IEEC2021 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Professor Monder Ram OBE

Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), Aston University

Professor Monder Ram OBE is the Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). He has extensive experience of working in, researching and acting as a consultant to small and ethnic minority businesses. He is a leading authority on small business and ethnic minority entrepreneurship research and has published widely on the subject. He regularly speaks at international conferences on the importance and value of ethnic minority businesses and has advised Government on this, now sitting on the recently established APPG for BAME Business Owners. Monder was responsible for initiating the annual Ethnic Minority Business Conference in 1998, which has developed into the most important event in the calendar for disseminating policy and research on ethnic minority firms. Monder also holds the positions of Visiting Fellow at the Industrial Relations Research Unit at Warwick University, and Visiting Professor at the University of Turku in Finland. He was named as one of the country’s most influential Asians by the Institute of Asian Professionals and was awarded an OBE in the 2004 New Year Honours List for his services to black and ethnic minority businesses.

Session summary

Making Diversity and Enterprise Everyone’s Business: The CREME Approach to Advancing Equality and Entrepreneurship

The seismic effects of COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and Brexit have exposed endemic racial inequalities in the UK. Policy responses are mixed but encouraging entrepreneurship amongst ethnic minority communities is likely to form part of the solution. For nearly 20 years, the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) has operated at the intersection of debates on inequality and enterprise, and worked with practitioners to pursue its mission of ‘making diversity and enterprise everyone’s’ business.

CREME’s modus operandi is to promote change with practitioners whilst pursuing theoretically informed research. This presentation offers insights from the many shades of engagement that characterise CREME’s work—from stakeholder consultation on conventional research projects to the creation of new ventures to support for ethnic minority businesses.

Gia Vitkute

Serial traveller, entrepreneur and founder of Life in Sync Coaching, alumna of Lancaster University

Gia Vitkute is a serial traveler, entrepreneur and founder of Life in Sync Coaching. She travels around the world while running an online business. Gia is a certified life coach helping her clients achieve their dream life through clarity practices, building success habits and focused action plans. She believes that happiness comes from the balance between work and personal life. Gia has been traveling solo for over ten years, been to over forty countries and currently lives in Portugal. In the past, she worked for multinational companies such as Johnson & Johnson and C.H. Robinson and her past career and education experiences shaped the person she is today. Her biggest passion is to inspire people to go after their dreams, help them do the ‘impossible’ and start entrepreneurial ventures. She loves leading workshops and participating in events like ‘Pecha Kucha’. Gia could be called ‘a digital nomad’ but she prefers the term ‘a global citizen’ – borders are an illusion, not reality.

Session summary

How entrepreneurial initiatives at university prepared me to become a global entrepreneur

The popularity of running an online business and going global has grown significant this past decade. We have the resources, we have the opportunities, we have the ideas. But SOMETHING usually stops us. And that’s usually the fear of being different and following a not-so-established pathway to being an entrepreneur. Considering what has happened in the last 2 years and how the world has changed, it is clear that we have an unprecedented opportunity to bridge the gap between traditional education, traditional career path and a new revised model of working. What I learned at university helped shape my character and gave me the personal skills to run a global business way before 2020. What is stopping you or your students going global? 

Professor Ulla Hytti

Head of Entrepreneurship at the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, University of Turku

Ulla Hytti is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Turku in Finland. Her research is focused on entrepreneurship at the individual level including entrepreneurial identities and entrepreneurship education. Currently, she is the PI in ‘Academic Entrepreneurship as a Social Process” and WP Leader in Horizon 2020 project ‘Developing Inclusive and Sustainable Creative Economies’. Ulla was given the European Entrepreneurship Education Award in 2019 for contributions to improvement of entrepreneurship education in academia in Europe. She is the President-Elect for the European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in 2019-2021. Ulla is the Associate Editor for the Journal of Small Business Management, and in the editorial boards for the ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research’ and the ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’. She is also currently guest editor for two special issues in the field of entrepreneurship education.

Session summary

Inclusive entrepreneurship education

Entrepreneurship education is increasingly offered across campus in different disciplines and faculties. Thus, many universities and higher education institutions are trying to make entrepreneurship education accessible to all their students. However, increasing the offer alone is not sufficient to make entrepreneurship education inclusive. Due to the stereotypes that continue to be for example gendered or connected to certain kinds of entrepreneurs (high-growth technology startups), it is not certain that all students have real access in entrepreneurship education. The stereotypical image of an entrepreneur may exclude students due to their gender, race, ethnicity, class, family situation or disability or due to their field of study. The entrepreneurship education practices such as the business idea pitching competitions that have become the standard in many entrepreneurship education programs and informal entrepreneurship activities may alienate rather than create enthusiasm across all students. This calls for reflecting our entrepreneurship education practices.

