The Women’s Work Lab and UWE Part 2

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For the last month, my team at UWE Bristol, the Stakeholder Engagement team, have had a guest with us on placement. This is part of an initiative set up by an amazing Community Interest Company called Women’s Work Lab.

Becky Ware has joined us and very quickly become a part of the team. I have seen her confidence grow, her enthusiasm spark new ideas and her creativity bring a fresh mind-set to challenges.  Here she shares her story about the power of Women’s Work Lab, and the vital support provided by many organisations, like UWE, in offering work placements.

“Being a single stay-at-home mum, it is easy to fall into a routine, and that routine becomes a comfort that is hard to break out of.

I have been out of work for just over 9 years, in that time I had a second child, and an operation on my kidney which I had to wait a few years for.

I was trying to motivate myself into job hunting, but didn’t know where to start, having had such a large career break.

I was lucky that I had a social prescriber who texted me unexpectedly one day advising about The Women’s Work Lab (WWL), I had a look at their website, and read through all the information, a 12-week programme where they help you to get back into work sounded ideal.

I applied on a Saturday and was offered a place on the course on the following Tuesday, I had a bit of apprehension, would I be any good? Am I really the type of person that they help? Am I deserving of this? But I decided that I had to give it a go, I owed myself the chance to improve my life, and that of my kids.

The Thursday of that week I went for my first day, I arrived and waited in reception with a group of other mums, all in the same position as me, none of us knowing, really, what to expect.

The WWL course was insightful and run by a wonderful lady called Sally, she had the experience to really give us all some good advice. I’m currently only halfway through the course, the experience so far has been amazing, I’ve met some wonderful mums who are in the same position as me, and I hope we keep in touch following the end of the course.

Part of the course is a four-week work placement, I was so nervous to find out where I would be going, as were the other mums, but I was delighted to find out my placement would be at the UWE.

I’m now in my job placement, working in the FBL.

The staff in the FBL have been so incredibly welcoming, and happy to spend time with me, considering I’m not a permanent member of staff, and will only be here for 4 weeks, the amount of time and help they’ve given me has been nothing short of wonderful, their support has really helped my experience and I am so excited about looking for a job and getting back to work, I’m not sure how encouraged I would have been if I didn’t have this support.

I’ve got new experiences that will help me in my job search, even something as simple as using outlook again, and getting back into work friendly habits. The confidence this placement has given me is worth its weight in gold.

I’m so thankful to everyone in both the FBL and the WWL, without them I would probably still be at home trying to figure out the best pathway for me to return to work, and still be around for my children.

I cannot recommend the WWL course highly enough, I’m looking forward to finishing the course with some more classroom work, but I will also be very sad to leave my placement, I really feel like part of the team.”

The Women’s Work Lab and UWE Part 1

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Camilla Rigby is the Co-Founder and Joint CEO of Women’s Work Lab (WWL), a Community Interest Company with the stated aim to support under-represented women aged 25+ to fulfil their career potential and become work ready. The WWL aims to unlock potential and lay the foundations for a brighter future for the mums they work with. Outcomes for participants include new careers, positive role modelling for their families and communities and the creation of a vital support network. Camilla was virtually reintroduced to UWE when they were looking for a venue to host the Spring 2022 South Gloucestershire programme.  

The mission of WWL is in line with UWE’s core values and as a UWE alumni, we were keen to support Camilla with her endeavours. Camilla studied Business Studies, completing in 2004.  

“I enjoyed my time studying at UWE and today, as a regional hub for business, and an educational provider with enterprise, community and industry partnership at its heart, UWE seemed like the perfect place to inspire our participants.” 

“Completing my Business Studies degree really opened my eyes to what the real world of work could look like. My year-long work placement provided an amazing springboard for my career and I managed to land my first job before I’d even graduated! I am still in touch with many friends from UWE days and it’s great to see how many have followed entrepreneurial pathways. ” 

The WWL programme includes bespoke classroom training, 1-2-1 support, skills training, practical career support and a four-week work placement. During 2022, 90 women will be supported in this way across six programmes taking place in the local city/ region.  

