Let’s get this show on the road!


Written by Rachel Norton, ICZ Programme Officer

You may have noticed that Team ICZ have been quite quiet on the blogosphere recently. We’ve been working away on our ICZ Development Framework for University Council. This document pins down our deliverables for the immediate future of the ICZs and really shapes what we’re going to do and how the ICZs will change our University. This was no small task, and after lots of consultation and what felt like endless amendment, finally on the 14th October 2016, Council endorsed our proposals. We’re good to go. Let’s get this show on the road!

So what are we actually going to do I hear you say? Well, let me tell you, it’s exciting stuff!

We have 5 statements of intent, our building blocks for the development of the ICZs, have a look below:

  1. Every student has the opportunity for an integrated work-based learning experience
  2. Every programme is co-created with industry, and delivered with maximum flexibility of time, place and method
  3. Research and enterprise activities are grounded in the needs of industry and contribute to meeting a range of global challenges
  4. The University community enacts the ICZ principles in all its activities, ensuring the maximum cross University contribution is made to all four ICZs
  5. The University is the destination of choice for high quality students whose fit with industry as the future workforce ensures high levels of employability

So for this blog, lets focus on the first one. We’re going to make sure every student has the opportunity for an integrated work-based learning experience, that means putting industry partnership at the heart of everything we do. Our employability rating from the Destination of Leavers of Higher Education (DHLE) stats, it’s fair to say, are not that great; and if you’re a student, spending a substantial amount of money on your education, to develop and become the best that you can be, it’s no great stretch to say that at the end of it you want a good job, a graduate job. That’s our focus here, let’s make our students more employable, let’s give them the skills to apply their knowledge, an opportunity to learn on the job, both here at the University (we’re offering 50 internships per year), or with our partners. Everybody wins in this scenario.

Giving every student this opportunity is no mean feat, and of course, not all programmes have the same needs when it comes to work based learning, and not all students want the same experience. We have to be flexible, and for a large, complex organisation that isn’t an easy task. There will be work to do there, systems and process to navigate and questions and challenges, like there always is with big change, but ultimately it’s worth it.

Here’s an example. Back in June the University launched a new partnership with Manchester Storm, the ice hockey team. The opportunities for work-based learning from this single partner alone are vast. Students from Salford Business School help plan Storm events, students from the School of Arts and Media have got journalism covered, and the School of Health Sciences are providing sports rehabilitation and physiotherapy.   Our students can apply their knowledge in a real life situation, learning on the job. But on top of that we’re also accepting 3 of the Manchester Storm players onto our Executive MBA so they can consider the further development of their careers after ice hockey. That’s us investing in our students and our partners, and the Storm even threw in some free tickets to their first game! Like I said earlier. Everybody wins!



Endings and beginnings….


Written by Rachel Norton, ICZ Programme Officer

At the end of last week, I was out volunteering again.  This time at graduation.  I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never volunteered for this before, and I’ve been working here for 13 years.  I’d never actually been to see the end event, the culmination of all that hard work for all those people.  The instant I got there I wondered why I hadn’t got on board this celebration train sooner!  It was fantastic!  Such a good atmosphere, lots of smiles, amazing outfits, and organised like a military operation.  The Advancement Team did such a good job, in spite of a massive IT outage, everything ran smoothly, and outside of the odd lost and then found phone, everyone had such a good time.  I spent an afternoon speaking to lovely, happy graduates, meeting and greeting, taking pictures of them with their friends and family, and joining in the celebration!  I also met Emma, the woman inside the Maxwell the Lion outfit for the day…it was 25 degrees, I got sunburn, so hats off to her!

Like Open Day, graduation reminds you of why we’re all here, and it makes all our hard work, supporting our students through their degrees, helping them to achieve, and starting them on their working journey.  That’s a real privilege, and all those happy faces last week are testament to how well we do it.  We should be so proud of that!

The ICZs are going to provide the support to further enhance our student experience.  They’re going to provide the opportunity and the supporting structure to help make our graduates become more “work ready” and more employable, whether that’s building curriculum with industry partners, or the development of live briefs, flexible work based learning, or through partnered research and innovation.  Here’s an example.  Back over on our Engineering Showcase tour the week before last, I spoke to a Civil Engineering student, Gemma.  She was working on a project creating cardboard origami floor joists using new technology and materials provided by a local company, Gatorduct.  The Managing Director, Karl Sullivan is Salford Alumni.  The plan is to develop the joists for use in disaster relief shelters.  That’s huge!  It’s a fantastic opportunity for Gemma to learn and apply her knowledge, but it’s also great for Karl and Gatorduct, for the School, the University, the world!  That’s what it’s all about.  That’s the tangible outcome of an exceptional industry partnership, it’s a change maker.  Let’s do more of it!

