are very dedicated to changing lives through sport and inspiring the community with sporting success. To see sponsors and fans alike become engaged and passionate when it comes to sport is fantastic!”

How my UWE experience helped

“The ability to combine my University degree with a sandwich placement year was very beneficial for understanding the industry that I wanted to forge a career in. During my third year of Uni’, I secured a placement at Macclesfield Town Football Club where I worked in all departments, specifically within Commercial, Events, Media and Marketing and I was responsible for the transition of kit supplier, moving from Carbrini to Umbro. With the knowledge and business know-how gained at UWE, I was able to transfer these skills into getting the most out of my placement year.

In my final year, I was given the freedom to merge my studies with writing a dissertation on my chosen topic – Sponsorship in Sport and How it Benefits Both Parties. This is something that then helped me to understand the commercial world of sport in further detail before applying for jobs in that particular sector.”

Tom Kent headshot

Name and role

Tom Kent, Marketing Assistant

UWE course studied

Business Management with Marketing

Current job role and responsibilities

“Setting up campaign promotions including social media advertising and other paid advertising for product areas including ticketing, membership retail and hospitality. I also build and send weekly email campaigns across all the business areas (Bristol City, Bristol Bears, Bristol Flyers etc). I liaise with the internal design team & external printers to obtain departmental requirements and manage print deadlines.”

How my UWE experience helped

“My time at UWE helped me to understand the theory behind the practical requirements of my current job role. During my time at UWE, I was able to learn and understand the different areas of marketing, which I have since been able to put in to practice. This knowledge has proven to be crucial in my current job role. As well as the theoretical side of my studies in my third year at UWE I also partook in a placement year where I worked at a Bristol-based Marketing company. This year in industry was crucial for my professional development and is something I would highly recommend.”

Bristol Business School awarded the Small Business Charter

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We are proud to announce that we have successfully completed a reassessment and will continue to hold the Small Business Charter Award until 2024.

In December 2020, Bristol Business School underwent a two-day reassessment to renew the Small Business Charter. The Small Business Charter Award provides recognition to business schools that play an effective role in supporting small businesses, local economies, and student entrepreneurship. 33 UK business schools hold the Small Business Charter Award.

The award applies to the Bristol Business School but recognises activity across UWE Bristol. Our success is a testament to the volume and quality of work that staff undertake within our programmes, to our research and knowledge exchange culture, and to the energy and creativity of our students. Above all, the award represents excellent team working across departments, between faculties, and with colleagues in all parts of the university.

“We are delighted these business schools have again demonstrated the incredibly valuable contributions they make to small businesses and their local economies. The work that they do to help businesses grow and to support students into entrepreneurship has lasting impacts in their regional economies. Having business schools like these on the doorstep of local businesses is fantastic for our recovery, regionally and nationally. Following the announcement that the nationwide Help to Grow: Management programme will be delivered through business schools accredited by the Small Business Charter, we are pleased that these four business schools will continue to be a part of the SBC.’’

Anne Kiem OBE, Executive Director of the Small Business Charter and Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools


“I am delighted that Bristol Business School has once again been awarded the Small Business Charter, and we look forward to further deepening our relationships with other SBC schools as well as with our student, public sector and SME stakeholders. The award reflects the investment we have made over the past 5 years in enterprise education, support for businesses, and engagement with our regional, national and international networks. As we implement our UWE Bristol Strategy 2030, our focus is ever more on encouraging enterprise and supporting the SME ecology through pro-bono advice clinics, business hatcheries, programmes of professional development, funding schemes or student engagement with businesses. The SBC is a mark of the quality of our activities and an indicator of our aspirations to grow further.

Ray McDowell, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, UWE Bristol Business School

Read more about the Small Business Charter Award.

International Women’s Day: In conversation with Amy Kington

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By Rachel Evans, Relationship Manager at UWE Bristol, with Amy Kington, Founder and CEO of Community of Purpose, Faculty Board Member and UWE Bristol Alumni.

As we join together again to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, perhaps this year, more than any other, we are asking how we can challenge both societal and workplace norms to give ourselves the space to be the best version of ourselves.

The last year has been immensely challenging for everyone and whilst some advances will undoubtedly improve the flexibility we have within our professional roles, we may all feel overburdened and find ourselves questioning our purpose and how we can support ourselves and each other to flourish in a post-COVID workplace.

