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Connecting students with real business world issues

Durham University Business School is highly connected to the business world and our high-calibre students are keen to put their top business knowledge into practice, so Strategic Business Projects provide an excellent way for them to do so. The School’s Full-time MBA programme culminates in a Strategic Business Project and Masters students also have the option to undertake a project instead of a dissertation.

A Strategic Business Project is a three-way collaborative partnership between the student, the School and an organisation. Projects tackle important business issues, identify areas for strategic development, and conclude with a comprehensive strategic report with recommendations for the business. This provides students with an excellent learning opportunity and practical experience whilst allowing businesses to address an issue specific to their organisation.

An example of a project is the work done by Andrew Price, Strategic Partnerships Section Manager of Nissan Europe. Andrew is an alumnus from the Full-time MBA programme and chose to undertake a Strategic Business Project with Jeppesen GmbH, part of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. His brief was to explore the digital maturation of the airline industry to identify the benefits and barriers associated with digital transformation.

With access to high-level executives and individuals across Boeing Digital Aviation, Andrew gained a unique understanding of his subject and the airline industry as a whole. This gave Andrew the opportunity to apply his core MBA knowledge and develop commercially valuable business insights for the organisation.

Andrew now works for Nissan Europe and has been able to demonstrate his expertise regarding the future of transportation when dealing with government officials. He said:

"Organisations can’t escape the necessity of digital transformation, which is why my project was particularly relevant and beneficial. The entrepreneurial focus of the Durham MBA has left me itching to develop a product or service which can benefit all.” 

Dr Jens Schiefele, Director, Boeing Global Services, DA&A Research & Rapid Development, said:

"Andrew's project focused on one of the key challenges all airlines are facing. Andrew produced great work and demonstrated real dedication to our company’s growth and his own personal career advancement."

To ensure that all parties involved benefit from the experience, there is a process in place to help the project run smoothly.

Host companies are asked to:

  • Define the specification of the project (the scope).
  • Agree with the student, the scope, requirements, outputs etc.
  • Nominate a main contact responsible for sponsoring the project.
  • Ensure the student has access to relevant company information and key stakeholders.
  • Provide reasonable out of pocket expenses (to be agreed with the student at the outset of the project). 

Business projects cover various topics, including sustainability, entering international markets, e-commerce in Asia, tech/digitalisation, demographics affecting the workplace, Generation X, Y, Z and new and emerging trends, and more.

It is understood that projects may touch on confidential information, so the School works with complete integrity, discretion and professionalism, underpinned by a non-disclosure agreement provided by the University.

Durham University Business School is keen to connect students with organisations that wish to participate in the Strategic Business Project programme. The closing date for projects commencing summer 2018 is 31 January 2018. For further information, or to submit an idea for a business project, please click here or contact Tracey Wallis Million, Corporate Relations Manager at the School, at business.extrelations.durham.ac.uk.