Written by Tiffany Ferreira Silva Dutra
BA (Hons) Business Studies
As a first-year Business Studies student and now a second-year International Business student, I have encountered numerous hurdles, some personal and some teamwork conflicts. My course had us experience a simulation of running a business meeting and marketing for a non-profit company and, to my surprise, both times I was the leader of the project. This proposed some personal challenges but also elicited a lot of personal growth. Despite the challenge, both of these projects turned out to be my favourites, and they were life-changing experiences that I will take with me throughout my future.
Eye-opener in Chinese Business Culture
In my first semester, we had to complete the eye-opening module “Developing Management Competencies”. This module required us to do a presentation in a role-playing fashion to persuade the Dorset Council to do business in a specific country, if Brexit were to happen. Initially, I was excited as this was my first experience of a business meeting, and we were required to dress smart and act professionally. However, I am not used to working in a team or as a team leader, so that brought with it some challenges. We, as a team, decided to do a substantial amount of research on the culture of China (our designated country) and how they conduct their meetings in a very structured respectful manner. We weren’t aware of this because in the UK or in the US there isn’t as much of a gap in authority as there is in China. We also had to consider how to make ourselves stand out from our peers, and we decided to research Chinese phrases to really immerse ourselves. If, in reality, we were to represent China, they would be more likely to respect us if we do their gestures, sayings, and pronounce their names correctly. As a team leader, I had to schedule meetings, book a location within BU facilities, assign research topics and audit everyone’s attendance and participation. The challenge I faced as the only female and team leader with a group of men was a bit intimidating at first, but I was able to gain their respect and prove myself as the most reliable and dependable of the bunch!
Marketing for a Non-profit
In my second year, we had to complete a Marketing module and surprisingly we were asked to market a real-life non-profit organisation called Anthony Nolan. They hired business students to market them, and spread awareness of their charity, with the requirements that it had to lead to a live event and use various marketing strategies such as propaganda, social media, etc. within a £5,000 budget. Conducting research for Anthony Nolan was life-changing. Their organisation is all about saving lives and inspiring their target group of University-age males within the UK to donate stem cells for people suffering from blood cancer, and increase their registry of possible donors. Once again, I was nominated as the team leader to audit and lead a group of men to conduct the research. Since they were the target group we were attempting to market to, it was easy for them to identify what appeals to 18-24 year-old males, as research found that they don’t tend to respond to the same things as females do, or older generations.
We had to research what social media they were likely to use, what propaganda they tend to respond to, and what live event they were most likely to participate in. This experience was revelatory and I had far fewer hurdles than the first semester. Primarily this task was about the men on my team, and all I had to do in terms of leading was organise their thoughts and maintain frequent contact to ensure work was being done.
My favourite project included both semesters of conducting a cultural business meeting inspired by China, and doing marketing for a real-life non-profit organisation, Anthony Nolan. Within my first year, I was able to experience the team leader role and manage working in a group as opposed to on my own. And both times, I was the only female to manage and oversee 5 or 6 men to achieve our end goal. At the beginning of my second year, I was told that this was just the start, and there were many more projects coming my way!