This is where I see the value in UWE Bristol networks such as WILWAL (Women in Leadership and Women Aspiring to Leadership) and in taking time to actively celebrate our shared experiences through events like International Women’s Day. I recently took some time to ask Amy Kington; Founder and CEO of Community of Purpose, about her professional career, the challenges she has faced along the way, and why she values networks and events that celebrate women.

Hi Amy, can you tell me about you and what you do with Community of Purpose?

Thanks Rachel, as you have mentioned, I am the Chief Executive Officer of Community of Purpose, a C.I.C that empowers people and their communities to overcome big challenges. We have an army of dedicated, hungry, and passionate staff that encourage the creation and sharing of ideas to help the wider community become an amazing place!

Our approach is a combination of innovation and pragmatism. Over the last four years, working with the communities, we have acted as a link between the local authorities and voluntary sector, found ways to involve businesses, and developed a range of activities that aim to build aspiration and tackle inequality.

In 2011 I also led a transformational change programme at Bristol City Community Trust that helped the organisation respond to the challenges that the City faced whilst also supporting the football club to achieve its goals. This involved measuring, evaluating and rethinking to reach a higher level of strategic execution. I developed a team that built a sustainable and innovative business model that adapted, innovated, and envisioned the future. Together, we created economic opportunities and leveraged resources that brought millions of pounds into community, sport, and educational development.

What fantastic work! What led you to be where you are now?

I’ve been involved in using sport for social change in Bristol since 1998. I am passionate about improving the life chances of young people and creating opportunities so that they can fulfil their potential. Previously I have served as a special police constable with Avon and Somerset Police, a position that I held for 10 years. I have also worked for Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Bristol City Council, The Football Association and Bristol City Football Club. Whilst working in each of these organisations it’s been great to see my work receive recognition through the achievement of national awards.

The truth is – I never sit still! I believe that learning is a daily adventure that one should carry and explore throughout life.  I also completed an Executive MBA at the University of the West of England and I am a Learning Ambassador for the City.

As the female CEO of Community of Purpose, how are you tackling the biggest challenges our city and region face in terms of child poverty, hunger, health, education and race inequalities?

We have an unwavering belief that everyone can contribute meaningfully to society if they are given the right support and opportunities. Communities are at the heart of our organisation: we work within Bristol’s communities, with individuals and families, empowering them to identify what is needed to transform their lives and then supporting them to act.

Our projects are focused on supporting communities that are culturally, economically, and geographically disadvantaged.

Our three key projects in the community are;

Break Free

We launched Break Free in 2018 in partnership with Youth Moves, who are based in one of the most deprived areas in Bristol, to address the problem of holiday hunger. It offers daily sessions for 8–13-year-olds during the school holidays, providing high quality educational and physical activities – from football and cricket to theatre school and computer coding – along with breakfast and lunch.

In 2019, we provided 824 free meals and 124 session hours to 223 children.

Bristol Together Championships

Using the universal language of football and the many benefits that participating in a team sport can bring, we launched the Bristol Together Championships in 2012. The aim is to create community cohesion, by bringing boys and girls from different ethnic, social, geographical and faith groups together to form football teams.

In 2019, 140 children from 28 diverse Bristol primary schools took part, with teams of five from each school twinned with another school from a very different demographic. They were given professional training sessions at each other’s schools before competing in the Championships, held at UWE Bristol in June. Four schools were then selected to represent the city on a memorable visit to Bordeaux, France.

Bristol Young Heroes Awards

These awards were originally established by the Mayor of Bristol seven years ago to showcase and celebrate young people who have overcome adversity to achieve greatness or gone above and beyond in their community. Community of Purpose took over the awards three years ago and we have worked hard since then to grow them, seeking new sponsors and supporters to enable us to expand the categories, reach more young people and add additional opportunities for the worthy nominees, such as work experience with local businesses.

Being so values driven forces you to challenge societal norms and injustices. What barriers have you faced in doing this?

Being the first female to lead a male academy at a professional football club was an interesting and challenging role. I loved every second, not least, because of the role and responsibility but also because it provided a platform to challenge societal norms. I have often thought about writing a book, but I’d have to work hard to anonymise things. Cliff-hanger moment… it would be a riveting read!  

What value do you attribute to events like International Women’s Day, and why?

International Women’s Day is amazing as it provides a wonderful platform to celebrate the lives and futures of all women, including those who act as a force for good to create a fairer and more inclusive world. This year’s theme on choose to challenge resonates with me and all that I have done throughout my career. 

