Professor Peter Case working on “Improving Program Management for Malaria Elimination in Southern Africa” project

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Professor Peter Case, Professor of Organisation studies at the Bristol Business School, has been working on a Malaria Elimination Project in Southern Africa.

Contracted by the Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) based at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Peter has  been working with a team of locally employed consultants to deliver leadership and organization development workshops to National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) staff in Zimbabwe and Swaziland during the 2016-17 malaria season.

The project came about and was informed by key findings and recommendations by a program management report for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-authored by Peter and an article he published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The workshops have been very well received by NMCP staff at all levels and, on the basis of positive results, Peter has been awarded further funding of 150K USD to consolidate the work in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. He is also hoping to expand activities to some neighbouring countries in the 2017-18 malaria season.

UWE Bristol new Business School building contractor wins gold at the National Considerate Constructors Awards

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ISG, the contractor for the new Bristol Business School, recently won Gold at the National Considerate Constructors Awards.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme’s National Site Awards recognise those sites registered with the Scheme that have raised the bar for considerate construction.

Since 1999, the Scheme has been rewarding the UK’s most considerate sites for the contribution they have made towards improving the image of construction. The Scheme looks at the measures a site has put in place to be more considerate towards local neighbourhoods and the public, the workforce, and the environment.

ISG and the team won Gold due to an outstanding site appearance which was achieved through measures including site checks carried out by a director to ensure that presentation was consistent with branding and the site portrayed a positive image.

Both the client and contractor took a joint interest in community engagement and many goodwill activities were undertaken. Local businesses were used and local labour was estimated to be 88% of the workforce.

A full range of energy-saving measures were in place including carbon footprint monitoring and the use of cycles and public transport, which was estimated to have saved over 200 car journeys. The site provided the latest safety and risk information for visitors and operatives through briefing and posted information, being mindful of those with language or hearing difficulties.

Together with first class training and care and support programmes for operatives, this site demonstrated a total commitment to improving the image of construction.

Congratulations to the team!

More updated on the new build can be found on the new build blog.

Cake in the Office – health hazard or edible symbols of collegiality and teamwork?

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Guest blog: By Dr Harriet Shortt, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Bristol Business School

I am sure many of us are familiar with cake in the office – cakes to celebrate a colleague’s birthday, cake sales for fundraisers in the office canteen, exotic sweet treats brought back by co-workers returning from holiday, and office bake-offs between competitive teams.

The BBC reported last year that this ‘office cake culture was a danger to health’ and the Royal College of Surgeons argue ‘workplace cake culture’ is impacting the health of workers in the UK, citing obesity and dental problems as key issues caused by such activities. The latest report from the Royal Society for Public Health (published in August 2016 and featured here on the Work Wise UK guest blog by Shirley Cramer CBE in November 2016) discusses the impact of rush hour commuting on our health and well-being and notes that unhealthy food and drinks that are made available by outlets in train stations during our commute is potentially adding ‘an average of 767 calories’ to our diets each week. And only in January of this year, The Telegraph reported that civil servants had been warned that ‘office cake culture could be a public health hazard’ by a blog post written by a member of the Treasury’s ‘Wellbeing Workstream’.

Whilst I am not disputing the issues raised in these reports – they highlight important timely and relevant concerns around the health of the UK workforce – I would like to raise some further questions and thoughts about what other role cake plays in our offices today. Office cake culture isn’t just about health concerns – my argument here is that food plays a vital social, cultural and political role in office life and organisations should be considerate of the relationships and interactions that are centred around food.

I have been doing some research in a large public sector organisation about the food and drink consumed in their office – or more specifically, their new open-plan office. I am exploring the interconnectedness of food, work, people and space and considering how the ‘foodscape’ (where and how people encounter food in the built environment) of the workplace influences food consumption and social interactions at work. I have been asking: In what ways does space influence where we eat, what we eat and with whom? What is the role of food in our organisational environment and how does it impact everyday spatial practices? How might formal and informal eating practices alter our everyday experiences of space at work?

To help address some of these questions, I asked the staff I worked with to take photographs of their daily interactions with food in the office. They took photographs of food in the canteen, home-made cakes on desks, tins of biscuits on locker tops, and where they made tea and coffee. They talked to me about what meanings these held and why they were important in their everyday lives.

