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Nottinghamshire businesses given an international perspective on growth thanks to student consultancy projects

Nottinghamshire organisations have been receiving advice on growth with an international perspective thanks to teams of student consultants from Nottingham Business School (NBS).

Newton building
The MSc Consultancy Projects at Nottingham Business School support businesses with a variety of real challenges

The MSc Consultancy Projects at NBS are usually undertaken face-to-face but went entirely online during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Groups of postgraduate students from courses which span economics, management, marketing, accounting and finance, and human resources were tasked with solving real challenges for local businesses.

This year 347 students from countries across the world, including the UK, China, US, and Europe were placed into 74 different teams and were assigned one of 29 unique and real-life business briefs which covered topics such as customer engagement, web presence, costing and operations, and international markets.

Teams of five acted as consultants, often while located in their home countries, for a six-week period, producing a written report and a verbal presentation which outlined findings and recommendations for their allocated organisation.

Shop Zero in Nottingham focuses on providing quality sustainable goods with minimal packaging and a lower environmental impact. Owner, Sarah Maloy, needed to quickly establish an online store due to the COVID-19 restrictions. She asked the students for help with developing the website: “Venturing into online sales was totally new for me, so having the students look at this was invaluable. There were a variety of recommendations in the reports from looking at website optimisation to ideas for social media campaigns.

“They have certainly got me focussed. I feel much more knowledgeable about website development and marketing to engage better with my customers. This helps to target my limited time and resources. Having so many ideas in one place in the report means that I can plan for developments in the short and long term.”

Sarah Maloy in her shop
Sarah Maloy, owner of Shop Zero, sought help with expanding her business online. Image by Dom Rekas.

Bob Eyre, owner of Eyre Trailers, manufactures new and bespoke agricultural trailers. He set the students a task to assess the viability of taking a cereal harvesting product internationally. Three groups focused on an international region each. He commented: “What it showed me in particular was the ability of the students, their willingness to take onboard a completely alien project and to accept that we were in our infancy regarding exporting our product.

“They helped us to identify our markets in preference order, for example common language, import restrictions, country culture, common opponents/competition, and transport logistics.

“I found the project quite exciting, I had never before sat in front of 15 well rounded and clearly focused young people from all parts of the world, people who wanted to understand our needs and who then set about their tasks with determination.”

The School of Calisthenics offers bodyweight training and expanded rapidly online during lockdown. Co-founder, Ben Thompson, was looking to explore customer behaviour and get an inside view on future opportunities with a key target market in the student sector. He said: “In the face of adversity the students worked hard together to produce some wonderful results and some clear action points that the business could act on. We have listened to what they have said from both accounting and marketing perspective and implemented some of their findings already.”

The students who take part in the Consultancy Projects are assessed on the work as part of their course.

Patrick Schulz, an MSc Finance and Accounting student from Germany, worked on the brief for the School of Calisthenics. He said: “I am really glad to see that our work had an impact for the business and that we met the expectations. It was great to be part of such a multi-cultural team and I learnt a lot about how to work together even under difficult circumstances.”

Matthieu Degouy is studying an MSc in Management & Finance after spending an exchange year at Nottingham Business School during his undergraduate studies in Paris. His brief for a local business - which sells award-winning handmade art, design and heritage collections - included exploring the market in China. Matthieu said: “We wanted to provide an efficient solution, easily implemented for a small company without incurring significant costs. As an international student and team leader there is nothing more rewarding than to see how much our project was appreciated by the company.”

“At NBS we’re delighted to have overseen another series of consultancy experience projects completed successfully,” said the School’s Experiential Learning Coordinator, Angela Scott. “During a time when businesses have faced tough choices and some have had to furlough staff, enough were still willing to give our amazing students this chance to showcase their skills, and to complete their degrees with a real-life business project. We are fortunate to have been given some fantastic challenges from a huge variety of organisations, from start-up entrepreneurs to well-known brands, not forgetting brilliant projects offered by the not for profit and public sectors. We invite any organisation with a business research challenge and that would like to hear some fresh ideas to get in touch with us.”

Contact Nottingham Business School via email to find out more.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Helen Breese, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email.

    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

    A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2020 National Student Survey, above the sector average of 83%.

Nottinghamshire businesses given an international perspective on growth thanks to student consultancy projects

Published on 27 October 2020
  • Category: Business; Press office; Nottingham Business School

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