Students take world stage on first day of GREAT Festival

Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have told world business leaders of the benefits of international study on the first day of the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong.

Pharmacy student Jennifer Iwobi and Sotiris Karoulla, studying Psychology, joined Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andy Collop on stage for one of the headline event on the first morning of the four-day event.

GREAT day 1

Both Sotiris and Jennifer are among 12 DMU GREAT Ambassadors, working placements at the festival all week.

Jennifer said: “Before DMU, I used to think of going abroad as sitting on a beach on holiday for two weeks.

“Now since I've had the opportunity to go abroad with #DMUglobal I realise there's so much more. You get so inspired you become more culturally aware and develop new skills.

Sotiris told the audience how his #DMUglobal experiences in New York, where he worked with an LGBT charity for the elderly and in Russia, where he also did volunteering, helped him in his Psychology degree.

He said: "I think by travelling and meeting people from different cultures and countries, you get to see first hand the struggles people have and it gives you a deeper understanding of studies.  You should be part of your community as well as part of the world."

GREAT day 1 B

The GREAT festival is the Government’s premier trade show, demonstrating the very best of UK innovation and creativity.

DMU has been chosen as the sole partner university for the event and will give numerous demonstrations of student work and research throughout the week.

This first day was themed around work and was attended by some of Asia’s leading names in finance and business.

Professor Collop said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase some of the wonderful things we are doing at our university to an international audience.

“One of the key reasons we’re here is to talk about how we make sure our students are ready for the workplace.”

During his talk, Professor Collop described #DMUglobal – the university’s award-winning international experience programme, which offers all students an overseas trip to enhance their studies – and #DMUworks, a similarly ambitious programme which aims to offer a varied, bespoke set of work experience opportunities to students, from year-long placements to 24 hour slots shadowing a CEO.

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Also in the audience at DMU’s showcase talk were several university alumni.

Martin Haines, managing director Asia of financial software provider First Derivatives Ltd, studied Computing at DMU when it was Leicester Polytechnic. He heard Professor Collop’s talk on #DMUworks and #DMUglobal, outlining how they help students and industry needs.

He said: “I can honestly say that it was the internship opportunity that made me choose DMU, so to see how much that has grown and developed with #DMUglobal is impressive. It’s relevant to business needs and the students have such amazing opportunities.”

Patrick Bruce studied Product Design at Leicester Poly between 1969 and 1972. Today, he’s director of Architecture company Oval Partnership which is based in Hong Kong and the UK, with offices in London and Liverpool.

Speaking about DMU’s hero showcase on preparing tomorrow’s global workforce, he said: “In my day, we didn’t have these kinds of opportunities, placements and so on. The opportunity to get international experience was unimaginable. The economic downturn in the 1970s meant that getting a job was difficult. But we all managed to get jobs and some of us got to do some amazing things.”

After studying, Patrick himself worked in teaching and then went into professional practice. Speaking about the students Sotiris Karoulla and Jennifer Iwobi he said: “It’s very encouraging to see their very self-evident levels of self-confidence. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor made a comment about developing students’ soft skills as part of their university education.

“That’s the most interesting and important comment I’ve ever heard coming out of a technical institution. If you are unable to communicate, put forward arguments, you’re not going to get anywhere in your career. So it was very encouraging to hear about the students’ experience and what they’re encouraged to do and to learn.”

Earlier in the day, Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, opened the festival with a speech in which he described the importance of holding the festival in Hong Kong, saying the “trading relationship with this city is a model for the UK’s future trading partnerships.”

 

Posted on Wednesday 21st March 2018

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