Some of the findings show how formal, designated spaces for eating and drinking, such as the canteen and tea stations, are popular with many workers. Eating lunch in the canteen with groups of friends is a daily ritual and provides opportunities to talk about personal lives, gossip, and a time and space to share hobbies and interests. The tea stations, designed by management and the architects to provide a space in which workers could meet whilst making a hot drink, are identified as ‘nice chatting areas’. However, although the tea stations provide a space to share a few words with colleagues and allow for chance meetings with others, due to their central public location in the open-plan office conversations here are brief and inhibited by the visible and audible nature of the space. Participants noted these drinking spaces were neither suitable for private or work related discussions.

During our discussions, workers reflected on their new open-plan, hot-desking environment and told me they felt this workplace design impacted negatively on teams and working practices: ‘…we just don’t get the banter around the office…not social banter, but I mean sort of asking for advice on what we’re doing…now we’re hot-desking it can be isolating…and there are too many people around’. In amongst these feelings of isolation, what these workers really appeared to value was the informal, ad-hoc sharing of food at desks and on locker tops in walkways and corridors. It is the ability to share food across this new office space that workers identify as key to bringing people back together and reconnecting conversations. Sharing food in this way is an important catalyst in promoting work based discussions and internal networking; ‘…people come and see us when we have food! It gets people talking…’ and ‘…cake, it’s really important…it breaks up the day, gives us a treat…it impacts on morale in a big way’.

It is worth reflecting here that, as a number of researchers have noted, open-plan offices are often designed with collaboration and teamwork in mind, yet here we see the word ‘isolating’ being used to describe how this new open-plan space is experienced by its users. It is somewhat ironic that workers feel isolated with ‘…too many people around’. Nonetheless, it seems it’s the combination of both open-plan space with food that produces a collaborative working environment for these workers. Indeed, one employee describes the placement of food on locker tops as how people ‘…display their wares and encourage people to talk more’ and how this ‘…encourages passers-by to stop, talk a bit of shop, eat and move on’.

Paradoxically, despite all the talk of talk, social interactions and connecting over cake, workers also identify the inability to eat alone as problematic. The very sociality of eating poses privacy issues for some and the open-plan, hot-desking environment presents particular challenges. Some identify the canteen as a space where the ‘pressure to talk’ is unwelcome. The canteen has been designed and is used by many as a social space where bench seating and long tables promote conversation and create a setting where meals are eaten together. Yet, for example, one worker told me ‘…I just want go and sit and eat my lunch and get back to work’ and is frustrated there is no opportunity, or rather no space, in which he might dine alone. The spatial and social expectations in the canteen are such that talking over lunch is a prerequisite. Indeed, a number of workers deliberately choose to eat lunch at alternative times of the day in order to avoid eating with others.

Consequently, alternative spaces for private dining are frequently sought out. Almost half the workers I spoke to took photographs outside the office, at various locations in the nearby city centre that captured where they liked to eat, including cafes, parks, and benches by the river: ‘…I can…sit on the green and have a bit of peace and quiet and eat my sandwich’. Others talked about finding alternative meeting and eating spots in cafes so they could ‘…talk about sensitive materials…’ over lunch or ‘…have a bit of a gossip…’ As we heard, the tea stations offer a nice chatting area, but as one worker said ‘…you’ve got to be careful because obviously now we are open plan, everyone near that area can hear what you’re saying!’ It seems only certain sorts of conversations can be had over food in the office and if privacy is required, alternative eating spots are pursued.

So far, my research has unearthed a complex picture of the foodscape of work – it throws new light on the appropriation of space in the office, re-defined by workers as informal eating locations and spaces for informal munching and chatting, vital for their morale, team communications and internal networking. It has also emphasised that the boundaries of a workplace foodscape are fluid and that we don’t just eat in the office and we don’t always want to eat with others. Sometimes solace is sought and eating a sandwich alone offers workers rare moments of contemplation and reflection in an otherwise impermanent, visible, and public working world.