Thank you to Amy for taking the time to speak to us about her amazing journey and community impact in the city. You can follow Amy on Twitter to keep up to date with her work.

Students and alumni working together to fight plastic pollution

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Our Team Entrepreneurship programme at UWE Bristol is all about collaboration and innovation, so it isn’t a surprise that a seamless partnership between current students and alumni run not-for-profit, Coacoara Foundation, has recently transpired.

Kiera Hellard, founder of Ocean Raye, a small business inspired by sea glass and other ocean-related products, and third-year Team Entrepreneurship student at UWE Bristol, recently reached out to Sam Leonard, Team Entrepreneurship alum and Marketing Director at Coacoara Foundation, to collaborate and share Ocean Raye’s sea-glass jewellery on the Coacoara Foundation eco store. This was the start of a fantastic partnership between student and alum, both working together to reduce single-use plastics and fighting for a cleaner world.

“I love the work that Coacoara Foundation do so I was thrilled when they offered me the opportunity to be featured on their website alongside some other really cool eco brands. Being environmentally conscious is something that is really important to both our brands, so I think the partnership works well.”

Kiera Hellard

Coacoara Foundation was also involved with the Team Entrepreneurship’s client project where all students on the Team Entrepreneurship programme collaborate to form consultancy teams and gain real practical experience working for a client. Kiera and the team, which consisted of six Level 3 Team Entrepreneurship students and seven lower-level students, were able to raise the brand identity for Coacoara Foundation as part of the client project through creating TikTok content for them, creating an eco-activity for schools and contacting eco-stores who may want to be involved with Coacoara Foundation.

Kiera says, “It was great working with Coacoara as it meant I could get really involved with what they do and help them raise awareness for such an important issue. The team was really lovely, and it was a pleasure working on the project.”

Beth, a second-year student, said that “working with the Coacoara Foundation has been a really rewarding experience. I feel I’m able to give something back by having a better understanding of the problems our planet is currently facing and raising awareness to others who may not be so aware. Creating TikToks allowed me to be creative and work within my skill set to help promote the foundation.”

Tom, who is also a second-year, says “I loved the opportunity to work with Coacoara Foundation. I’ve always been very keen to learn about behaving ethically and to start my journey of becoming an Ecopreneur. I’ve particularly enjoyed being able to grow my knowledge of sales as it is currently very applicable to my current business – VVS consultancy. I’m very much looking forward to growing our relationship.”

“Working with the TE students was a great chance to work with young professionals that are going through the same learning process that I did. When I was on the Team Entrepreneurship course, we did a similar project with a big law firm, so it was fantastic that the team choose us to work with.

It was hugely valuable to work with the team, as they were able to not only present ideas to us, but execute those ideas in such a short time period! It’s great to also have switched on students and a fresh mindset when thinking about business problems, which benefited us extremely as they were able to open us to a market we had never thought of before.”

Sam Leonard, Marketing Director at Coacoara Foundation

Following on from this partnership, there are now around five students who are in the process of becoming ambassadors for the Coacoara Foundation which will include with their 13 other ambassadors to promote the brand and work on projects such as beach cleans, teaching in schools, fundraising and many other exciting projects to come.

One of the team members Tom says “I have chosen to stay on as an ambassador as I strongly support their vision and relish the opportunity to learn more with them.”

Another team member Lauren says “I’m an ambassador for the Coacoara Foundation because it spreads a really good message about looking after the planet, by selling and promoting biodegradable products. This is something that I’m passionate about and I want to help make a difference.”

Kiera says she is thankful to Team Entrepreneurship coach Tom de Pentheny O’Kelly for putting her in touch with Sam. What a wonderful collaboration that has come out of this partnership with students and alumni working together to promote their brands.

You can visit Coacoara’s website here and follow Ocean Raye on Instagram here.

BBS | BLS Virtual Christmas Fair

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Welcome to the Bristol Business School | Bristol Law School Christmas fair. This year we have had to take our usual Christmas fair held in the Bristol Business School Atrium online. But don’t worry, we still have a fantastic range of products on offer with representation from UWE Bristol students, staff and businesses in the local community.

All you need to do now is click the link below to view the stalls and links to shop, or download the PDF and get browsing! We hope you enjoy.

If you have any questions please email bbec@uwe.ac.uk. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this year’s virtual fair.

