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Meet Your Academic - Elizabeth Blower

Discover more about our Business and Management MBus lead academic's career, research and what she likes about teaching on this distance learning programme.

Tell us a little bit more about your background, particularly in relation to this Business and Management MBus programme?

 During my career, I have worked in a variety of business management roles within the retail sector. It all started in the 80s when I trained as a store manager and went on to practise in big brands such as Mothercare, New Look and Trespass. During this period, I also studied part time to gain a BA (Hons) in Business Management, before going on to complete an MBA.  Over the years, I’ve held a number of different roles within retail. These have ranged from being a store manager – in which I was responsible for recruiting, training and appraising staff, collating area figures, achieving targets, managing budgets and much more – to area manager, when my responsibilities included driving sales and profitability and ensuring the performance for up to sixteen stores. During my various roles, I also helped to manage store openings and closures, ensuring that everything went smoothly.  

I joined Northumbria University as a programme leader for the distance learning Leadership and Management BA course in 2017. Since then, I’ve taught on a wide range of modules, both on distance learning programmes and on campus ones. During this time, I have also returned to studying. I have gained my PGCert in Coaching, and I have registered for my HEA Fellowship, linked to my PGCert in HE Advanced Practice, and started my Doctorate of Business Administration.

What is your particular area of academic expertise, and why are you passionate about it?

The subject areas I am most passionate about are 'Leadership', ‘Coaching’, 'Management in Practice', ‘Practice Knowledge’ and ‘Psychometric Assessments'. I believe that my years of experience as a practitioner has given me skills and knowledge that have, in turn, enabled me to be a good academic researcher. I’m a practice-led research academic and I support the team using my width and depth of experience as a manager in the workplace.  

Why should people choose to study Business Management?

Official statistics suggest Business Management is one of the most popular subjects among college and university students worldwide.  In fact, it consistently outperforms all other subject areas at this level. However, what is ‘business management’?  Roughly, defined, it refers to the activities and responsibilities associated with running an organisation, such as planning, implementation, controlling, monitoring, organising, optimising, delegating and so on.  Far from taking control of all such duties single-handedly, business managers play a key role at the heart of a wider business management team. No organisation can succeed without strong and consistent management.  Roles and responsibilities differ significantly from one manager to the next, though their overriding purpose remains the same – to build and maintain a successful and prosperous business. When choosing to study business management, candidates typically select courses that have the greatest potential to assist them with their career progression.  With this business management course , the benefits are uniquely wide reaching and the knowledge and skills gained can be applicable to a variety of prospective careers.

What can new students expect when they come to study this course?

I would say that there are six key things you can expect from studying this course. The first is a getting a good introduction to the realities of business. We offer a quality programme that provides candidates with a useful overview of the realities of business and industry insights that are invaluable in helping to put theory into context.  Success in business management is built upon a strong foundation of education and an understanding of how successful organisations are run.

The second is that people will learn to become a more effective team player. The most successful business managers are those who understand the value and importance of teamwork.  Contrary to popular belief, business management is not solely about providing direction as a ‘superior’ member of the workforce.  Instead, it is about doing whatever is necessary to get the job done and optimise the organisation’s performance.  If you cannot function as an effective team player, you cannot succeed in management.

Next, students will learn how to effectively manage people. Delegation and supervision represent two of the most important business management duties of all.  People management does not always come as naturally to some prospective candidates as they expect.  When you study business management, you learn how to gauge your expectations accordingly, build strong relationships with those you oversee, earn the respect of every member of the workforce and generally boost both morale and productivity.

You’ll also come to discover that work experience alone is not enough. In most business areas, work experience alone will only get you so far.  After this, employers expect and demand certain educational standards in order to give candidates their consideration.  Not only this, but there are countless skills and personal competencies that you can only develop through targeted business studies.  However ambitious your long-term career goals, you will find them far easier to achieve by studying business management. Relating to this, the course will also help you to gain a competitive edge. One of the more obvious advantages of studying business management is to gain an immediate and permanent edge over the competition.  Employers and decision makers are increasingly showing preference to those who have demonstrated their commitment and potential by taking quality study programmes. 

Finally, yet importantly, you’ll open up a variety of career choices after the course. Every organisation worldwide, public and private sector alike, depends on capable and committed managers; by studying a business management qualification, you immediately expand and enhance your career prospects for life. Irrespective of your current position and objectives, nothing boosts the value of a professional CV quite like a business management qualification.

What excites you most about teaching on the distance learning Business Management MBus?

I had my first taste of teaching as a part time lecturer, and found seeing students change from ‘Passive to Active’ learners incredibly rewarding. Since joining Northumbria as a full time member of staff this has not changed – I have enjoyed improving student achievement using outcomes that matter to their future success. What excites me most about teaching on the distance learning programme is interacting with interested, motivated students with a real desire to learn and succeed. It both expands their repertoire of knowledge, insights, and skills plus it broadens my perspective; I learn from their ideas and experience. As well as this, I like the development that takes place when preparing to teach students, organising complex and new materials into teachable sessions. Finally, the thing I like most about teaching is my students. Building a relationship with them so you make a difference to their learning experience is a vital part of the role. Interacting with them, learning from them, helping them to understand and enabling them to see the connection between what they are learning and their lives – these are all fantastic parts of the job.

 

Click here to find out more about our Integrated Masters in Business and Management.


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