In this current climate of health and well-being programmes and the drive for a healthy workforce, organisations might wish to take heed of the complex meanings of food across the landscape of work before implementing such programmes or raising alarm bells that cake in the office is a public health hazard. Indeed, other discourses around health and eating at work promote messages that food should only be consumed in designated eating spaces, and not at ones desk. This comes from other health and safety perspectives where workers are encouraged to take ‘proper breaks’ and avoid working through lunch breaks as well as organisations who demand a clean and tidy office, with clear rules ‘not to eat at your desk’.

However, if organisations are serious about understanding the eating habits of their employees, they should understand that food matters at work, but not just in the canteen and not just in relation to health. If organisations wish to remove food from parts of the office, they should be mindful that they are potentially removing the very catalyst that promotes sociality at work and confiscating edible symbols of collegiately.

In addition, organisations must be wary of their disciplinary approach to eating in the office and how, perhaps, this undermines the needs of some workers and marginalises others’ food choices and behaviour. We might reflect on the lack of space in which workers are able to eat privately and consider that eating at ones desk is perhaps less about working through a lunch hour, and actually more about simply creating a personal space in which to eat alone and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet.

I hope that some of the questions I raise here, and in my research, may provide a starting point for other, future research into food, eating and the workplace – we might want to consider; what do the foodscapes of homeworkers look like and how are they experienced? How are foodscapes experienced and constructed by workers on the move or flexible workers without desks or offices? To what extent should we be concerned with ‘office cake culture’ given its social, cultural and political importance for workers? It is with these questions in mind that I end this blog and ponder over the future of food in the workplace, over a sandwich and coffee at my desk.

Harriet’s research will be published in a book later this year: Kingma, S., Dale K. & Wasserman, V. (Eds.). Organizational space and beyond: The significance of Henri Lefebvre for organizational studies – an edited collection. London: Routledge. Harriet will be discussing her research at the 12th Organization Studies Summer Workshop ‘Food Organizing Matters: paradoxes, problems and potentialities’ in Crete 18th -20th May 2017. Harriet is also supervising UWE Bristol Business School dissertation student Susannah Robinson, who is exploring the culture of food at work in a multinational organisation in London.

Original blog post taken from Work Wise.

Team Entrepreneurs Respond to Anchor Society Challenge

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As part of their degree studies, our Team Entrepreneur students were set the challenge to develop proposals for extensions to Anchor Society’s services to the elderly.

The Anchor Society aims to support isolated and lonely elderly in Bristol and the surrounding area with financial and housing support as well as visiting and befriending them.

The students were set the challenge by CEO of the Anchor Society Richard Pendlebury MBE DL, with help from Behind the Scenes, who specialise in the production of live experiences. Richard presented the brief to the students during a day-long workshop on social entrepreneurship.

The event was hosted by Burges Salmon who provided full conference facilities in their Bristol head-office whilst the challenge was being set.

The Team Entrepreneur students had under two weeks to work on the project and come up with proposals for Anchor Society which were presented back to a panel consisting of Richard; Laura Barrell, Behind the Scenes and Vicki Underhill, Burges Salmon.

Richard commented “The students put on excellent presentations and there were some really good ideas out there. They were certainly a credit to the university”

Vicki added “I was blown away by the professionalism of the presentations for the client. In the short time allocated, the students really grabbed the challenge and spotted the opportunities”. 

Team Entrepreneur is a ground-breaking, innovative and entrepreneurial degree which gives students the opportunity to set-up and run their own team company; to ‘learn by doing’ whilst gaining a broad-based business degree. More information can be found on the degree here.

UWE Bristol awards an honorary degree to Lord Michael Bichard

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Lord Michael Bichard has been awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of his service to Government.

The Honorary Degree was conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law on Tuesday 19 July 2016 at Bristol Cathedral.