In other exciting Alumni news, Team ICZ has a new member.  Marina Hristova, our last Students’ Union President has joined the team as the lead for the “Our People and the ICZ Programme” work stream.  She was at graduation too, to wave off her final cohort as the outgoing Students’ Union President as she starts her own journey with us, and we’re lucky to have her!  She’s got so many great ideas of how to get people involved, to help you really understand what ICZs are and what they mean for you.  She’s enthusiastic and excited to be on board and such great energy for the team, but then of course she is, she’s one of our Alumni!  She’s home grown!

Makers gonna make…Daters gonna date


Written by Rachel Norton, ICZ Programme Officer

Salford is now officially part of the Maker Movement.  It’s exciting times!   The first maker space at Salford, the Engineering Showcase, will sit within the Newton Refurbishment, which should be completed mid-2017, and even though the spades haven’t gone in the ground yet, the kit is brought, unpacked and ready to get used.  Neil Currie, the Maker Space Director, showed us round.  It is so cool!  We’re talking 3D printers taller than me, 3D scanners, super microscopes and unbelievably accurate laser cutters.  It’s going to be an amazing facility for our students, our staff and our industry partners.  This is all about learning through making, being able to get your hands dirty and have a go, engaging with our expertise, utilising our amazing technical support and gaining new skills by actually getting out there and doing.  And you know what?  It’ll be for everyone, whether you’re a podiatrist, a lawyer, an administrator.  If you want to learn through making, you can.  Right here.   Speak to Neil (N.G.R.Currie@salford.ac.uk ) about Maker Mondays, they’re going to be amazing.

As well as the development of the Maker Space, over in Newton Building, in the Structures Lab, they’ve gone and got themselves an actual working jet engine!  We had a little demonstration on our tour round.  I was embarrassingly excited about this, and obviously first to volunteer to press the button to turn it on.  We all donned some lovely green ear defenders, I performed my pressing a big green button job perfectly, and then it was a big show of loud noise and flames.  It got me quite excited about going on holiday next month, but for an aeronautical engineering student, being able to estimate, test, take readings, apply learnt knowledge, with an actual jet engine, that’s an amazing facility.  That’s a reason to come to University, to come to Salford!  Have I convinced you yet that this is a great place to be right now?

No?  Well then how about a bit of speed dating?

Now I’m not one for speed dating really, the thought of it terrifies me.  But when we got an e-mail from Simon Chadwick, the Development Lead for the Sports ICZ, inviting us to his session, Jen and I went along and you know, it was brilliant!  The point was that like-minded people who either professionally, or personally had a passion for sport got together to talk, face to face, build potential new partnerships, share ideas and just find out what other people are doing.  Talking to Mike Taylor from the Enterprise team about yoga led to me being invited to a group working in partnership with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue and Greater Manchester Police to review and improve all three of our organisations’ approach to Health and Well Being, that’s potential positive change for all of us right there!  On a personal level, I was invited for a coffee by Helen Matthews in the School of Health Sciences to chat about nutrition for running, and to a martial arts class run by Parveen Tamadon-Nejad from Salford Business School, I’ll be taking them both up on those offers.   All of this in an hour! AMAZING!  There’ll be another similar event coming up which will include external organisations also.  We’ll advertise that closer to the time obviously, but just think about what you could get out of that hour, the expertise you’d have access to for sharing ideas.  If you’re passionate about sport come along, maybe you’ll get lucky too!


You only get one chance to make a good first impression

Written by Rachel Norton, ICZ Programme Officer


At the end of last week, I was out of the office, volunteering at Open Day.  I LOVE Open Day, even though you’re on your feet all day, even though it can get really busy and a little bit stressful, even though it really rained this year, it is such a good day.  Every time. This is because Open Day is what it’s all about; it’s a big fat reminder of why we’re here.  Seeing students through our doors, supporting and helping them through the ups and downs and thick and thin, and then seeing them graduate, after all that hard work and effort, ready and hungry for the working world.  You can’t help but feel good about that.  I’d recommend that everyone volunteer, it’s really well organised, the team in Marketing & External Relations do a great job, and to be honest it just makes you feel good.  Contact Jen Birdsall (j.b.birdsall@salford.ac.uk)if you fancy giving it a go.

