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Head of the Business School at the University of Suffolk keen to work with local businesses

PUBLISHED: 12:45 20 June 2017

Professor David Collins, Suffolk Business School, University of Suffolk

Professor David Collins, Suffolk Business School, University of Suffolk

Archant

The new head of the Suffolk Business School at the University of Suffolk, Professor David Collins describes himself as “an academic’s academic”.

University of Suffolk, Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT University of Suffolk, Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

And Mr Collins, who joined the university at the turn of year from the University of Hull where he was Professor of Management and Director of their MBA, certainly has an impressive CV.

In a career spanning more than 25 years he has also spent time at Napier University of Edinburgh, the University of Sunderland, the University of East Anglia and the University of Essex.

Career ready

“There seems to be this expectation that you have to have been a business person to teach business, but we are interacting with businesses all the time,” says Mr Collins, who also holds degrees from the University of Essex and the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.

“We are also not just preparing people for the world of business. Students may go off to work in council organisations, police forces, schools and hospitals in management, finance and leadership roles.”

He continued: “We are working to make students career ready. Our graduates tend to be older, so they are already employable, but at the University of Suffolk the expectation is that we prepare people for a lifelong career.”

These are exciting times for the newly independent University of Suffolk, which has recently introduced a number of initiatives aimed at the business community in the region.

Its Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre opened its doors last October with the aim of mentoring students hoping to develop their own businesses as micro-businesses and to grow them out, while a new triple internationally accredited MBA programme has been launched in partnership with the Maastricht School of Management. In addition, from the autumn the university will be offering Degree Apprenticeships in conjunction with local employers like BT, which offer young people the opportunity to study towards relevant degrees while working.

Challenge students

All this good stuff is aimed at making the University of Suffolk a destination of choice, not only for local people but for international student, says Collins.

“A lot of what is in place is remarkable and worth celebrating, and I want to extend what we do and challenge students,” he said.

“I refuse to accept the tyranny of low expectations. We will nurture and demand enterprising thinking - not just as entrepreneurs but as people who can make a difference in a large organisations.”

One of the areas Mr Collins is keen to build up at the University is its research arm – the hope being it can work with businesses to explore fresh ways of thinking and new business models

“Businesses continually need to change how they think and change their skills base. I would like organisations to call on us for research, so our students can be of help to them and also learn by studying them.”

Organisational storytelling

Research is something Mr Collins is renowned for. He was recently shortlisted for an industry award - The Urwick Memorial Cup – for his work on management consultancy and has produced notable accounts of organisational change, management fashion and financial regulation. He has also developed a successful one-day programme based 
upon his research into organisational storytelling.

He added: “Management is about getting people to do something under conditions that make co-operation unlikely, and story-telling is a way of explaining what must be done and why.”

“It could be a short story, such as issuing a memo or making a demand; it might be inspiring or challenging. It will be a narrative rooted in the truth.”

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