News In Brief

December 2003

Research Finds Scottish Tourism Industry in Buoyant Mood

Research undertaken by The Scottish Centre of Tourism (SCoT) has found that the Scottish tourist industry is confident about business prospects in 2004. Whilst this is very welcome, it also emerged that many owners / managers are having trouble achieving a balance between work and life.

The project, funded by the European Social Fund, involved an on-line and postal survey to owners / managers of businesses across Scotland asking their opinions on the factors affecting trading levels and recruitment / retention in Scottish tourism.

Over 300 responses were received from a cross-section of businesses and the results show that the sector is positive about the future. Approximately 65% of respondents were either extremely confident or confident about business trading in 2004. Perhaps of more significance is that only 7% were worried about the coming year.

The wide-ranging survey also looked at skills gaps in tourism and found that many owner / managers have concerns about their own time management skills and inability to delegate tasks. It is therefore not surprising that the biggest concern amongst respondents was achieving a proper balance between work and life. The need to improve e-marketing skills was also high on their list of concerns.

Andrew Martin, Director of SCoT said. “The results are extremely interesting but we should not be too surprised that time management is a major issue. Scotland’s tourist industry comprises many small businesses and finding the time and financial cost of training, and staying on top of business-related issues is difficult for small operators.”

The next stage of the research project at RGU is to develop learning and development solutions that will help businesses in the tourism sector to reduce or eliminate as many of the skills gaps as possible.

Deirdre Mactaggart, who is leading the project at RGU said, “Due to the fragmented nature of the industry we believe that the solution to delivering training lies in the development of a virtual resource centre specifically designed for the tourism business. This will allow individuals to access course material from their computer at times and locations that suit them - giving total flexibility.”

Sector specific focus groups will be set up, including representatives from the businesses who have taken part in the research, to provide guidance on the priority areas for action. The virtual resource centre is expected to be launched in July 2004.

David Cochrane, Director of Springboard Scotland, welcomed the findings of the research. “The development of a virtual resource centre will stimulate demand amongst the tourism sector for training and provide another medium for the industry to meet the aspirations and needs of its staff.”

Beauty Boost

Kirsty Duff, a second year pharmacy student at RGU, has recently launched an innovative beauty therapy business in Aberdeen - Kirsty's Kosmetics.

[IMAGE: Kirsty Duff]

This comes on the heels of her involvement with "Connections", the summer entrepreneurship boot camp held at Strathclyde University where she was one of a team of delegates from Robert Gordon University.
A qualified beauty therapist, Kirsty has over ten years experience in the field and has set up a mobile business, offering a comprehensive range of beauty treatments - from waxing to nail care alongside many complementary therapies such as aromatherapy.
Kirsty, originally from Lanarkshire and now living at Woolmanhill said, "There is a niche in the Aberdeen market for affordable beauty treatments, particularly when combined with the convenience of home visits. I am looking forward to the challenge of running my own business and evolving the Kirsty's Kosmetics service to meet the demands of my customers."
Kirsty can be contacted by e-mail at or by telephone on 07887 751461.

International night is hailed as a success

The International and European Student Welcome Reception was held at the Forum in Aberdeen in October. On the night, more than 150 students packed the venue to meet course leaders and members of academic and support staff in an event which is designed to give international students an opportunity to meet one another as well as being able to talk informally to representatives of RGU.

Opening the evening, University Principal Professor William Stevely, spoke of the importance and significance of international students at RGU and the powerful contribution that they make not only to the University, but also to the city of Aberdeen. He also mentioned the importance of exchanging cultural values in an academic setting, which leads to a more fulfilling and wider perspective being engendered amongst the home students.

Many students had turned out in national costume - a very colourful and exciting feature of social events for International students.

The event marked the end of the month-long Orientation programme in which international students are guided into their new lives in the UK by the staff at the International Office.

Thorpe Molloy Recruitment Placement Prize

[IMAGE: Fiona Duncan (Accounting & Finance Lecturer), Amanda Robb (Senior Manager at Thorpe Recruitment), Kelly Munro and David Bryan]

This year’s Thorpe Molloy Recruitment Placement Prize went to Kelly Munro, a 4th year Accounting and Finance student.

The £500 cash prize is awarded after a shortlist of students have given presentations on their placement year to a panel of judges including David Bryan, Acting Placement Manager, Amanda Robb from Thorpe Molloy and Fiona Duncan, Accounting and Finance Lecturer.   

