Tag Archives: Business Economics and Informatics

Changing careers: from coffee shop manager to finance administrator

When Alba DeCarlo left school at 18 she never imagined she would get a degree. Despite that statement, this week she graduates from Birkbeck with a degree in BSc Business and has changed careers from a coffee shop manager to a Finance and Administrator lead for NBC Universal. This is her #BBKgrad story.

Alba with her sister Anna

Alba DeCarlo (R) with her sister Anna Rita DeCarlo (L) who is also graduating this year with a degree in BSc Marketing.

Alba first came to the UK from Italy aged 19, with very little English. She found a job as a waitress and eventually worked her way up to being the manager of a coffee shop from the ages of 21 to 25. While she enjoyed the social atmosphere and physicality of her job, Alba began to feel in need of a change. “I needed to escape the industry, just do something different. Then my mum said, ‘Why don’t you just go to university?’ I had not considered it an option for me but after doing some research I found Birkbeck.”

Since she could not give up work to study, Alba found Birkbeck’s evening model perfect for her: “It was the only university I applied for, so I put all my eggs in one basket!” Luckily Alba was accepted on to the business course that she hoped would expand her career options: “I wanted to study business because I had already gained skills working as a manager but I needed the theory. I wanted to know how businesses are created and run, so that maybe one day I could open my own.” She was so enthused by Birkbeck’s offer that Alba convinced her younger sister to start a marketing degree in the same year.

Alba found the opportunity to study again an enriching experience, “I learned how important it is to socialise and meet people, because before Birkbeck all I did was work, so most of my friends were from there. At Birkbeck I was able to meet people and go to the library and have access to books, everything was just right there for me.” She also benefitted from technology support from the College which enabled her to get a free laptop to use for her studies.

Like many students who come to the College, Alba encountered challenges along the way. SheAlba DeCarlo changed jobs a number of times to adapt to studying, even taking jobs abroad at times to earn enough money. In her final year, she decided to go back to working in a coffee shop and was eventually promoted to the Operational Training Manager of a number of premises. After a year she found out she was pregnant. Not discouraged by this, Alba did the maths and decided that she would still be able to complete her degree without pausing her studies. “I was lucky in a sense because I gave birth during the pandemic when classes and exams were held online which meant I could do everything at home and study – albeit while being very tired!”

True to form, Alba made the leap closer to her business ambitions to a job as a Finance and Administrator lead at NBC Universal before she had even graduated. She started out in the company as a Catering and Event Manager and because of her eye for numbers was eventually asked by the Account Manager to become an Administrator. “The degree has helped me get into finance, and I think it will help me get to where I want to be in the future.”

This week she celebrates completing this phase of her journey and looks forward to learning more and continuing to grow in her field.

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Department of Management Welcomes Professor Vijay Pereira for first Meet the Editor Session

The Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Business Research and Global Real Impact Editor for the Journal of Knowledge Management joined the Department for a virtual presentation on how to publish in top management journals.

Meet-the-Editor Sessions are free for anyone to join.

Screenshot of the group meeting for the Meet the Editor session

Dr Muthu De Silva (top left) and Dr Geoff Walters (top right) introduced this presentation by Professor Vijay Pereira (bottom left).

Dr Muthu De Silva, Director of Research and session chair opened the discussion by sharing the objective of the Meet the Editor series: to motivate and support our community of excellent scholars to thrive in research, during this difficult time.

While we are all missing face to face contact with colleagues across Birkbeck and beyond, it has to be said that lockdown has presented opportunities to be more creative and geographically ambitious with events in the School of Business, Economics and Informatics, as Dr Geoff Walters, Executive Dean reminded the audience during the welcome speech. Around fifty researchers in the field of Management tuned in to this online talk by Professor Vijay Pereira of NEOMA Business School, France, designed to provide greater insight into the types of research that top management journals are looking to publish.

As Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Business Research and Global Real Impact Editor for the Journal of Knowledge Management, as well as a member of the editorial board for a number of other journals (e.g. Journal of Management Studies), Professor Pereira has extensive knowledge of prestigious publications, commenting on the ‘outside the box’ thinking that he brings to academia and the journals on which he works.