Before Co-Founding the WWL with Rachel Mostyn in 2019, Camilla had a 15 year career in senior communications roles for household brands including Dyson & OVO Energy. As a Mum to two boys aged 9 & 11 (one who is autistic), she understands first-hand the challenges that Mums can face trying to support her family alongside work.  

“My inspiration in co-founding WWL came back in 2016 when I felt unable to juggle the pressures of work and a young family; I felt like a failure to be honest. I recognised at the same time the privilege I had and began to question how much harder it must be for women who don’t have a decent support network, or lots of work experience. I was fortunate enough to meet Rachel during this time of reflection and we began to research what was available for Mums that were unemployed and in receipt of state benefits. Turns out very little and so we set about co-designing the programme with Mums from across the City into what we have now. We’re proud to have worked with over 100 womens on their journeys back towards work, whilst building an amazing team of women who really connect and inspire the Mums we support.” 

UWE has been proud to host this inspiring initiative and work with the local community to improve outcomes for mothers who have been challenged in some way in terms of securing work. This programme really aligns with our Strategy 2030 in boosting our economy and supporting the local and regional community, and has massive societal impact which is so rewarding and essential for continued growth and success. 

“We feel as though this is just the beginning for the Women’s Work Lab. Having started in early 2020, covid has unsurprisingly hampered what we’ve been able to achieve. That said, in 2021 we know that 60% of the women we supported are now working; this is testament to their hard work and determination. It also shows why specialist employability support is so needed and it’s amazing to have the support of employers like UWE in helping these women to fulfil their potential.” 

If you would be interested in finding out more about the work of WWL, you can find additional information via their website here

Empowering refugee entrepreneurs

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Blog from Berrbizne Urzelai, Team coach- Senior Lecturer, UWE Bristol and Scarlett Hagger, Project Support Officer, West of England Combined Authority.

On 16 March UWE Bristol hosted a Social Impact Hackathon – a start-up brainstorming event where UWE students from Team Entrepreneurship, Law, and Business and Management (some of them Enactus members too) worked with refugee and migrant entrepreneurs associated with the West of England Growth Hub and ACH to solve the problems they are facing in their entrepreneurial journey.

The day started with a social breakfast where all participants got to know a bit about each other. The event officially kicked off with an inspirational speech from Fuad Mahamed, the CEO of ACH and an International Ambassador for Bristol. Fuad came to the UK as a refugee from Somalia with no English, and went on to obtain a first-class degree in Engineering from Bath University followed by an MSc in Management from Lancaster Business School.

Setting up ACH in 2008 in order to support the resettlement of refugees like himself, he has built the organisation into one of the leading providers of integration support for excluded and marginalised people. It now spans across 3 cities, employs 65 people and works with 2500 individuals a year.

The Migrant Business Support (MBS) project started in January 2021 and offers enterprise support to third-country nationals through one-to-one sessions, workshops, mentoring and online training. As of April 2022, the project has supported over 200 refugees and migrants in the West Midlands and Southwest.

The MBS project differs from other mainstream business support as it has cross-culturally competent Business Advisers, training and workshops that are translated into different languages for different nationalities and has a ground-up approach from listening to their clients and tailoring the service to their needs, which in turn leads to a constantly evolving service.

The West of England Growth Hub provides tailored support, expert guidance and access to finance and support programmes to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the West of England. The Growth Hub offers a free and impartial service open to all businesses, from all sectors, helping businesses throughout Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

In the morning the teams worked together in understanding the background of the refugees and what kind of problems they were facing, and then in deciding which issue they wanted to focus on. Having the client inside the team was an interesting experience.

The students supported a variety of projects and ventures, from a carwash business to graphic design or craft art… all at different stages of development.

