From the classroom to the boardroom: Scottish OBE and ex-Pepsi Director join forces in University initiative

John Park and Charles SkeneAs the Scottish economy struggles out of the recession and recent reports show rising unemployment figures, the emphasis on graduates' enterprise skills and experience has never been greater when competing in a tough labour market.

Enterprise skills are critical in every 21st century career and having the business know-how can boost employability and is often the key to survival when self-employed.

To this end, two big-business experts are joining forces to kick-start a new initiative at Robert Gordon University offering all students real-life experience and tuition in entrepreneurial skills.

J-Park-and-C-Skene.jpgScottish businessman, entrepreneur and avid innovator, Charles Skene OBE, an Honorary Professor of Aberdeen Business School (ABS) and long-term champion of Enterprise Education for primary, secondary and higher education students in Scotland who began and funded the University's Centre for Entrepreneurship in 2002, will now fund the new initiative to bring these sought-after skills, previously reserved for business students, to every scholar at the University.

Professor Skene said: "We desperately need to enhance the enterprise and competitive skills of our young people so that the UK will be able to compete with the emerging economic giants of India and China."

Taking the helm of the new initiative is ex-Research and Development Director for Pepsi Europe, Dr John Park, who also ran graduate internship programmes at Fortune 500 multi-national corporation, Procter & Gamble.

CSkene-aerial-view.jpgDr Park, a graduate of the University, who will design and implement the new programme, has led a trail of enterprise contributions in his previous roles and will bring an in-depth knowledge of the enterprise skills critical in a highly competitive work environment.

As well as a new series of lectures, workshops and master-classes, the programme will be supported by key activities including creating a unique business incubator to help students transform embryonic ideas into fully fledged business opportunities. Students will also now be allowed to develop and run their own businesses for a year as a fully-credited industrial placement.

Dr Park explains: "The type of classroom and real-life experiences this initiative will involve are highly practical and will seek to give students transferable skills. Part of the programme will bring successful University alumni back into the classroom to offer their expertise.

"We will develop a fully accredited enterprise module tailored to each of the faculties (Faculty of Health & Social Care, Faculty of Design & Technology and Aberdeen Business School) where case studies and business experience will be delivered with the most relevance to each students chosen discipline."

Whether graduates work in small or large firms, in the public or private sector or are self-employed, enterprise skills are essential in an economy where there is less money and more competition.

Professor Skene adds: "By giving every student the chance to gain first-hand experience and to understand the universal value of enterprise, we hope to produce graduates with a real competitive advantage. This is extremely important to the future of the economy, not only in Scotland, but on a global scale, as we help to equip the next generation of business leaders with an entrepreneurial skill-set."

Rita Marcella, Dean of Aberdeen Business School, comments: "Very few institutions are making such a bold and ambitious intervention and we hope that this will differentiate the University in the marketplace. Despite the daily challenges facing graduates, this is the catalyst of what we hope will be a golden era of entrepreneurship at the University. Students will be provided with a learning programme complementing their core expertise with entrepreneurial abilities and flair."

Note to Editors:

Professor Charles Skene

Charles Skene OBE has been committed to enterprise education for all Scots since 1986 when he was appointed one of five area chairman in Scotland charged by CBI Scotland to promote the RSA's Industry Year Initiative to young people about the importance of industry in creating wealth and employment.

During his chairmanship he became convinced that young people in Scotland also needed to be educated about the importance of enterprise and introduced The Skene Young Entrepreneurs' Award in 1986. This encouraged primary and secondary schools to operate enterprise companies and to compete with each other for local and national prizes. The national prize giving ceremonies were held in The Royal Society of Edinburgh and national figures such as HRH The Prince Philip, The Secretary of State for Scotland, government ministers and some of Scotland's most successful entrepreneurs presented the prizes and addressed the most outstanding primary and secondary enterprise companies.

The Awards ran until 2004 when they were taken over by the Scottish Government and incorporated into their new Scottish Education Awards at which Professor Skene presents the award each year.

Professor Skene is a serial entrepreneur and built the first Continuing Care Retirement Community at Inchmarlo, Banchory and introduced the concept of serviced apartments in Scotland.

He was appointed to two Government committees concerning education, achievement and enterprise:

  • The Secretary of States Task Force to Investigate under Achievement in Schools (1996)
  • The Scottish Executive's Review of Education for work and Enterprise Group (2001 - 2002)

Issued By:

Sarah Grieve
Communications Officer
Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262206