Paula Whitehouse

Associate Dean for Enterprise in the College of Business and Social Sciences at Aston University, and Director of the Aston Centre for Growth.

Paula Whitehouse is  Paula leads on the development of growth programmes and other business support initiatives at the Centre which have provided targeted support to over 1,500 SMEs, and takes a strategic lead on Aston’s start-up support for students and graduates.  Paula was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal by Aston University in 2021.

Paula is Curriculum Director with the Chartered Association of Business Schools for the UK Government’s new Help to Grow: Management programme which will provide leadership and management education to 30,000 business leaders over 3 years, and was Curriculum Director for the Small Business Leadership Programme which helped 2,800 business leaders build resilience and recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As Section Lead for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme Paula has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs through its intensive leadership and management education since 2011.  In 2018 Paula gave evidence on behalf of the Small Business Charter to the House of Commons BEIS Committee Small Business and Productivity Inquiry.  Paula is a board member and trustee of Ex Cathedra, a leading UK choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham, a Fellow of the RSA, and is a national evaluator for the Knowledge Exchange Concordat.

Dr Sophie-Louise Hyde

Student Enterprise Coordinator, Loughborough University

Sophie is currently responsible for the operational lead and coordination of Student Enterprise support at Loughborough University through their award-winning Enterprise Network and ecosystem (LEN), which forms part of the Careers Network. Working in a unique partnership with colleagues across Academic Schools, Loughborough’s Students’ Union and the Research and Enterprise Office, this overall system of support led to Loughborough University being awarded THE Outstanding Entrepreneurial University of the Year in 2019. Sophie has a vested interest in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (specific to the Creative Industries) after 7 years running her own publishing and writing business, Wordsmith HQ (2013-20). She has a PhD in English (Creative Practice – Verbatim Poetry) for which she was awarded a Glendonbrook Fellowship for Innovation and Enterprise (2013-16) for her thesis titled: ‘“We should be united”: Deploying verbatim methods in poetry to (re)present expressions of identity and ideas of imagined community in the 2011 Birmingham riots.’

Session Summary (Paula Whitehouse and Dr Sophie-Louise Hyde)

How to achieve THE Outstanding Entrepreneurial University

Paula Whitehouse and Dr Sophie-Louise Hyde will draw on the experiences of Aston University and Loughborough University, recent recipients of the Times Higher Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurial University, to provide useful hints and tips to other universities considering putting forward a nomination.

Dr Kelly Smith

Dr Kelly Smith, Senior Lecturer (Teaching Focused) in Entrepreneurship, University of Birmingham

Dr Kelly Smith was co-opted to the board of Enterprise Educators UK in 2008 to advise on learning and web technologies. In 2009 she was elected Junior Vice-Chair, progressing to senior Vice-Chair before becoming Chair in 2011. Kelly oversaw a major campaign to build membership numbers which rose by over 10% during her period as Chair. She was also influential in establishing EEUK’s position as one of the UK government’s organisations of choice when advice or consultation was required related to enterprise matters. As a member of the QAA enterprise education expert group she made a major contribution to the development of the QAA guidelines on enterprise and entrepreneurship education (2012 and 2018). Dr Smith’s term on the board ended in 2013. She is currently a Senior Lecturer (Teaching Focused) in Entrepreneurship at the University of Birmingham. She was a founding co-Chair of the joint EEUK and Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Community of Interest for Research in Enterprise Education.