Michael Bichard was born in Southampton where his father was a school caretaker. He studied law at Manchester (and subsequently social sciences at Birmingham) and began a career in Local Government in Reading. He became Chief Executive of the London Borough of Brent aged 32 and then became Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council. With considerable reluctance he left the County to lead the Governments Benefit Agency then responsible for £100 billions of public money. To his surprise he was appointed Permanent Secretary of the Employment Department when that post was, for the first time, advertised publically and then became Permanent Secretary of the merged Employment and Education Department shortly before the 1997 Election. In that role he worked closely with the Prime Minister and David Blunkett to deliver education reforms which were the centre piece of Labour’s first term. In 2001 he decided to do something completely different and for the next seven years was Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts, London, the largest creative arts learning centre in Europe.

During this period, he also chaired the inquiry into the Soham murders; chaired the Legal Services Commission and the Design Council. He became the first Director of the Institute for Government in 2008 and is now Chair of the National Audit Office, the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the Shakespeare Globe. He was knighted in 1999 and appointed as a Crossbench member of the House of Lords in 2010 where he is now a Deputy Speaker. He had lived in Gloucestershire on and off for 30 years and is now settled with his wife Gillian in Nailsworth. He has had contact with UWE Bristol  since he came to Gloucestershire and recently agreed to chair the faculty advisory board for the Business School. He has been an active supporter of Manchester United for fifty years and is glad to see the end of the current season!

UWE Bristol awards an honorary degree to Penny Gane

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Penny Gane has been awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of her commitment to inclusivity and equality.

The Honorary Degree was conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law on Monday 18 July 2016 at Bristol Cathedral.

Penny was born into a Bristol family of furniture makers, known for commissioning the architect Marcel Breuer to design modernist furniture. When the family business closed after the war her immediate family hit hard times and Penny later won a free scholarship to the Red Maids’ School which was a charity school at that time. Girls cleaned the classrooms before breakfast, slept in large cold dormitories and wore starched white pinafores over their red woollen uniforms. Beyond the school gates the Swinging Sixties were happening.

Penny studied English and Latin Literature to Masters level at university and gained a teaching qualification. Her first job however, was in a residential hostel for troubled teenage girls in a tough area of Newcastle on Tyne. She returned to Bristol in 1976 and spent ten years teaching secondary school English and Drama.

After a career break to have children she joined Bristol City Council. Over the following twelve years she set up Bristol’s centre for sustainable development, CREATE, was a District Director leading on environment and community safety, and established and managed the Bristol Partnership to develop Bristol’s Community Strategy.

She then moved on to become Director of Public Private Partnerships with the Tribal Group developing large scale projects in Health and Education across the country. She subsequently co-founded a consultancy in equalities and human rights, building on the work she had developed with the Bristol Partnership and which aligned with long held beliefs in social justice. She also trained to be an executive coach and mentor.

During this time Penny acted as a non-executive director with NHS Bristol, chairing the Equalities Strategy Group and leading on Patient and Public Involvement. After this she became a board member of EME, a funding body of the Medical Research Council where she had responsibility for Patient and Public Involvement and was able to influence funding decisions by putting patients at the forefront of considerations.

Her consultancy was commissioned to establish a network of women in Bristol able to influence decision makers and tackle gender inequality. Working with women to establish Bristol Women’s Voice, she was herself elected to its chair a year later, a position she has held for three years. The membership has grown to two thousand and become an influential voice in the running of the city.

She and others persuaded the elected Mayor of Bristol to sign the European Charter of Equality of Women and Men in Local Life and he in turn proposed setting up a Women’s Commission which Penny was appointed to chair. The Commission has developed initiatives including the Zero Tolerance Campaign and 50-50 Women’s Representation. It is now a standing commission of the Council. Bristol remains the only UK signatory to the charter.

Penny was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts in 2015 in recognition of her ‘outstanding work for women’s equality’.

For relaxation and exhilaration Penny sings in a small chamber choir. She also tackles the Guardian cryptic crossword and reads voraciously.

First students on course which has become hotbed for start-ups poised to graduate

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The first group of students to embark on a pioneering degree course which has produced a flurry of new ventures and start-up companies are preparing to graduate.

Next week, the first cohort of students to join the Team Entrepreneurshipprogramme at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) three years ago will pick up their degrees at a ceremony at the city’s cathedral.

The course is one of only a handful of its type in the UK dedicated to giving undergraduates the practical experience to launch and run their own ventures.