The teams pitched their solutions to a panel that was formed by:
• Shuai Qin: CRÈME, Aston Business School
• Nigel Stone: TE UWE Mentor in Residence
• Sebastian Crawshaw: TE UWE Mentor in Residence

They were all great and the panellists gave them very valuable feedback to guide them into the next steps of their projects. They really enjoyed the experience:

“So humbled to support such talented refugee in the ACH refugee Hackathon last week! It was an awesome experience, well done everyone! If only we could recognise and embrace immigrants’ skills and embrace them into our culture more. What a difference that would make to all of us.”

Nigel Stone

The event helped the participants develop skills and competencies such as team working, problem-solving, leadership, innovation, networking or building rapport and empathy. It was great to feel that energy in the room and how motivated everyone was on the task.

“It was such an insightful day. It was lovely to meet the refugees and to learn about their businesses and their talents and passions. They were truly inspirational with so much to offer and I learnt a lot from them too. I have kept in touch with M. and S. I am aiming to ask S. for some advice on graphic designs and calligraphy for one of my projects. I would like to go to the craft sale to see more of M’s beautiful work and to get to know M. and S. better and what goes on in their community. I look forward to getting to know everyone who took part and I am excited about the next steps. It was a really amazing day and we should definitely do more of these. Thank you for making it all run so smoothly.”

L.J.

“I thought the event was excellent, was great to speak to people from different backgrounds and hear their experiences. It was also fun working with other students from other subjects. It was massively out of my normal comfort zone but I soon got on with everyone really well and enjoyed the day. I learnt that there are many barriers that refugees can face, the language barrier seemed to be a difficult one at times, but refugees have a lot to offer in a range of skills. I will be emailing M. what I created for her and follow up with further advice for her business. The contacts I made in the team will be useful in the future for further projects and ventures.”

T.A.


Refugee entrepreneurs also found it useful and are taking some steps forward within their businesses:


“I learnt not to waste my time on things that will not develop my future… from here I began to reconsider my situation. I have enjoyed speaking with people with experience, from different fields. This is the first time that I feel that I have taken real advice from someone who does not know me… a good advice. My plan is to contact these suggested people and engage in 1:1 support.”

S.


“It was a great event for me. I learned that I need to make a business plan first and know better my audience. The panel members gave us great advice. I learned a lot from them, it was very helpful as they have experience. I am not sure yet how I will carry on with all that feedback, but I am now working to reopen my Etsy shop.”

M.


The event had a fantastic celebratory feel. It was not a competition but a celebration of what we can do together. Participants also got some certificates and a UWE digital badge thanks to Lynda Williams, Associate Director of Stakeholder Engagement. We are looking forward to continuing this partnership and supporting them during their journey.

We just planted the sheet and the magic happened! We have now shared the material created during the day and created a communication channel for the participants to continue to work together on these and other projects. We are looking forward to continuing this partnership and supporting them during their journey.

Using creativity to educate

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UWE Bristol has announced the dropping of the BAME acronym. Work like this looks at supporting not only the learning and assessment of students but the re-enforcement of UWE’s commitment to a fairer and more just learning environment, where everybody is recognised as an individual with different support needs.

Alongside this agenda, several Level 2 Bristol Business School students have been working to create engaging online campaigns to raise awareness of racism in football. English football has been at the forefront of the fight against racism in sport, with recent and ongoing events that have tainted the sport from the World Cup, right down to grassroots football.

Every day, news stories are serving to remind us all that this isn’t something that happens occasionally, but is in fact endemic in the systems of sport that we are all part of. Our Level 2 students were tasked with educating themselves, having open discussions with peers, and using their creative marketing skills to develop a social media campaign that could affect behaviour change.

The focus for the students working on this assignment was to firstly educate themselves by researching the experiences of Black footballers, understanding what the key issues were and then moving on to establish how they could connect with the footballing audience in order to educate and affect behaviour.

