Leading Locally and Engaging Globally with Santander Universities

This academic year marked the first in Sheffield Hallam University’s three year partnership with Santander Universities, who have committed £10,000 to Venture Matrix each year to enable us to open up valuable international opportunities to our students.

Across the 17/18 academic year, we have used this funding to provide final year Sheffield Business School (SBS) students on the ‘Languages and Culture in the Global Workplace’ module with international work-related learning projects that would enhance their language skills and business experience. Three different organisations provided project briefs for the 15 students to tackle in four smaller groups, with each of the four groups partaking in international travel on behalf of their clients to Spain, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands respectively.

Spain

Three students undertook a project provided by SBS Alumni Manuel Moriana who, since obtaining his MSc in International Business Management, has become Export Manager of Especias Moriana, a spice manufacturer and exporter based in Cordoba, Spain. The students were tasked with conducting market research to further internationalise the firm into additional European markets. The Santander funding enabled the students to travel to Spain in January 2018 to meet their client in person, tour the factory and discuss their research project in greater depth.

“The opportunity to go abroad and work with a successful international enterprise was fantastic and has given us first hand experience and insight into the world of trade and export which is very valuable as students who are about to enter the world of work.” Emma D’Amery (final year Languages with International Business)

This project was designed to give the students a relevant work-related learning experience that would benefit them in their future careers. Rebecca Poppleton (final year Languages with International Business) reflected on the impact of the project:

“I learnt a lot about the spice industry, the strategy of exporting, and approaching new markets which is relevant experience for my career aspirations of working in international trade and export management.”

Austria

Four of our students conducted their project on behalf of a local Sheffield start-up business, Groak, who asked the students to conduct market research to aid their development of an international food and travel app. The Santander funding enabled the students to visit the Ferien Messe-Wien, food and travel exhibition held in Vienna from the 11th to 14th January 2018.

The students were able to use their language skills to network with businesses from all over the world, developing key contacts for their client and informing their market research report.

“As a student of German, the chance to go to Austria and speak to businesses was incredible. I have managed to bring theory from the classroom and apply it in a real-life scenario.” Jack Jenkins (final year Languages with International Business)

Finland and the Netherlands

The final two groups of students worked with Sheffield Hallam University’s own Erasmus team, who challenged the students to design a project that would encourage first year SBS students to sign up for the Erasmus programme. Eight final year students identified suitable universities in Amsterdam and Helsinki with whom to conduct an Erasmus Taster visit with small groups of first year students. The final year students designed an application process through which they selected eight first year students to take part in the project, formulating a plan of educational and cultural activities that would give them a taster of what studying and working abroad would be like.

“This experience funded by Santander has given me work experience for different countries, and has made me realise that Erasmus is rare, so the fact that I did it will stand out on my CV.” Chloe Sykes (final year Languages with Tourism)

 All of the first and final year students involved found the trips to be a valuable and unique experience. The positive impact of the Erasmus Taster was clear, particularly for first year student Arron Woodland (International Business) who confirmed that he had applied for Erasmus following the taster trip and commented that the experience “has allowed me to see how a different university operates and how their students learn, which I can incorporate into my own learning.”

SBS Senior Lecturer and Module Leader, Ania de Berg, described the overall impact that the Santander funding has had on the students:

“This module has been created a few years ago to enable our students to work on real-life projects, where they can draw on their linguistic skills and intercultural experience. This year, however, for the first time, they were able to put this to test… These visits not only proved to be very successful for the projects, but they also enabled the students to expand their knowledge of intercultural aspects of business communication in real-life situations. Without Santander’s initiative, this wouldn’t be possible.”