Companies in the North-East are increasingly turning to expertise in universities, part-icularly business schools, to help them manage organ-isational change in today's frantic world. With more and more firms realising that failing to plan for change is, in reality, planning to fail, universities are responding by offering research, consultancy and training to support human resource management, leadership and the management of change.
A good example is Teesside Business School, which last year set up three new research centres at the University of Teesside, including a Centre for Leadership and Organisational Change led by Professor Paul Iles.
Among the companies they are working with is Cramlington-based Jackel Limited. The firm is part of the baby products division of Mayborn Group plc, a leading producer of baby accessories marketed globally under the Maws, Sangenic and Tommee Tippee brands.
They recognised the need to respond to the challenge of change by appointing Alison Pearce as head of innovation and business development.
"Change is a challenge that has to be faced by every function within an organisation," said Alison. "The main catalyst for change is the relentless developments in information and communications technology (ICT).
"ICT provides every organisation with the opportunity to meet the needs of its customers in different ways, and any organisation that is truly customer-focused needs to embrace these opportunities."
Prior to joining Jackel, Alison worked for WH Smiths and Boots, with whom she spent her last three years in Paris undertaking strategic analysis for Boots Healthcare.
"At first, it was quite a culture shock, moving from a heavily resourced multi-national to a much smaller business, but I am really relishing the challenge," said Alison.
"The brief for the Innovation Team is to spearhead change throughout the organisation, which also has facilities in the US, Hong Kong and China. Specifically, we have been tasked to look at key areas such as cultural development, business development and strategic marketing, product development, project management and the management of intellectual property, including patents."
Having recruited her team of 11, Alison went looking to see if there was any European funding available to help the firm engage with available academic expertise in the region. This led to meetings between representatives from the University of Teesside's Business School and the European Process Industries Competitiveness Centre (EPICC). …