This led to some really challenging and open discussions in the classroom between both White and Black students. I recall a student asking his peer ‘well, what is it actually like being Black and being here, in this room and you’re the only one’. It became evident that not only was this learning space developing our Marketing students’ knowledge of digital marketing, but it was also engaging them in discussions they possibly would not have had.

Our hope is that by creating more challenging assessments, based on real and very palpable issues that are usually avoided, educators can start to get students to see other perspectives, learn about the lived experiences of others and ultimately, educate themselves.

UWE Bristol houses UK’s first on-campus aeroponic grow system for student business

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A vertical farming system, set up on Frenchay campus using aeroponic technology to grow and supply micro herbs and baby leaf plants, is the first of its kind to be located at a UK university. The system is being used by student venture Greener Greens Co, which Jamie Taylor founded as part of his Team Entrepreneurship degree.

The 40ft container farm, supplied by LettusGrow, provides 24m2 of growing area and houses a four-tiered vertical grow-bed. The growing process uses a software that automates LED lighting, temperature and water vapour. Nutrients are delivered to the plants via atomisers that spray an organic, nutrient-dense fog onto exposed roots (a technique called ‘aeroponics’).

Greener Greens’ plants are to include petit arugula, pea shoots, coriander, basil, pak choy and other small sprouting plants like micro broccoli, which take 11-30 days to reach full height. During this time, cycle pH levels, humidity and organic nutrient levels are automatically regulated.

Jamie Taylor said: “Nature is seasonal, but in this container farm we create our own climate to produce seasonal produce all year round. This is a really innovative system that uses no soil, no pesticides, with crop yields using 95 per cent less water and 99% less space compared to conventional land-based farming.”

The entrepreneur said Greener Greens’ ethos is to have a lower carbon footprint compared to other suppliers and, by providing a growth area close to the point of need, reduce food transportation miles. It is also reducing a reliance on single unit plastic by using re-usable containers to transport the plants.

Team Entrepreneurship is a degree that helps students set up a business as a team. Jamie said: “All this has only been achievable thanks to the University. Key support from UWE Bristol’s enterprise, estates, environmental and sustainability, and catering teams has been crucial in working out how to run the business and how to introduce Greener Greens produce into the university’s supply chain.”

The system is set to produce some 200kg of pea shoots per month, as this plant variety has a short grow cycle of just 12 days. Initially the vegetables will supply the University and other local customers. The enterprise then plans to set up further containers, supplying the super yacht business. “Head chefs on board need high quality produce fast so we have an opportunity to reduce carbon footprint in this industry by setting up a container in the South of France.

“Many existing suppliers to that industry use pesticides and the produce is sometimes flown over 5000 miles to Nice, which leaves a large carbon footprint.”

Greener Greens is also building a geo-temporal inventory app that will allow its customers to see what is growing in which container, so they can place orders and receive fresher produce faster. The app will also allow chefs, for the first time ever, to specify the size and shape of their salads and garnishes in-app and create bespoke garnishes.

Jamie and his Greener Greens system set up on Frenchay campus was featured in yesterday evening’s edition of the BBC’s Countryfile, available to view on iPlayer (from 29:51).

Student spotlight: Placement special

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As part of our Business and Law student spotlight 2021, we spoke to three students about their placements and what this means for their futures.

Jack’s placement

  • Where: Old Mill Financial Planning, working with the private client team as a Client Service Associate
  • When: July 2021
  • Programme: Banking and Finance
Jack Tierney portrait

“It was a relief to secure a placement within my desired industry and with a firm that has such a great reputation. I am looking forward to gaining a full year of industry experience within financial services and making good connections to build a solid network for when I graduate. The hands-on experience I will gain will help me significantly when I pursue professional qualifications.