Team Entrepreneurship students tackle Global Business Challenges

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A group of 13 students on the BA (Business) Team Entrepreneurship programme at Bristol Business School have been selected to take part in the Global Business Challenge, a three-month experiential learning opportunity focused on solving real challenges for real businesses. Throughout the three-month programme, students will be working in cross-cultural teams with fellow entrepreneurial students from four different countries – the UK, Ecuador, the USA and Finland.

The Global Business Challenge has been co-created by six universities: UWE Team Academy, Aston Team Academy and Team Entrepreneurship at Bishop Grosseteste University in the UK; the University of Holy Spirit Specialties in Ecuador; Southern New Hampshire University in the United States and Proakatemia within Tampere University of Applied Sciences in Finland, the birthplace of the Team Academy methodology on which UWE Bristol’s Team Entrepreneurship programme is based.

Staff from across the six universities, which include Team Coaches and other academic staff specialising in entrepreneurship, have collaborated to provide a unique learning opportunity for their students, adopting the self-directed, team-based, experiential learning approach that is core to Team Academy degree programmes. Staff are supporting the learning of their students by taking on the role of Team Coach for one of the 10 cross-cultural teams that have been created.

The student teams meet virtually on a weekly basis to collectively ideate and problem solve around a specific business challenge from one of the five international businesses that are partners for the Global Business Challenge: the UK’s team profile company Belbin, First Republic Bank from the USA, business incubator ASAP Business in Ecuador, Canadian organic production supplier Organic4Greens and global translation and localisation specialists Lionbridge.

At the end of the programme the teams will present their solutions to their partner business, receiving invaluable feedback from the business professionals and identifying future opportunities to continue working together. The Global Business Challenge offers UWE Team Entrepreneurship students a unique opportunity to form meaningful connections with fellow students and business professionals on a global scale. This is the first international collaborative business challenge of this kind that has been established between the partner universities and the team of staff behind the programme are hosting regular virtual meetings to discuss further opportunities.

Within UWE Team Academy, the Global Business Challenge has been supported by Team Coaches Lauren Davies and Valtteri Melkko who are each coaching an international team, in addition to continuing to coach their own Team Company within the UWE Team Entrepreneurship programme. The Global Business Challenge is one of the many opportunities for UWE Team Entrepreneurship students to “learn by doing” and Valtteri and Lauren have been encouraging students to grasp this and the many other opportunities offered by the programme and beyond. Valtteri commented:

“It’s amazing to see how much growth and excitement it’s possible to see in our students when they are put to work in an international team in a challenge that is longer than a few days or weeks – they are full of energy.”

Valtteri Melkko

Reflecting on her experience of the Global Business Challenge so far, second-year Team Entrepreneurship student Natalie English said:

“Being part of the Global Business Challenge has allowed me to explore a new international team environment, a business challenge and working in an online space – all in one. Obviously, this hasn’t come without challenges, but having a coach means we are able to talk about these challenges in a safe environment. However, the most exciting elements for me so far have been putting my UWE course into practice and getting to see how those techniques are invaluable in any teamwork environment. Working with a real business, with a real challenge has opened my eyes to all the possibilities there are out there, as well as getting to network internationally!”

Natalie English

UWE Bristol launches The Bristol Distinguished Address Autumn 2020 Series

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The Bristol Distinguished Address Series (BDAS) provides a unique opportunity to hear about challenges and decisions being made at the highest level of strategic leadership by high-profile business executives from across the country and is back for Autumn 2020. Normally, the lectures are held at Bristol Business School, however, we are now running an online version of the talks.

Upcoming Bristol Lectures

The Virtual Annual Bolland Lecture 2020: NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol Panel Discussion

14 October 2020

The Nightingales are part of a nationwide effort to respond to the greatest global health emergency in more than a century. The temporary hospital at the Exhibition and Conference Centre on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus was vital to help support NHS efforts with the COVID-19 pandemic and support the local community and wider region at an exceptionally challenging time.

NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol was a truly collaborative project across a wide range of organisations and companies. Completed in just 20 days, the build of the 300-bed hospital demonstrated incredible team effort and the speed at which the hospital was been built is testament to the dedication, hard work, and teamwork from UWE Bristol staff, the Army, the NHS and the contractors, Kier. Collaboration was key with all stakeholders uniting and working together, safely, swiftly and with absolute skill and commitment. The agile response from all involved – with teams working 12 hours a day – was central to the construction project being complete in such a short time.