Dr Emily Beaumont

Dr Emily Beaumont, Academic Subject Lead for Strategy, Enterprise, Leadership and Management, University of Gloucestershire

Emily is Academic Subject Lead for Strategy, Enterprise, Leadership and Management at the University of Gloucestershire. Emily has a passion for enterprise and entrepreneurship education and has devoted her time in Higher Education to developing teaching and research in this discipline.  This has led to her being awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.  She also recently established and co-chairs the Research in Enterprise Education Special Interest Group, the first official partnership between the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and EEUK

Dr Breda O’Dwyer

Dr Breda O’Dwyer,  Senior Lecturer and Head of CEED (Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development), Munster Technological University

Dr Breda O Dwyer is Senior Lecturer and Head of CEED (Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development) at Munster Technological University, leading regions through Innovation, Design and Transformation. She was Project Lead on Research & Engagement in the successful merger of the Institute of Technology Tralee and Cork Institute of Technology, becoming Munster Technological University.  She is VP of Education and Practitioner Learning of the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and co-chair of REntED Sig Group.  Her initiatives target founders, researchers, policy makers, undergraduate students, and teams within global corporates, aiming to stimulate their entrepreneurial mind-sets towards innovative commercial and non-commercial oriented solutions.  She works across and between disciplines promoting and developing entrepreneurial learning and practice.  She has been PI in a number of EU projects such as BoostiEER, Fan-Best, TRADEIT, Agriforvalor and Biorefinery Glas. Breda has co-designed and co-implemented a number of design led entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial programmes including the European winning Design4SMEs commercialization programme for post graduates. Breda has led a number of key initiatives in Kerry including the region being awarded the title of a European Entrepreneurship Region (EER), the Cantillon Conference, the European model of best practice – the Kerry Month of Enterprise.  She is a member of national and international expert panels tasked with promoting entrepreneurial excellence.

Session Summary (Dr Emily Beaumont, Dr Kelly Smith & Dr Breda O Dwyer)

Research into Enterprise Education and Practice

This session introduces the Research in Enterprise Education (REntEd) Special Interest Group (SIG), a joint endeavour between EEUK and the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) to connect the membership of both organisations and their communities to pursue excellence in Research in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education.  Co-chairs, Dr Emily Beaumont and Dr Breda O’Dwyer, and SIG member Dr Kelly Smith will also outline a project prompted by the SIG which attempts to improve our understanding of the research in enterprise and entrepreneurship education landscape by connecting with the disciplines ‘Thought Leaders’ both in the UK and beyond.

Alison Price

Alison Price, Head of Policy and Professional Development, EEUK

Alison has worked to develop entrepreneurial capacity across the FE and HE sector for over 20 years.  By supporting curriculum change, staff development and the role of the educator as a catalyst within the development of entrepreneurial university, Alison is one of the most experienced staff developers working on enterprise and entrepreneurship in the UK having taught staff across UK, Europe and China.  Alison represents EEUK to explore European and UK policy with particular focus on what policy changes means to those working to create entrepreneurial outcomes in others and how it affects the practice and impact of UK enterprise educators.

Session summary

Policy Focus

This annual session is EEUK’s update on key policy and practice. By tracking business starts, educational practice & trends across areas such as knowledge exchange, entrepreneurial universities and government direction, this overview will review the last 12 months & prepare us for the next academic year. 

Professor Mark Hart

Academic Director, Aston Business School 

Professor Mark Hart is Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, Associate Director of the Aston Centre for Growth, and is one of the Programme Directors and Academic Lead of the national Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme. A 2014 recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, he has played a national role in promoting enterprise skills and supporting entrepreneurs as well as advising government on small business and entrepreneurship matters. He is a member of the Expert Advisory Council for the Government’s new Help to Grow: Management programme for small businesses across the UK. 

He is Deputy Director of the national Enterprise Research Centre (www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk) which is jointly hosted by Aston University and the University of Warwick and has as its mission to understand the drivers of small business growth.  Mark leads on business growth and productivity research to understand the dynamics of the private sector over time and the role of SMEs as well as contributing to the work on growth ambition and access to finance. He also manages the GEM UK national team for GEM Global which is the only international source of annual evidence on entrepreneurial attitudes, activity and aspiration (www.gemconsortium.org).

Panel, chaired by Professor Mark Hart in conversation with Aston Entrepreneurs

Professor Hart will chair a discussion with four Aston entrepreneurs who were supported by the University’s BSEEN programme to start up and have then been on one of the Centre for Growth’s scale up programmes and/or the Nat West accelerator. Mark will draw on the findings of the 2021 GEM report that found some positives about the pandemic from entrepreneurs who demonstrated resilience and reflected on and changed their business as a consequence. Panel members:

  • Cleo Morris – Founder of Mission Diverse
  • Geeta Salhan – Co founder of The Green Sisters
  • Connor Watt – Co Founder of Narce Media
  • Leigh Purnell – Founder of Petalite