My main tips for others wanting to do a placement are; firstly, don’t get disheartened if you get rejected, file the email away and keep on applying. I think I must have been rejected over 50 times before I got this one. Secondly, use any family connection that you can, this may be in the form of a family friend working in the industry or previously worked. Arrange a phone call or a coffee to pick their brains as well as a CV review to gain industry-specific knowledge. Lastly, all you are looking for is to get a face-to-face interview! Once you are there, you can build rapport with the hiring manager. Remember, all it takes is one application per day.”

Stefano’s placement

  • Where: Hargreaves Lansdown
  • When: July 2019 to July 2020
  • Programme: Accounting and Finance
Stefano Chiavelli portrait

“My placement year has been an incredible opportunity to work in a great firm, surrounded by brilliant individuals whilst establishing great connections both in and out of work.

I have gained so much during this year including commercial awareness, improved professionalism, an enhanced CV, broadened my network of like-minded individuals and dealt with the inevitable challenges that come as a result of working at an FTSE 100 company.

My advice to others would be to start early! Do your research and look beyond the company’s website for information. Be passionate about the firm’s mission and vision and prove that you are an asset to them.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela. We as students often struggle to believe in ourselves, in our own capabilities and tend to focus on what could go wrong… as opposed to what could go right! Thus, I thought this quote might inspire someone to take a leap of faith and work at your goals relentlessly, as though you truly deserve that place/job/role.”

Tom’s placement

  • Where: Microsoft, working within their Consulting services as an Account Delivery Executive
  • When: July 2021
  • Programme: Business Management and Economics
Thomas Carter portrait

“I am extremely excited to be doing my placement at such an innovative and dynamic company. I am hoping this placement will allow me to expand my network and gain customer-facing experience and technical skills.

I wanted to do a placement to firstly gain work experience that is valuable when looking for a job but also to identify whether the tech industry is the right path for me when I graduate.

My advice to others who are wanting to do a placement is to really focus on tailoring your application to the specific company you’re applying to. Do your research, be confident and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Sophie’s placement journey at MHI

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As part of his role on the Business and Management advisory board here at UWE Bristol, MHI CEO Paul Brown advocates for getting students ready for SME employment once they enter the working world. In 2019, MHI introduced the ‘MHI placement student scheme’, offering UWE students the opportunity to join the team for a year of industry experience.

We caught up with Sophie Cottrell, a Business and Marketing student on placement at MHI for the past 10 months.

How have you found adjusting from student life to working life? What have you enjoyed?

“Initially it was a challenge. The days felt long as I was adjusting to a full working day as opposed to the odd one-hour lecture. And as for student nights out, Covid has worked in my favour as I haven’t missed out on any which made the adjustment easier! I have really enjoyed having a routine. I now find that I fit so much into my days, enjoying keeping busy and feeling productive. I hope to carry this mindset into my final year of University.”

Which has been your favourite department to work in?

“This is a difficult question, as I have benefitted so much from working in different departments. It has really consolidated my knowledge of the business. But also, because I’m afraid I might offend the “marketing boys” when I say my favourite department has been Client Services. I enjoyed the process of following a job through from start to finish. I found the role challenging, with most tasks being completely new to me, but that made it even more interesting!”

What advice would you give to the next placement student?

“My advice for life is to always remember that every day is an opportunity to start afresh. If you find yourself having a challenging day, just remember that the following one comes with a fresh slate.”

What are your plans post-university?

“I’m hoping to complete a ski season in France for the winter after I graduate. I was debating doing one before Uni but thought I better at least learn to cook and look after myself before I host a chalet! I’ve been lucky enough to ski since I was 6 and love the entire experience. The feeling, the views, and the overall lifestyle. My plans are then to focus on securing a job. But for now, I would like a few more experiences before things get too serious in the world of work.”

“I’d like to thank everyone at MHI for their continued support, and I look forward to seeing how much more I can learn in my final 2 months.”

This article was originally posted on the MHI newsletter.

To hear about more stories like this, sign up for our External Engagement newsletter here.

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.”

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

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