Jonathan Turner, the Chief Executive and a Northumbria University Alumnus got in touch with the University to see how his organisation might get involved. Through discussions with the Entrepreneurial Business Management Programme Leader, Lucy Hatt – a Generator Session was arranged. 42 students and 2 staff travelled to Weatherby on Wednesday 17th March 2016 as guests of The Bayford Group.
Bayford & Co Ltd (Bayford) was founded in 1919. A diverse history has seen it involved in coal, electronics, environmental services, property investment and the UK’s downstream fuel industry. Bayford is a specialist in sales, marketing and transactional operations. It prides itself on being entrepreneurial, agile and being able to ‘punch above its weight’ in the industries it operates. The culture of its organisations is also very important. Its businesses are all ‘Investors In People’ accredited and have been listed in the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work for on a number of occasions. Today Bayford, via its divisional companies, supplies fuel to more than 25,000 customers in the UK, via fuel cards.
Students on the radically innovative EBM programme have the opportunity to participate in two Generator Sessions a year in teams as an entire programme group. It is a chance to show off what they are good at, what they have learnt and to apply it to a real business situation. It is a combination of brainstorming, problem solving and presentation.
The stunning surroundings of Bowcliffe Hall really added to the experience of the students. A previous owner of the Hall had been Robert Blackburn, the aviation pioneer, who had been the inspiration behind the Blackburn Wing where the event took place. The bar is one half of a jet engine, an aircraft wing tip is a conference table, the door handles are custom-built copies of propeller nose cones. Even the taps and lighting in the loos echo many aspects of early aircraft design and technology.
The students were set a business challenge by Jonathan Turner (Chief Executive), Liz Slater (Managing Director), Mark Kilvington (Director – BeFuelcards) and Adam Walsh (Director – The Right Fuelcard Company). The challenge centred around the future of the vehicle re-fuelling industry in the short, medium and long term, and asked them then to make recommendations on where the future of Bayford could be, in relation to those times frames.
Liam Watson (EBM Student) commented, “The best thing about the day was the opportunity to solve a real life business problem, and to work in a professional business environment. The people were inspirational and represented exactly what I think entrepreneurs should be like. It’s eye opening what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.”
Other participants on the day noted how constructive the feedback that they received for their proposals had been. “They really appreciated how hard we worked and the effort we’d put in, they really seemed to value our ideas.” said Tom Loveday (EBM Student).
5 teams competed on the day, and the winning team, NE Unity, was awarded a £200 donation to a charity of their choice (they’ve chosen the Chronicle Sunshine Fund) and a chance to shadow Adam Walsh and his team in his Leeds offices for a day.
Jonathan Turner commented, “The teampreneurs are a real credit to the Newcastle Business School and we were really impressed with all of them. We enjoyed the day and have some very useful output from the sessions that we will be working on. This project will come to fruition in some way over the next few years and we look forward to sharing that with you.”