In this session, Professor Pereira provided a detailed introduction to the ethos and outlook of the Journal of Business Research and the Journal of Knowledge Management, along with his advice for those looking to publish in these journals.

Journal of Business Research

The Journal of Business Research (JoBR) is a UK ABS 3* and ABDC ‘A’ journal. Firstly, Professor Pereira highlights the importance of understanding the scope of the journal in which you wish to publish. In the case of JoBR, in addition to the theoretical rigour, the journal aids the application of empirical research to practical situations and theoretical findings to the reality of the business world. This practical underpinning is reflected by JoBR’s broad target audience, which includes executives alongside scholars and researchers.

JoBR has a somewhat unique organisational structure, with two Editors-in-Chief, three to four Deputy Editors-in-Chief, five Special Issue Editors and 65 Associate Editors covering sixteen discipline areas – this number is large but unsurprising considering that JoBR receives 4,500 -5,000 submissions a year! While publication is competitive, the journal’s 6% acceptance rate represents a significant number of papers, so Professor Pereira warns not to be discouraged from applying.

There are three key points to consider when submitting to JoBR:

  1. The quality of the theory
  2. Robust data or concepts
  3. Real-world implications for business or management situations

There are also three key points to consider in terms of the journal’s positioning:

  1. JoBR is international in scope, looking for work from new contexts and new scholars and continuing to grow globally
  2. The journal has moved from being marketing focused to being interdisciplinary covering a wider range of management disciplines, such as international business and innovation
  3. JoBR has a key focus on impact – it is the number one cited marketing journal according to Google Scholar’s H Index

Keeping the three I’s of international, interdisciplinary and impactful in scope is key for researchers submitting to this journal.

Journal of Knowledge Management

In the second part of this presentation, Professor Pereira discussed the Journal of Knowledge Management, a leading journal in this field with an ABS 2* and ABDC ‘A’ rating.

To Professor Pereira’s knowledge, the Journal of Knowledge Management is the first journal to have a Global Real Impact Editor and has also recently appointed Regional Real Impact Editors.

Putting impact at the front and centre of the work it looks to publish, the Journal of Knowledge Management invites pieces by scholars, academics and individuals from industry. It is similarly international in scope, with articles from China, India, Brazil, France and the UK in the pipeline. The journal looks to maximise the diversity of its output without compromising on quality, and a focus on impact from the beginning of the process enables it to do this.

A focus on the practical impact and applicability of research is therefore key when submitting to this journal.

We would like to thank Professor Pereira for his time and for an insightful and informative start to our Meet the Editor Series. All are welcome to join us for our upcoming Meet the Editor events:

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Work, worklessness and wellbeing – COVID19 and beyond

Dr Gail Kinman, Visiting Professor of Occupational Health Psychology introduces a series of webinars to support organisations and their employees through the COVID19 pandemic and beyond.

The Covid19 pandemic is having a major impact on the way that we live, and how and where we work. For many people, it has been a time of setbacks and loss as businesses close, redundancy looms, and the effects of inequalities become ever more apparent. The post-pandemic future is uncertain, and little is yet known about its long-term implications for individuals and organisations. It is therefore crucial to help organisations and individuals maintain health and wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond and to encourage policy makers to consider how to meet the key challenges they are facing.

Public Health England have commissioned a series of seven webinars and associated resources to support organisations and employees by providing practical guidance on key issues of concern during these challenging times. With the Society of Occupational Health, I have been commissioned to organise these webinars and prepare follow-up briefings. The project is guided by a steering group that includes leading experts and employers’ organisations.

The webinars are free of charge and designed to support employers and employees from businesses large and small; professionals working in health and social care, public health, occupational health, and human resources; the community and voluntary sector; and policy makers.  The webinars are, however, open to everyone who has an interest in work and wellbeing. We have attracted a wide range of high-profile speakers from organisations such as MIND, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Business in the Community, the British Psychological Society, the Health and Safety Executive, the Centre for Better Ageing and the Carnegie Trust and there will also be presentations from leading academics working in the field of work and wellbeing.

