Back in the summer, Alisha Tuladhar had the opportunity to undertake a placement with The Innovation Beehive, a consultancy firm based in Cirencester. We asked Alisha a few questions about her placement and what she gained from it:
Please give a summary of the placement and the work/activities you undertook.
“My placement at The Innovation Beehive comprised of a range of activities. I attended various workshops, talks and presentations both internally and externally with the firms’ clients, for example: Two-days-Innovation Bootcamp Workshop at a client’s Head-Office in London, also had the opportunity to attend the Retail Week at Gloucester, attended several networking sessions in the Growth Hub and was part of the community on site.”
Did the placement meet your original objectives and expectations? What were the tangible outputs or outcomes? Where there any unexpected outcomes or opportunities arising from the placement?
“Yes, the placement met my original objectives and expectations. I initially had two major expectations: assisting the Consultant Head, on projects and using my research skills to help with the firms’ activities. I had expected my main job to be understanding the clients’ needs, analyse them and propose solutions that are customer-centric, technologically feasible and economically sound.
These expectations were not only met, but in fact, surpassed. Since I was not only involved in client facing projects but also in the development of an internal training material for a large multi-national firm, it was a humbling experience for me to be working amongst an extremely knowledgeable team of consultants. This allowed me to gain an insight on how training materials were created and eventually enrolled in large MNCs.
Moreover, again unexpectedly, I also got the opportunity to go to various events: some in London, some in Gloucester and was also invited to the Polo Club for a team outing. They were all tremendously valuable networking experiences.”
How has the placement developed your insight into working with non-academic partners and the benefits and/or challenges of collaboration?
“Indeed, there are a few differences whilst working with a non-academic partner. The first major difference was that the non-academic sector works in a pragmatic manner and is highly outcome-driven, rather than novelty-driven. In a PhD, we are often seeking for contribution to knowledge or are often
truth-driven. Whereas, in a non-academic setting, it is more about outcomes and getting things done, rather than spending too much time on the foundational knowledge/ literature review.
Second difference was the fact that there was very limited time allocated for research tasks. I think whilst doing a PhD or writing papers, the research component is lengthy and a time-consuming process, however with non-academic partners, the deadlines are stricter and tighter. There isn’t much time allocated for a deep-dive research. One needs to be extremely fast and proficient at their tasks.
And the final difference is the number of stakeholders present. I personally felt that whilst doing a PhD, its more about your supervisory team, which would be around 2-3, however, whilst during the placement, I was working with a larger team and had a lot of different moving parts. For example, in order to organize one event, there are clients, printing presses, designers, website, marketing communications hence it is more of a team effort with a smooth communication requirement. I personally found that in a PhD there aren’t too many stakeholders.”
Has the experience of doing the placement made you think about the potential or the impact of your research differently? If so, how?
“My experience at The Innovation Beehive has definitely shaped my thinking to be more wary of how my research might be applied, what value it brings to UK businesses. More specifically, I have realised that
there is a lot of good research being done and published in Management Journals, however not many are read or known to business executives. I think the way forward needs to be more inclusive whereby the government, academia and businesses not only have access to research but also are conversing and sharing knowledge with each other. One way to ensure research impact is to publish in Open- Journals perhaps, this is something I personally will aim to do.”
Are there opportunities for further collaboration with the organisation either for yourself, or for other students, in the future?
“Yes, I think The Innovation Beehive team and founder, Mok, is very supportive towards students and the academic sector.
In fact, Joe, the Innovation Director of the firm has already come to the University twice to record three academics for their Podcast. Hence, I think there is definitely more room for collaboration.”
What advice would you give to a fellow student who is considering undertaking a placement?
“My advice to a fellow placement student would be “listen, learn and be proactive”. I truly believe in the salience of being curious, asking the right questions, and making sure you are gaining the most of everything that your placement has to offer. Placement is a great opportunity to learn but you will only learn once you ask. So be courageous, be proactive and do your best.”