Dr Thomas Wainwright, School of Management, recently presented at our International Student Recruitment's Representatives’ Conference, on Wednesday 31 January.
We caught up with him to understand more about what his presentation covered and what his role within the School of Management entails.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role within the School of Management? How long have you worked here?
This is my third year at Royal Holloway. I became Director of Teaching and Learning 18 months ago, shortly after joining. Along with teaching and research, my role is to look at ways in which we can improve teaching and learning in the School of Management (SoM). SoM has students from 75 countries and accounts for 20% of the Royal Holloway’s students, so it’s a very large and complex School, which requires some fresh thinking on what we can do to improve our students’ time with us. Last year the number of students awarded a first doubled, so some of our changes are starting to pay off.
2. You presented at our International Student Recruitment's Representatives’ Conference last week on the digital transformation of the retail sector. Could you tell us a bit more about your presentation?
The presentation looked at how traditional high street businesses are experiencing digital disruption and how they are having to change. Think about Zoopla and Deliveroo. New digital competitors are emerging, but at the same time, new job professions are being created and others are disappearing, so it was interesting to discuss the implications on how the digital economy will affect student job markets. It highlighted the need for students to focus on employability, adaptability, and to develop both data analysis and creative skills. The jobs that some of our students will do in the future, haven’t even been developed yet…
3. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway and within the School of Management?
Compared to other places I’ve worked and studied it has a genuine, friendly community feel. Despite being a ‘management school’, it’s a very interdisciplinary place to work which keeps it interesting and contemporary.
4. What are your main research interests?
These are pretty eclectic (I trained as a geographer), but broadly speaking – strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. I’ve completed projects on the global financial crisis, banking innovation, wealth management, tax avoidance, digital start-ups and older entrepreneurs to name a few.
5. What does a typical working day look like for you?
There’s no such thing as a typical working day! They all involve lots of coffee.
6. We are almost half way through term two, what would you ideally like to achieve by the end of this academic year?
I’ve crossed off plenty of things on my ‘to do’ list already, but there are a couple of journal papers I need to submit and a new research project to start. I also need to book an extra holiday.
7. Who inspires you inside of the organisation? Who inspires you outside of the organisation?
I find the students really inspiring – it should be the other way around. We have some fantastic students. They never fail to surprise me, with stories of places they have been or charitable endeavours, businesses they have set up already, or their future plans and ambitions. There are some really intelligent, driven and enthusiastic students who will go very far.
In contrast, looking for inspirational role models in the worlds of politics, business and celebrity is quite a difficult job these days. I think the most inspirational people are entrepreneurs who seek to disrupt markets and build businesses from scratch. That takes real determination, critical thinking and hard work.
8. You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself…
My job at Royal Holloway is very diverse and constantly changing. I often find myself outside of my comfort zone, which is great as it helps me to meet new people and learn new things, which I perhaps wouldn’t have if just left to my own devices. I’ve discovered that if I try new things, they don’t necessarily end in disaster –sometimes quite the opposite…