David Bryan, Acting Placement Manager said, “We pride ourselves on our close relationship with the business community. Kelly excelled in her placement year and this helps us to continue building the University’s excellent reputation industry-wide. Thorpe Molloy have shown consistent commitment to our students and we look forward to continuing this relationship well into the future.”

89% of UK organisations communicating ineffectively

[IMAGE: Professor Dennis Tourish]

Up to 89% of British organisations are not communicating effectively, according to research included in a new book co-edited by Professor Dennis Tourish from Aberdeen Business School. Key Issues in Organisational Communication states that although two way dialogue between managers and staff is vital to ensure the success of all organisations it is rarely implemented effectively.

‘Most managers are over-working but under-communicating’ says Dennis Tourish. ‘They take on board more and more work but don’t take the time to keep people informed. The less they keep them informed the more inclined people are to delegate upwards, making managers work even harder, leaving even less time to communicate. Communication is only successful when it works both ways. All too often managers disseminate information to staff but there is little upward communication and limited opportunity to voice opinions. If this is unchecked, then managers and their staff can become like the Americans and the British - two sets of people divided by a common language. Yet to succeed most organisations now need a fully business literate workforce, and everyone’s whole hearted engagement with change.’

The book investigates the fact that there is often little correlation between what research has proven to work and what most organisations actually do. For example downsizing has become hugely popular but research shows that it rarely works. Companies in the UK which features on the list of best 100 companies to work for have been shown consistently to out perform the FTSE normal share index. But although how people are managed makes the most impact on bottom line performance, only 18% of training deals with how to do it. ‘This book seeks to show managers how improving communication improves their bottom line’ said Professor Tourish. ‘A sane workplace is important for its own sake, but it also makes good business sense.’

Professor Tourish has also co-authored another book with Owen Hargie and David Dickson, due to be published by Palgrave in January called 'Communication Skills for Effective Management’.

The future of nuclear energy

The future of nuclear energy is one of the most controversial issues facing society today. A wide spectrum of opinions is held by the major stakeholders; government, industry and the public.

[IMAGE: Prof. Derek Jackson and Prof. Walter Ambrosini]

A research seminar held at RGU’s School of Engineering entitled Nuclear Energy � A Worldwide Scenario Past, Present and the Future examined the current state of the nuclear energy industry and what lies ahead.

The seminar provided the opportunity to join in discussion with experts Professor Derek Jackson from The University of Manchester and Professor Walter Ambrosini from The University of Pisa, Italy, who provided an international perspective on the past, present and future of nuclear energy.

University Takes Russian Oil Men Offshore for Training

A group of senior oil executives from Russian company Lukoil went offshore as part of a four week training programme with Univation and RGU.

The training contract was a major coup for Univation, the commercial arm of RGU, and Abalt Services who are assisting the university in the delivery of the training programme. Organising offshore trips for training programmes can be difficult but Canadian company, CNR International, agreed to play host to the 18 Russians when they visit one of the operator’s North Sea platforms on Saturday.

Tony Laurenson, Business Development Executive at Univation said, “Lukoil is the second largest oil company in the world by reserves and we are pleased to be asked to provide high level training for some of their top people in Aberdeen. The aim is to develop their awareness of offshore oil and gas technology and techniques since Lukoil is now developing offshore fields in addition to their huge onshore assets. We are extremely grateful to CNR International for providing invaluable first hand experience of current best practice in the North Sea.”

[IMAGE: A selection of the corporate merchandise available]

Corporate merchandise at RGU

The new range of RGU merchandise is now available. The range includes sweatshirts, scarves, clocks, key rings, desk accessories, photo frames, glassware and silverware with 15% of the cost returning to the university. You can view the full range and purchase online at:

Delivery takes approximately two weeks.

Eddie Conquers the Great North Run

[IMAGE: Eddie Smith and Malcolm Watson]

Eddie Smith, Security Receptionist at RGU, handed over a cheque for £215 to Malcolm Watson, Trustee of The Mission East Trust, last month to help the suffering in Sierra Leone.

Eddie ran The Great North Run in Newcastle with his youngest son Steve and would like to thank everyone at RGU who sponsored him.

Dr James Vant

Dr James Vant, who was consultant to the Business School from 1985 to 1994, died in September 2003. He served as examiner, supervisor and adviser at doctorate and diploma levels and gave unstintingly of his vast knowledge of the offshore oil industry.

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