We are delighted to host a panel discussion focusing on the construction of the NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol, panel members include:

  • Professor Steve West CBE, Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Marie-Noelle Orzel, Chief Officer, NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol
  • Tim Whittlestone, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol
  • David Snell, Operations Director, Kier

Virtual Bristol Distinguished Address: Doug Perkins, Chair and Founder and Dame Mary Perkins, Co-founder, Specsavers

04 November 2020

Doug and Dame Mary Perkins founded Specsavers with the aim of offering affordable eye care to everyone. They will talk about how they saw the opportunity to revolutionise the optical market, following a relaxation of UK regulations, which allowed opticians to advertise products and services for the first time.

Specsavers is not built on a stock exchange model but rather on a unique joint venture partnership, where directors part-own and manage their own stores. Theirs is a values-led approach to business, which has led to a world-wide organisation that turns over 3 billion a year, operating in 10 countries and employing 35,000 colleagues.

Doug and Dame Mary met in Cardiff while studying optometry at university. After graduating they bought Mary’s father’s optometry business in her home town of Bristol, which they built into a successful chain of more than 20 stores across the south west. This provided invaluable experience when they set up Specsavers.

With Mary being Bristol-born and educated and Doug living in Bristol for 15 years (and even playing for Bristol rugby club), they will describe how their business experience in Bristol acted as an extended pilot for the birth of Specsavers and inspired their vision for affordable eyecare and audiology at scale.

After selling their original chain of stores, it took a further three years of worldwide research of partnership and franchises, which were unheard of in the medical sector, to create their unique business model.

Virtual Bristol Distinguished Address: Perminder Mann, CEO, Bonnier Books UK

11 November 2020

Have you ever felt like you needed to conform to fit in? What does aspiration mean to you? Do you have inspiring role models in your life? Perminder Mann, CEO of Bonnier Books UK, a publishing company with sales of over 80million and a regular on the publishing industry power lists, shares an honest account of her path to success. Overcoming personal obstacles and challenging stereotypes head on, Perminder argues how we all must bring our authentic selves to work. As a passionate believer in the power of books and the role the publishing industry must play in our society, Perminder also lays out her manifesto for positive change.

You can discuss all the events on Twitter by using #BristolLectures. We’re running this series online so you can watch from the comfort of your own home. This event will be hosted on Microsoft Teams – you can either view via the web or download the app. To join the event, please follow the link that will be sent in your event reminder a couple of days before the event.

Updated Guidance on holding AGM’s under COVID-19 Restrictions

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Moon Executive Search, Faculty of Business and Law Advisory Board member, have published a blog outlining guidance on holding AGM’s under the restrictions of coronavirus. Originally posted on Moon Executive Search.

The Quoted Companies Alliance is a high-profile membership organisation that champions small to mid-sized quoted companies.

To enable their membership to address the practical challenges of holding an annual general meeting (AGM) during the COVID-19 pandemic, the QCA supported the production of guidance by The Chartered Governance Institute (ICSA) alongside a collection of legal firms, the Financial Reporting Council, the  Investment Association, and The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who all reviewed and contributed to the guidance.


Businesses and organisations must continue to make the crucial decisions.

Vanessa Moon said: ‘This is a relationship that we greatly value, particularly as many of our clients are listed. We have found their resources to be extremely relevant and timely and we were delighted when Tim Ward their CEO shared this new guidance with us.’

Tim Ward, CEO of the QCA, said that: “The QCA has an impressive membership group and together we have strong collective influence – these are unprecedented times and at the forefront of our activity is our commitment and capacity to support our members. We are pleased to work with the ICSA and others collectively to produce this guidance on AGMs quickly to provide our members with information on how to navigate their regulatory obligations and make decisions needed to carry out their business.“


The Guidance outlines five options that companies can take:

1.       Adapt the basis on which they hold the AGM

2.       Delay convening the AGM, if notice has not yet been issued

3.       Postpone the AGM, if permitted under the articles of association

4.       Adjourn the AGM

5.       Conduct a hybrid AGM, if permitted under the articles of association

For more information, click here.            


The Stay at Home Measures make it harder to have an AGM but not impossible.

With the increasing impact of COVID-19, businesses are under pressure to transform to ‘the new normal’ but the AGM that is required by law cannot go ahead due to social distancing measures. At a time of great uncertainty, companies and their directors will need to focus on making the critical decisions that will enable them to get through the period with least disruption. One fully attended meeting would put the entire company and their families at risk.

