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Staff from Rotork and the consultancy

University Of Redlands – California Live International Consultancy Project (LICP) at Rotork Leeds

Posted by: Professor Mike Brown

For the second year running the University of Redlands in Southern California has sent a group of their top Executive MBA final year students to complete their final consultancy programme here at Leeds Business School. The American blue-chip University has a series of satellite campus based around Southern California from San Diego to Palm Springs and from Hollywood to Temecula. Five delegates took part in the most recent Live International Consultancy Project here in Leeds. The University of Redlands global international programme brought these leading students together for three weekends before traveling to the UK to undertake this live international consultancy project.

The client was Rotork Leeds, a strategic business unit (SBU) of Rotork PLC located in Bath. Rotork PLC is the global market leader in valve automation and flow control and Rotork UK Leeds is the key Strategic Business Unit (SBU) of Rotork PLC. Tony Smith is Rotork Leeds Director of Operations. When you turn on a tap or switch on a light, or turn on a kettle or put fuel in your car, a flow control product is being used somewhere in the process of delivering that service. It designs, manufactures and assembles electric, pneumatic and hydraulic valve actuators and gearboxes to manage the flow of liquids, gases and powders in delivering a specific service. Both Rotork Gears and Rotork Skills divisions have different purchasing processes and both have a problem of high levels of slow or non-moving stocks. Stock control is paramount to the successful running of any company and slow moving stock reflects buying inefficiencies. The challenge facing the group is to address why where and how Rotork Leeds Gears and Skills divisions has slow and non-moving stock.

Indeed it was one specific challenge that the group had to overcome and that was exactly what the client wanted. Getting this wrong at the outset means that the impact of the feedback at the end of the week is severely reduced. This required the group to identify assumptions, evaluate statements in terms of evidence, detect false logic or reasoning, identify implicit values, define terms adequately and generalise appropriately.

Staff at RotorkOn Monday morning the group met with Tony and members of the Rotork team, to hammer out the precise terms of reference, no easy challenge, after all, aren’t non-moving goods really obsolete goods. In the evening The Dean and Assistant Dean of the Business School hosted dinner at Veritas Restaurant in Leeds. The remainder of the week found the group experiencing a roller-coaster emotional ride, from initial fears of the challenge to full steam ahead, as they worked towards their presentation to Rotork on Friday.

The presentation was attended by the MD of Rotork, Tony Smith and many of the Rotork managers who had contributed and been part of the group’s research during the week, Colin, Sarah, Nigel and Carol. The presentation was divided into 5 parts with questions invited at the end of each part.

The intensive week was capped with a visit to the Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors super league rugby game at Headingley. On Saturday, each of the delegates took the early London train and afternoon flight back to LA.

The University of Redlands is one of the most prestigious Universities in the western United States. The 105 year old University is located 60 miles east of Los Angeles on interstate 10. This is approximately half way between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, just before the Mohave Desert. The town of Redlands remains one of the few areas in Southern California where you can still see, and smell, California’s orange growing past.

These live Consultancy Projects do bring to light multiple valuable skills issues that individuals and groups face. Skills such as:

  1. Critical thinking and creativity
  2. Problem solving and decision making: establishing criteria
  3. Information and knowledge
  4. Numeracy and quantitative skills including the use of models of business situations
  5. Effective use of Communication and Information Technology (CIT)
  6. Two-way communication
  7. Personal effectiveness: self-awareness and self-management; time management
  8. Effective performance within a team environment and the ability to recognise and utilise individuals’ contributions in group processes
  9. Leadership and performance management
  10. Ethics and value management
  11. Ability to conduct research into business and management issues
  12. Learning through reflection on practice and experience

The Live Consultancy Project programme has been adopted by the University of Redlands, California as the perfect way to integrate all the delegates learning in what they call their own capstone programme. Above all, it is a real challenge and is part of the Leeds Business School ‘practice intelligence’ philosophy. The Business School continues to create innovative programmes that integrate the academic intelligence offered by Universities, with the business practice offered within business. Integrate these two concepts together and you have the notion of ‘practice intelligence’.

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