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Alliance MBS

Recent events and discussions shaping the future of business and society.

Round up of events

A summary of events throughout 2024 so far.

A host of events have been held across AMBS and The University of Manchester in recent months.

Grigor McLelland lecture

This year's annual Grigor McLelland lecture at AMBS held in memory of the first Director of Manchester Business School was given by Ismail Amla, Senior Vice-President and Global Consulting Leader at Kyndryl, which designs and builds large-scale information systems.

Ismail discussed how shifts in technology, demographic change, the advent of hybrid working and changing generational expectations has created challenges around inclusion, while widening inequality and societal needs are not being met by traditional institutions.

As he said: "We live in an incredible time where only our imagination holds back what we can do with technology. What we are seeing is changing the world we live in, the world we work in, and how we relate to one another, charged by all these disruptive technologies. This is all coming together to create this blending of the digital, physical and biological world. The question now is what do we need to be doing in parallel with what is going on in this world?

"The rate of change is pretty incredible. For instance if you look at how long it took a piece of technology to be adopted by 100 million users, the telephone took 75 years, WhatsApp three and a half years, ChatGPT five weeks, Threads five days. Are we even absorbing what is going on?"

Watch the full Grigor McLelland lecture:

Tom Beahon's lecture at AMBS

Tom Beahon, co-founder and co-CEO of sportswear manufacturer Castore gave a Vital Topics lecture at AMBS, hosted by alumnus and AMBS advisory board member Ian King from Sky News.

Recounting his business journey and how he first set up the company with his brother Phil, Tom said there were no short cuts to business success. But he stressed that anyone can start a business. "You definitely need some good luck along the way, and you definitely need to meet the right people who will help you as no-one can do it on their own. We have worked incredibly hard, we've refused to give up, we've tried our best to have a bit of fun every day, and we've dreamed really, really big."

He added that there was no singular route to success. "There isn't a particular path you have to follow to be successful in life. I sometimes think society as a whole has us believe that. You have to work it out as you go along. I didn’t come from any entrepreneurial background at all, and my brother and I were instilled with traditional values. Namely, work hard, try your best to be a good person, treat others with respect, and believe you can achieve something."

Tom explained how his brother's background was in cricket, and his was in football, and they both stopped playing sport at a similar time. "I had dreamt of being a professional footballer and to me my world ended when that didn't happen. Looking back it was an amazing lesson because you brush yourself down and get on with it."

He added that he was incredibly proud of the business they had now created in the north, with the company now employing 500 people and based in Manchester.

National Conference on Societal Resilience

In the spring the National Consortium for Societal Resilience (NCSR+), based at AMBS, ran its second national conference at Whitworth Hall at the University of Manchester.

The conference welcomed more than 170 delegates from local resilience partnerships and voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations, as well as senior government representatives and partners from policy and practice. International delegations from the Municipal Association of Bangladesh, Nigerian Peace Corps, and the Netherlands also attended.

Across two days of networking and discussion, the conference explored what it means to be a leader of societal resilience, how to build societal resilience together as a strategic endeavour, how to better collaborate and partner with others, future risks, and partnership working in a changing context.

One session looked at the importance of local leadership in terms of enhancing societal resilience, and what it takes to lead on this agenda and galvanise individual and collective action.

One challenge identified was around divergence in language and culture among partners, especially from different sectors, and between local resilience partnerships and local communities, and how this can inhibit the building of collaborative relationships.

Another was the persistence of short-termism rather than more strategic thinking towards longer term goals that seek to integrate, coordinate, and prioritise the available resources as a collaborative endeavour. Limitations caused by a lack of resources, especially financial, were also raised with many communities affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Another workshop was led by the VCS Emergencies Partnership and addressed how VCSE organisations and local resilience partnerships can form meaningful partnerships that work for all involved to enhance societal resilience. In particular, it looked at what makes an ideal network of partnerships and partners, such as having clarity over purpose and value to partners so that trust and resourcing can be sustained over the longer-term.

Another session looked at how societal resilience is enhanced by hyper-local systems to help people and places to adapt and advance in a changing environment, and what the future might look like in terms of risks and societal resilience. The importance of encouraging communities to think about want they want the future to look like, and their vision for it, was also stressed.

Duncan Shaw, Professor of Operational Research and Critical Systems at AMBS and co-founder of the NCSR+, said much more can now be done to maintain momentum and galvanise further collaboration and action to ensure that all can play a meaningful part in building the resilience of our society.

"The NCSR+ will continue to play its part in translating the national ambition on societal resilience into action by local resilience partnerships that will help people and places to adapt and advance in a changing environment."

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