However, chairing a quorate meeting may necessitate just ‘two director and/or employee shareholders of the company attending the meeting, with resolutions being passed by the proxy votes of those who have not been able to attend in person’.

The Stay at Home Measures make it harder to have an AGM but not impossible. Appropriate social distancing measures should be observed by the small number of attendees at a physical meeting and shaking hands is obviously off the table.

Whilst we must all take the utmost precaution in preventing the spread of COVID-19, businesses and organisations must continue to make the crucial decisions to survive and thrive in theses testing times.

For more information about how to safely conduct an AGM click here for the guidance from ICSA.


Quoted Companies Alliance
Quoted Companies Alliance

The QCA has also created a new COVID-19 hub (“The Lockdown Lowdown”) on its website to help QCA members. The Hub includes information on regulatory updates, government support schemes available for companies and the work the QCA is doing on behalf of its members. The Hub also bring together content from member advisory firms to help small and mid-sized quoted companies. Members can access the Hub here.

Quote from Tim Ward, who is the Chief Executive of the Quoted Companies Alliance since 2009.

“The QCA and our members are committed to playing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are proud of how our members have responded by innovating and adapting their business practices and continue to make the difficult decisions to ensure their companies are sustainable in the long term. The role of the QCA to support and act as the voice of small to mid-sized quoted companies is more important than ever and we are committed to doing everything possible to support our members through COVID-19.”

Alta case study: the importance of mentoring platforms

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Due to Covid-19, we are all facing uncertainty and change in our personal and professional lives. It is more important than ever to stay in touch with people in your professional circle and get support from mentorship programmes. We recently spoke with Susan Durbin and Stella Warren who are founding members of the alta mentoring scheme, a bespoke industry-wide mentoring programme designed for women/by women, in the aviation and aerospace industry, and also Rosalind Azouzi who is a key member of the alta Steering Committee, also offering administrative support for alta, on behalf of the Society. They have answered our questions about the platform, the importance of having a mentor and their advice in these unprecedented times.

Susan Durbin is Professor of Employment Studies/Human Resource Management, at Bristol Business School, UWE Bristol. She specialises in researching women’s employment in male dominated areas. She has published her work in a number of leading academic journals and is the author of, Women Who Succeed: strangers in Paradise? (2015) published by Palgrave Macmillan. Susan works with organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, to improve gender equality and support for women. She is also an active member of the Bristol Women’s Commission Women in Business Task Group, a Trustee with Fair Play South West, the gender equality network, and a member of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Women’s Committee at the Royal Aeronautical Society. She is a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Stella Warren is a Research Fellow in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre with a background in applied social research. She supports a wide range of research project teams within Bristol Business School and also teaches research methods at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her expertise includes social marketing and the understanding of psychological pathways for behaviour change in health; gender and inequality in organisations; the gender pay gap; and women working in male-dominated industries. She is a member of the British and European Sociological Association and on the board of the Research Network ‘Gender Relations, Labour Markets and the Welfare State (RN14).

Rosalind Azouzi is Head of Skills and Careers at the Royal Aeronautical Society. Rosalind supports the talent pipeline into the industry, from outreach programs for school children, to careers advice and support for early career professionals. Rosalind has a remit over the wider skills agenda, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. She sits on a number of committees and groups, including the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Committee, The Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter and the Aerospace Growth Partnership.

What is the alta mentoring scheme?

Launched on International Women’s Day (8th March) in 2019, the alta mentoring platform is the first scheme of its kind operating in the global aviation and aerospace industry. It is the result of a one year, ESRC-funded Knowledge Exchange project and the matched financial and in-kind contributions from the industry partners (The Royal Aeronautical Society, Airbus and the Royal Air Force). The year-long project involved research led by Professor Susan Durbin and Stella Warren (UWE Bristol) and Dr Ana Lopes (Newcastle University) to design and launch a mentoring scheme designed, ‘for women/by women’. The aim was to provide a mentoring scheme for professional women across the industry, based upon what women wanted from mentoring with an industry wide mentoring platform, to provide career and social support and build a community of women across the industry.

