From spearheading volunteering initiatives to playing a crucial role on the NHS front line, LBS students are demonstrating the power of the School community in times of crisis...
1. Helping small businesses across London and the South-East
For MBA student Rebecca Hill, the coronavirus pandemic has inspired a new project: the LBS Small Business Initiative. This volunteer-led enterprise is designed to help SMEs in London and the South East adapt to changing market conditions.
“The initiative involves matching up student volunteers with SMEs on a wide variety of short-term projects,” Rebecca explains. “We’ve seen an overwhelming show of hands from the LBS community to support the initiative with students, staff and faculty signing up to volunteer.”
So far, the Small Business Initiative is working with 10 SMEs, including a children’s clothing boutique, a Pilates studio and a South London brewery, and Rebecca plans to scale up in the coming weeks. “The aim is to help SMEs beyond London and the UK very soon.”
2. Supporting local communities through the LBS COVID-19 Volunteering Group
In the wake of the pandemic, MBA students Stacy Sawin and Vinay Muttineni identified an urgent need to help out in their local communities in London – primarily in Marylebone, Paddington and St John’s Wood.
Stacy and Vinay created the LBS COVID-19 Volunteer Group, an initiative that mobilises LBS students to help those most affected in the local community. The Group focuses on six key areas: community outreach, support for foodbanks and homeless shelters, projects to support small businesses, fundraising, and the delivery of baked goods to NHS hospitals.
“The initiatives have seen significant uptake among enthusiastic LBS students – more than 150 students have signed up already,” says MBA student Marlitt Urnauer, who leads the social media for the project. “Over the past days, the Group has achieved a number of things: David Jones has been in contact with UK prisons and has worked with Executive MBA student Dr Kumar at HM Prison Thameside to donate more than 1,000 kg of fresh food to the FareShare fresh food programme.”
In the past two weeks, 20 volunteers have baked and delivered homemade treats to St Mary’s Hospital and UCL Hospital to show their appreciation for NHS staff. These delicious deliveries will continue on a weekly basis.
3. Taking the annual China Business Forum online – for the first time in its nine-year history
MBA students Gaby Wu and Yan Hou encountered a huge and unprecedented challenge when organising this year’s China Business Forum (CBF). The London-based event, which normally attracts world-renowned speakers and more than 300 attendees, is due to take place in May – but Gaby and Yan realised early on that a physical event wouldn’t be possible.
“The situation forced the China Club to respond in an agile way,” explains Gaby.
“The decision to pivot to an online event wasn’t an easy one,” says Yan. “It requires the transition of the entire event format – we’ve had to re-design our event agenda, re-confirm speakers and employ new marketing tactics. But we’ve learnt a huge amount in the process. The theme for this year’s CBF is ‘From Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones’ and this chimes with how we’ve responded to the crisis. In our opinion, every difficulty is really just another opportunity to grow.”
4. Hosting online student quizzes (and raising money for charity in the process)
For President of the Debate & Public Speaking Club David Jones, the shift to running club events online was a learning experience in itself. Since March, the MBA student has hosted online comedy coaching, public speaking training and formal debate practice – and is already planning to run an international comedy showcase with celebrity guests like Eddie Izzard.
Almost 100 students signed up to his comedy lessons, and to keep his fellow students engaged David makes his events as interactive as possible, with quizzes, polls and Q&As in the first 10 minutes.
“In our first pub quiz, in March, the challenge that people most enjoyed was around how to make a giraffe from items in their house. Sometimes the silliest things have the biggest impact – that quiz, which attracted more than 200 attendees, helped us raise more than £2,000 for the UK Trussell Trust.”
5. Shining a light on global health inequalities
For MBA student Dr Faheem Ahmed – a physician, entrepreneur and investor – the pandemic has brought his life’s work on health inequity to the fore. In a recent op-ed published in The Lancet, he and three others explored why COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted lower socio-economic groups.
“Poor populations lacking access to health services in normal circumstances are left most vulnerable during times of crisis,” they write. “As government bailout programmes continue to prioritise industry, scarce resources and funding allocation decisions must aim to reduce inequities rather than exacerbate them.”
As well as advising NHS and WHO policymakers, Faheem has balanced his MBA studies with his clinical responsibilities as a doctor in the Emergency Department.
“With graduation on the horizon and a dream VC role lined up in the US, I envisaged an entirely different scenario to the one I am in now,” he says. “Like for many of my colleagues, this pandemic has turned my plans on its head – but I am grateful to play a small part in one of the biggest challenges of our time."
6. Playing a key role on the NHS front line
“It's safe to say that 2020 has not turned out quite as expected for our Global Masters in Management (GMiM) cohort,” says GMiM student Julia Cockcroft. While awaiting the start of her graduate scheme in August, she heard from family members working for the NHS that hospitals and care homes were becoming short-staffed. With no experience in healthcare herself, Julia was surprised to learn that the NHS roles needing to be filled most urgently were healthcare assistants (HCA) roles – so she quickly put forward her application.
“I’ve now been working as an HCA with the NHS Essex Partnership University Hospitals Trust (EPUT) and a local care home for just over a week. Responsibilities include helping to feed and care for patients and supporting senior staff in their duties.
“Right now, hospitals and care homes have had to ban visitors, and we’ve been doing all we can to support patients through a potentially very confusing and lonely time. I’m learning so much every day – I doubt I’ll ever work in a role that requires me to develop my skills in building trust, communication and teamwork quite as rapidly as this one. It’s challenging but totally rewarding.”