Upcoming webinars:

  • 28 January 2021 (2 – 3.30 pm) Refreshing your approach to workplace diversity and inclusion post 2020
  • 4 February 2021 (2 – 4pm) Managing job insecurity and creating better quality work
  • 11 February 2021 (2 – 4pm) Managing stress, burnout and fatigue in health and social care
  • 24 February 2021 (2 – 4pm) Promoting workplace health and wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond
  • 3 March 2021 (2 – 4pm) Developing a COVID-secure health and wellbeing strategy
  • 10 March 2021 (2 – 4pm) Managing change – from restricting and redundancy to implementing home working.

Our first webinar, ‘Support for business to build back better: the benefits of age diversity’ was held on 21 January, attracting around 120 people from a range of sectors and with very positive feedback from attendees. Watch a video recording of the event on YouTube.

We look forward to seeing you at the forthcoming webinars. More information on each webinar and booking can be found on the Society of Occupational Medicine website.

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A place for new beginnings

Rajivan Rajamohan’s Birkbeck journey was fraught with personal challenges that brought him to the brink of giving up on his MSc in Economics. However, through will, self-care and support from friends and staff, last week he graduated. Here is his #BBKgrad story.

Rajivan Rajamohan

Rajivan Rajamohan

After completing a BA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Essex, Rajivan set about making his ambition to become an economist happen. The first step on his way to achieving his dream was completing a Graduate Diploma in Economics (GDE) to get him onto an MSc in his chosen area of study.

In 2016, Rajivan left his Wealth Management role at a bank in the City to begin his MSc at Birkbeck. Like many Birkbeck students, Rajivan felt the physical and mental demands of working full-time in a professionally demanding role while studying a subject that he didn’t have much previous experience in, “I had to work harder to fill the missing gaps in my knowledge, considerably more and quicker than most of my peers as my MSc was funded by myself with my full-time role as a Waiter for Nando’s”, he says. But that didn’t stop him diving headfirst into other commitments, taking the time to volunteer at Great Ormond Street Hospital and for Birkbeck’s Academic Panel on behalf of the Student Union, which earned him the ‘Birkbeck Colours and Honours Award’ in 2018.

It was during his GDE that Rajivan realised that the stress of exams was affecting him more than other students, with a fellow student urging him to seek help. Eventually Rajivan was diagnosed with the mental health condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which he discovered was triggered by exams. He explained, “While undertaking my GCSE exams at the age of 16, I went through unexpected and substantial trauma during the year of my final GCSE exams, which was not correctly diagnosed as PTSD for eight years. Due to the extremely delayed diagnosis, my PTSD was untreated and served to exacerbate the original trauma and exam-related anxiety.” Rajivan was able to begin treatment for his PTSD in the summer of 2016.

Being at Birkbeck meant that Rajivan could access disability support to help him with managing his rigorous and technically challenging exams for the first time in his academic studies, as well as receiving support from fellow students and lecturers who urged him to keep going with his degree, despite the challenges he faced.

Unfortunately, Rajivan suffered a further setback when he lost his creditworthiness due to a mistake made by a bank, meaning he could no longer work in that field, a huge blow as he had previously held roles in the financial sector. He said, “I am currently still seeking legal representation to take further legal advice and actions to rectify this error.”

Yet, now having completed his MSc, after three years, Rajivan can proudly declare that he has done it! “The support, kindness and compassion of my therapist, my Econometrics lecturer and a few of my friends from my undergraduate and postgraduate cohort helped me to stay focused and not to drop out of my degree.”

When asked what advice he would give to someone thinking of studying at Birkbeck, Rajivan urges you to, “Go for it and follow your dreams”. He believes the College’s flexibility is a saving grace, and the character of the students is fascinating: “it is only at Birkbeck where you meet incredible people with extraordinary stories and a whole community of individuals who have dedicated work ethics and a burning desire to reach their ambition.”

Rajivan’s concluding message would be to be kind and compassionate, to yourself and to others, because it’s not always clear what challenges people are facing, even if they project that they are coping well. He urges anyone taking up the challenge to “look after themselves with running, meditation and yoga because things could go unexpectedly wrong and when they do, always work with it and not against it. Be ready to look after your Mind, Body and Soul.”

Although his journey had its ups and downs, Rajivan recalled a quote that kept him going; “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”-Maria Robinson.

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