In practical terms, any professional women in the industry wishing to join alta, registers to join with the Royal Aeronautical Society and the request is moderated by RAeS staff. Once the applicant is accepted, they will receive an email and asked to sign in (creating a password) and complete a series of matching questions. The in-built algorithm sorts through the mentee’s answers to these questions and comes up with the top three mentor matches (mentors also complete the same set of matching questions). The mentee then decides which mentor to approach and makes a request through the system. Once the mentee and mentor are matched, they decide how and when to meet. Alta is a safe and secure environment, through which communications and meeting dates can be organised. There are supporting materials, such as an alta handbook, videos and mentor/mentee training.

What are the benefits of having an online mentor/what does online mentorship usually involve?

There are a number of benefits to having a mentor, especially for women who work in male dominated environments, such as the aviation and aerospace sector. The sector has a skills shortage, which could be partly addressed through the recruitment and retention of more women (women comprise just 4% of pilots and 10% of engineers in this industry, with very few occupying senior leadership positions). Mentoring can therefore be a key retention tool as women who have mentors can feel a sense of belonging, feel more valued, gain the support they need to progress their careers and make use of a ‘safe space’ where they can talk to a trusted mentor, about personal and work related challenges. Despite these benefits of mentoring, it is a rare resource for many women in male dominated sectors, which alta was designed to address.

On-line mentoring platforms, such as alta, have several advantages in comparison to face-to-face mentoring, including the exchange of knowledge, development of individual capabilities and sharing of identification with the mentor’s expertise. There is a body of academic research that highlights the benefits of on-line mentoring platforms. These include online mentoring transcending organisational and geographical boundaries, making it widely accessible and a benefit to under-represented groups; increased interaction between mentors and mentees; easier access to information; and feeling supported. It is also important to note, however, that online communication can be more impersonal and if mentoring is provided solely online, the support provided by the mentor can be less useful. This makes blended mentoring schemes that combine face-to-face and online facilities, such as alta, ideal.

Online women’s spaces can be less of a challenge as they offer a ‘virtual’ and convenient means through which women can connect and support one another. They can help address marginalisation, isolation and exclusion and ensure that they are comfortable expressing their needs in a ‘woman to woman’ environment. They can also be a means by which to challenge the male dominance of workplaces.

Given the current situation with many people working from home due to Coronavirus, how can a mentor best be utilised?

The alta mentoring platform offers mentors and mentees the opportunity to connect via the platform and to join the alta ‘community’, thereafter leaving mentors and mentees free to choose how they conduct their mentoring, e.g. face-to-face or virtually.  Alta members are, in this time of unprecedented crisis, able to enjoy the benefits of the alta on-line mentoring platform. It enables alta members to stay connected and to reach out for help and support when it is most needed.

The value of on-line mentoring has never been so important and it may also become a time for mentors and mentees to take stock of where they are in their careers and where they would like to go; a time for reflection and a re-assessment of where they are and where want to be. Mentoring is a great way to do that. It also gives mentors the opportunity to reach out to other women and even take on some additional mentoring, offering help to those women who most need their support. Mentors can therefore best be utilised via the alta platform, at a safe distance but offering comfort and advice to women who may be feeling especially isolated, vulnerable or lacking confidence if their roles have been furloughed. Or they may simply want to reach out and turn the current situation into a more positive one.

What successes has alta seen?

Alta is embedded into the Royal Aeronautical Society’s careers service and meeting its commitment to achieving gender equality throughout the industry. It is now part of the mentoring ‘offer’ of the founding partners (Airbus, The Royal Air Force and the Royal Aeronautical Society) and in addition, just over 300 individual women have already signed up as mentors and mentees from across the industry. A number of high-profile industry organisations have also joined (e.g. GKN, Safran Landing Systems, Collins Aerospace, Airbus) each making a financial contribution to the scheme, to support its associated member networking events and activities.

A number of additional high-profile organisations are also in the process of signing up. Alta is gradually bringing together competitor companies in the industry, as well as professional women who would otherwise not be in contact. A number of alta networking events have also been held since its launch, including a ‘speed mentoring’ session and a social event in London and an alta promotion/networking event at the UWE Bristol. The team feel it is also important to retain face-to-face mentoring and networking events when the current lockdown is lifted as this enables women to re-focus on their career and personal development as well as make new friends and contacts.

What challenges has alta come across?

