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Morgan Dunbar

Career Path: Business Growth Support Officer, North East LEP (North East Growth Hub)
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

I originally wanted to go into retail management and I took my first steps to doing this whilst studying at Northumbria getting promoted at a retail store that I worked at. However, upon finishing my degree I realised that I wanted to put my degree to some use and wanted a career with better hours, better pay and something with more purpose. Luckily, I came across the North East LEP specifically their Business Growth Department when looking for a job post-graduation.

One of the aspects of my course that I enjoyed was coaching. Coaching was a session ran by students each week to help with any coursework due, to learn new skills and to assist each other with one another's businesses (which we had to set up in order to be able to write about assignments and get a great hands-on experience you would not really get with any other course). The sessions I enjoyed the most were ones in which we helped each other's businesses as it allowed for problem solving and creativity which was fun. When looking at the job description for the Growth Hub it sounded like there would be similar aspects to coaching as you would have to assist business needs and help solve the problems they may have. Due to my hands on experience running businesses, coaching experience, customer service experience and related degree I got offered the job within a week!

What are you doing now?Morgan Dunbar

I work at the North East LEP in their Growth Hub department. The LEP works to make the North East a place where more businesses invest, grow and prosper, to deliver more and better jobs for everyone. The Hub is a crucial part of the LEP’s Business Growth strategy. Business growth and access to finance are key drivers for more and better jobs. They are necessities in addressing market failures to support stronger indigenous businesses to drive up GVA and employment. The North East LEP’s Business Growth Programme provides the framework for an investment of over £200m in access to finance and business support over six years. This investment will increase profitability, wages and employment across the local economy. My role in the LEP is as a Business Growth Support Officer, I triage businesses making outbound calls seeing if they need any assistance from us in the form of pointing them to where the support for businesses is or by booking them in with one of our connectors so they can have a more in depth discussion. I also manage inbound enquiries via email or on the phone and handle them the same way. It is very diverse, and no two days are the same.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

It was closer to home as I am a native of Durham and the course I studied was not really done by any other university in England other than Bristol I think and I did not fancy going down there, I was originally going to go to Salford Uni to study business there but when I discovered they did not have the same course as Northumbria offered then it was an easy decision to change my mind.

What was it like studying at Northumbria? (eg. were there a mix of lectures, seminars, team projects? Was the feedback constructive?

For the course I did because it was quite small we did not have traditional massive lecture halls so the majority of learning was done in a classroom. However, we did have large events across years which varied from a number of topics such as team building exercises to panel discussions and even pitching. It was certainly different but always hands on which I feel has prepared a lot of students more than they would have done form studying a normal business course.

How connected was your course with industry? (eg. did you have a placement, work on projects? were there interesting guest lectures?

Highly connected with industry, we did not do placement years but to be completely honest due to the nature of the course that would not really make sense as the main focus was to teach you how to work for yourself and run your own businesses, (working for a company was never disheartened though if that was what the student wanted and there have been a lot of transferable skills from what we have learned that can be applied to a job). An example that springs to mind about work on projects was a time when a Brewery Business came in to discuss their business and set us up into teams to work on creating and marketing a new beverage, the best team won a prize and had the chance of getting their drink actually made if it was really good.

What was the best thing about your course?

Probably how hands on it was, we were responsible for running our own marketing campaigns, running our own social media accounts, shipping products, emailing customers/clients among many other things and then had to write about our experiences for assignments, what went well, what could have been better and actually getting an understanding of how to run these things hands on rather than listening to someone talk about what not to do for lectures I think has been very valuable. Course mates and lecturers were great to, I myself personally do not think I had a problem with any of them whilst studying there.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

It has helped me secure a pretty well-paid job for my age and has given me so many transferable skills that I have been able to use in my career. I am much more equipped to help businesses who are struggling as I struggled myself so it's easier to relate to them especially any start-up's that ring in. I also have had the chance to attend networking events and have not been caught off guard by them as again they were something that you needed to attend for experience. I think with all the experiences I luckily had whilst studying on Entrepreneurial Business Management this made me a very idea candidate for business development jobs.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Networking, coaching, business development, and public speaking.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

Habita and Sports Central were a great way to unwind after a stressful day and they were great places to meet up with friends and have a laugh. Plus, Habita is incredibly cheap and the food is great.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

It is a well-equipped, diverse and fun university. I did not really capitalise on any student union run events whilst there just because I always found myself busy with my other job but always heard great things. There is loads to do so you should be able to keep busy for the length of your course. It is in a great location and the courses are unique, which you would struggle to find at other university's. Having studied there it is easy to see how it has been awarded as the Number 1 University in the UK.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Fun, unique and rewarding.

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