An alternative to a traditional degree, students on the course work to a tailored programme to equip themselves with entrepreneurial and teamwork skills ready to launch their own businesses or become effective team players within dynamic and changing organisations. On graduating, many of the 35 third year students will go on to run their companies on a full-time basis.

Among the fledgling firms launched by Team Entrepreneurship students are:

· Crowdreach – An agency which helps entrepreneurs raise capital through crowdfunding. Formed by undergraduates Rob Wilson, Bradley Green and Will Dooley, the business has raised more than £135,000 for a variety of innovative products since it was established 18 months ago.

· Pelico – A healthy food delivery service developing meals using locally-sourced and organic ingredients, transporting them to time-strapped office workers by electric vehicle. The company – started by Leyth Hampshire and Alex Gatehouse – has been accepted onto the Seed Fund accelerator programme for promising food industry start-ups.

· Unique Insights – Uses sophisticated analytical software to help universities reduce their undergraduate drop-out rates. Two universities have agreed to use the system and another five have expressed an interest in the approach, devised by Jamie Rawsthorne and George Sanderson.

· Classic Bahnstormers – A business buying and restoring classic BMWs. Steve Curtis, the company’s founder, plans to open a dealership having secured premises in Gloucestershire.

Up to 60 students a year are now joining the ground-breaking BA (Hons) Team Entrepreneurship course which was inspired by successful methods pioneered in Finland and tested in Spain and Hungary. The programme’s undergraduates – known as Team Entrepreneurs – develop skills in everything from event and budget management to marketing, PR and graphic design.

Adrian Rivers, Lead for the BA in Team Entrepreneurship programme, hailed the course a major success.

He said: “Those that join the course come here because our Team Entrepreneurship is a radical programme suited to those that want to develop and practice entrepreneurial skills.

“Students put into practice the topics that they would learn about on a traditional business degree and their learning is embedded as they reflect on their experience with the support of a Team Coach and other University academics. When students are learning about marketing, they are actually doing it and when they are learning about finance, they are actually doing it.”

Mr Rivers said the students, known as Team Entrepreneurs, are actively involved in the running of the course which is structured to feed undergraduates’ creativity and strengthen their self-reliance.

He said: “The Coaches and other staff on the programme give huge amounts of support to the students, but we don’t spoon feed them. They have to spot the opportunities and make the best of the programme. That’s what entrepreneurs do – make the best of the opportunities around them.

“Rather than waiting in the classroom to be told what to learn, the students have to practise being self-reliant in order to be successful.

“What everyone says is the students on this course have a degree of maturity, self-reliance and confidence which is above what you would expect.”

Following the success of the degree programme, a master’s course in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship will be launched at UWE Bristol from September which will use the same methods as the undergraduate programme. Both courses will be based in the new £50 million Faculty of Business and Law building on Frenchay campus from December.

Of the new course, Mr Rivers said: “It will be a one-year programme based on the Team Entrepreneurship principles. It is ideally suited to people who might have a business idea they want to develop or who might be looking to develop ideas in the future.”

Former music teacher Steve Curtis, 31, founder of car restoration start-up Classic Bahnstormers, is among the students preparing to graduate from the course on Monday (July 18).

He said: “I had always bought and sold cars as a hobby, making a few hundred pounds here and there, but I wanted to make it scalable. This course has shown me just that – how to build a brand, develop a reputation and have people coveting your work. Throughout the course the support we have received from our Team Coaches has been staggering.”

Andy Francksen, founder of Target Student, which connects SMEs in Bristol with the local student market through a range of cost-effective promotional services, said: “The biggest thing that I have learnt on the course is the ability to work in teams. I have also grown in confidence and can now speak to anyone in any situation. If you go through this course your mindset will change for life.”

Those sentiments were echoed by fellow student Jasmine Sommers, who said: “I have found this course amazing. It suits my needs as I have been able to be flexible with my learning within a supportive environment. I am a much better team player now, a better listener and much more employable.”

Toby Bartholomew, who established innovation consultancy services company Creative Monkey Solutions while on the course, said: “I can genuinely say that I am proud to have been on this course. I am proud of the person I have become and I am proud of the team that is around me. I would not change the process I have been through.”