During the research phase of the project, the project group, comprising academics and industry partners, operated mostly by consensus, but some challenges between the academic and industry worlds were inevitable. For example, one of the main challenges arose from assumptions around timeframes that needed to be negotiated. While the academic team were used to developing long-term projects, the business partners were used to implementing projects in a matter of months. There was also an on-going process by which participants came to understand – and shape – the role of the researchers within the project as a whole, as well as their own role as project co-owners. As it was the first time most participants engaged with this type of project, finding one’s own role within the project group was a process rather than a given. While the researchers were mostly accustomed to doing research on people, the other participants were accustomed to having people (e.g. consultants) provide a service for them.

Since its launch, the challenge has been to roll alta out to the industry, without saturating the market. The decision was taken to approach a small number of industry employers at a time and open up the scheme to their female professional employees, without inundating the system. This approach has proved fruitful, but it has meant that alta has grown more gradually than we would have liked. Other challenges have involved the initial pilot roll out of alta, to the founding partners, and realizing that more work needed to be done. For example, after piloting, some minor changes were made to the matching questions.

There is a need to gain further funding support for alta, going forward, which will prove to be more of a challenge due to the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. In spite of this, the aim is to maintain the platform, with its free access, to individual women and to encourage organisations within the industry to offer their financial support at a time when their female employees really need it. The alta platform is cost-effective and offers a safe and secure site for women to support one another.

Is now a good time to become a mentor or seek a mentor?

During the current pandemic, the restrictions on movement and new ways of working remotely have resulted in a physical disconnect from family, friends and colleagues. For those who already have an established mentoring relationship, this can be a crucial source of support, facilitating an opportunity for both mentor and mentee to discuss concerns and keep connected during this unprecedented time.

Any time is a good time to become or seek a mentor but in the current Covid-19 climate, it has never been so important. Mentoring via the alta platform is not only beneficial to the mentees who utilise it, but also for the development of mentors. Even more importantly, alta offers the opportunity to commence and continue safe mentoring, at a social distance, and to help to overcome feelings of isolation. It offers a space and time for reflection and the continued building of the alta community.

A huge thank you to Susan, Stella and Rosalind for their input in this blog. If you would like to find out more about the alta mentoring platform you can watch our webinar on the subject here, and visit the alta website here.


Six Top Tips for Video Interviews

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Moon Executive Search, Faculty of Business and Law Advisory Board member, have listed their top tips for video interviews in this insightful blog. Originally posted on Moon Executive Search.

We have learned some valuable lessons over the years whilst speaking with candidates and clients via video calls, and we hope that sharing them will help you succeed at your interview.

Interviewing candidates online has become increasingly popular for employers and is now necessary under the current circumstances of near lock down. This method of speaking to potential employees will likely be the future of recruiting.

Video conferencing apps, including WeChat Work, Zoom, HouseParty and Slack have had an enormous increase in downloads recently with FaceTime and WhatsApp video calls being used heavily for one to one conversation too. The use of video calls in work and home life show no sign of slowing down and will become the normal way for our clients to speak to candidates. We have found that there are certain habits and behaviours that will help you impress.

Here are six top tips to help you succeed at video interviews:

1) Smile – Video conferencing can be disconcerting, but everyone is in the same boat so embrace the situation, engage and show how much you want the role.

2) Check Your Tech – Making sure that your devices are charged and that you have signal is paramount to having a successful call. The failure of some connections is unavoidable, but the employer is likely to notice poor administration. Also, the rhythm of the interview could be broken by the interruption and could fluster the candidate. It is always worth considering and informing the employer that you have a back-up method of communication ready, just in case something goes wrong.

3) Clear the Room – Take anything that could be distracting away from the desk. Have your notes, your tech and a drink. Make sure that the door is shut, and the room is as quiet as possible. A clear room and desk will help you think with clarity and focus on the task in hand.

4) Dress to Impress – Just like a normal interview, look as presentable as possible. If you can find photos of the staff on social or their website, use these as a guide to how formally you should dress. The smarter you dress will influence how smart you act, so dress up and carry yourself elegantly, even if you are sitting in your living room.

5) Do Your Homework – Make sure that you know as much as possible; the history of the company and the important people that work there as well as financials, company set up, trading history and supply chain and competitors. Write notes based on the information on the website and try to ascertain everything you can about the culture. This will build confidence and the employer will notice your tone and posture through the lens.

6) Prepare Questions – When making notes about the company, write down 3-5 questions that you would like to know about the company that you can ask either throughout or ideally at the end of the interview. It is also a great idea to have bullet points ready to show case your skills and relevant to the role. The more in-depth your study, the more insightful the questions will be and the more chance that you will be hired. Asking just one insightful question can make all the difference.