This new academic year we are delighted to welcome our new Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) and Dean of Westminster Business School, Professor Malcolm Kirkup. Joining us from the University of Edinburgh, Malcolm brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team and looks forward to beginning his journey with us. To find out more about Malcolm’s vision for the faculty, read on!
Hi! I am Malcolm Kirkup, the new Dean for Westminster Business School. I am thrilled to be here and really excited about the opportunities and prospects ahead for the School. I have enjoyed a range of successful roles in UK Business Schools over 30 years, beginning as a Teaching Associate and progressing to Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Programme Director and School Board Director. I have had the good fortune to work at a range of top Schools including Cranfield, Loughborough, Birmingham, Lancaster, Exeter and Edinburgh. What really drives me is a desire to have a real impact – by building innovative educational programmes and undertaking research and consultancy in association with industry and the professions in ways which are practical, applied and designed to make a difference.
What brought you to Westminster Business School?
What better place to take on the ultimate leadership role? Westminster Business School is an established, large, diverse and internationally recognised School, which is well-known for providing practical and ‘professional’ programmes. I believe I can help us build on this strength to further enhance the reputation and profile of the School. I see immense potential at Westminster for innovation in programme design, to work even more closely with industry and the professions, and to build research and academic enterprise in particular areas of real strength.
Looking at your previous ventures, sustainability appears to be a core part of your ethos. How do you define sustainability & why is this important to you?
Indeed, sustainability is a core value for me. We live on a planet that has finite resources and yet global growth in population and consumption is rapidly exhausting these resources. Whilst a growing population can be great for business, if we exhaust the raw materials available we will leave immense problems for future generations. In my view, business has a major role to play in leading the way to more responsible management of resources. Indeed, I see business leaders as ‘stewards’ of not just financial capital, but also social and natural capital. The connection with Business Schools is that I believe it is our job to educate our graduates – the business leaders of the future – in more responsible approaches to business. All business programmes need to incorporate these issues but I also feel that the area of sustainable business or sustainable innovation offers great opportunities for new (and interdisciplinary) programmes, research and academic enterprise.
What is your vision for the Business School?
Whilst Westminster Business School has major strengths, I feel the School can build a stronger and clearer market proposition in what has become an intensely competitive sector. We cannot appeal to everyone in every market sector – we need to focus on what we can do really well and invest in those strengths. This goes for both teaching and research. Of course, we absolutely must also deliver on teaching quality and student satisfaction – and that is an important priority for the School. I believe there is scope for significant innovation in programme design and enterprise in specific key areas, working more closely with industry and the professions, and also linking creatively with international partners. I am keen to work closely with faculty, the professional service teams, student groups, businesses, alumni and other stakeholders to develop the agenda for focus and growth.
What does the role of ‘Dean’ mean to you?
The role of Dean is the best job in a university. It is a privileged and rare opportunity to lead a team of accomplished teachers, researchers and other professionals in shaping the way young people are educated and influencing the way society can be impacted through the School’s research and enterprise. The role also has a responsibility to represent the School in discussions with the wider University – ensuring that the School is adequately resourced and supported to help achieve its objectives. It is becoming a more challenging role as Higher Education enters more volatile, uncertain and complex times, but a Dean has great minds and talent within the faculty and professional support teams to draw upon for ideas and inspiration.
What is it about the field of education that excites you?
The most exciting aspect of education at the present time relates to technology and its potential contribution. We are in the midst of an educational revolution as new technology changes what is possible in terms of teaching and learning. Online learning is the most obvious change with increasing numbers of students opting to complete courses and whole degrees whilst at home or on the move. I very recently designed and launched a MOOC at Edinburgh – a ‘Massive Open Online Course’ – funded by edX in the States. The course enrolled over 12,000 students even before the course went live! Tablets, smart phones and other technologies offer so many options to enhance or complement in-class teaching, flip-classrooms or new forms of educational programme altogether. I am also excited by new developments in areas such as big data, business analytics, digital marketing and design thinking – many of which are not yet embraced sufficiently in Business Schools, and yet these are the skills that our graduates increasingly need to meet the changing needs of employers. There are some great opportunities for educational innovation in these areas.
Do you have a message for the Business School community and for our new starters?
We, that is all members of Business Schools, have a challenging time ahead. There are numerous opportunities but also challenges. Consumers of education – students, their parents and their sponsors – have many more choices of university and programmes than they have ever had. Competition is intense. We are also being subject to more scrutiny in how well we perform in our teaching and research and, whether we like it or not, league tables will differentiate schools more and more. It is vital that we deliver on teaching and research to build our reputation, our distinctiveness and our performance. But it need not be daunting. It is also exciting. We have the chance to define the type of School we want to be and what we want to achieve, and we have the talent to make it happen.
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