Open Day is full of smiles, excitement, anticipation, curiosity, questions,  a little bit of anxiety maybe, and a stream of Peter Pans looking younger each year, or maybe I’m just getting older…the less said about that the better.  This is our chance, as a University, to get our metaphorical glad rags on, turn the charisma up, and make that good first impression, because it’s a big and important decision for those potential students, probably the biggest they’ll have made so far, and an expensive one at that.

I won’t bang my ICZ drum all that much this week.  You’re getting it now.  It’s clear that providing students with opportunity to learn, play, make, apply their knowledge in the working world, do a placement or an internship, link with industry partners, take part in some research, is all good stuff.  This is saying to students come here, have fun, work hard, be more employable, take home more than a degree, take home your Salford learning experience and just a little bit more, an edge against that other person being interviewed for the same job.

I went to a workshop run by Paul Rowlett and Sam Grogan a few  weeks ago that was about just that added value.   They call it Salford Curriculum+, and it’s brilliant!  It’s kind of the ICZ little sister.  We’re talking about giving our students more for their money, helping them to develop and learn the skills needed to be more employable and applying those in an actual working environment.  It’s learning goodness who doesn’t love that!  Gill Molyneaux (G.Molyneaux@salford.ac.uk )is your contact should you want a piece of that pie.

Anyway, the workshop set me thinking, why should that added value stop with the students?  We can all develop, learn and ultimately be more employable.   I’ve asked to be involved in one of the Salford Curriculum+ workstreams, because I’ll learn more, develop new skills, and may be help make actual change, yes for those students coming to Open Day next year, but for me and my working life and for any potential first work impressions I may need to make in the future.

It will be my Salford Work+, just like volunteering for an Open Day is.  It’s personal development, continuous improvement, and usually it’s having a nice time with nice people, and it makes coming to work fun and worthwhile.   There is so much opportunity at Salford, and you really get out what you put in.  So I’m putting in a bit more.  You should too.






Follow the Thought Leader…better still be a Thought Leader

Written by Rachel Norton, ICZ Programme Officer


Thought Leadership was quite a new concept to me, and not something I was familiar with before joining Team ICZ.  What is a thought leader?  Is it something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984?  Not quite…there’s no mind control here.  As I see it Thought Leaders are people who just get to that idea first, they get it, they apply it, and more importantly they tell people about it, get people involved, excited and interested.  What’s great about thought leadership is that anyone can be a thought leader; everyone has the ability to learn something new, to develop, and to inspire. Universities are full of thought leaders!  Learning, development and inspiration are kind of our bread and butter after all.

Our ICZ Thought Leaders were asked to be involved because they were already working in a way that fitted with our ICZ message; in fact they were way ahead of us, building partnerships, starting conversations, growing ideas, making stuff.  This was already part of their day job.  We didn’t have to do any ICZ sales pitch to these guys, they already got it, they were selling it before we even had an ICZ label, and that isn’t uncommon.  As I said in my last blog, we are doing lots of this stuff already.  The ICZs are about growing and supporting this work.  Shouting loudly about it so students, staff, industry, researchers hear us and think the University of Salford is the place to go for exceptional industry partnerships.

The COO Networking Session on the 10th June flagged some concerns around this group and its membership.  It’s fair to say that there wasn’t a democratic process for pulling together our group of Thought Leaders; we asked around, we got some names and some interested people got involved.    The formation of this group could have been better and more widely communicated, and we’ll learn from that, but what’s important here is that there doesn’t need to be a single thought leaders group.  This was always intended to be a starting point.  This was us dipping our toe into the University pool and seeing what bites.

This group of thought leaders did not disappoint, they have come up with some great ideas, challenged everyday thinking about how we can structure, implement and deliver the ICZ programme.  You can do the same.

If you have an idea, something that fits the ICZ agenda and that you want to drive forwards then set up a group. We can help with that, we can connect you with like-minded people, we can offer projects for work, we can support you to facilitate your group so you can inspire and develop others.  You’ll be able to feed in to and influence the wider work of the ICZs.  If you’re up for the challenge then do it! The ICZs are here to foster, develop, and enhance our industry partnerships and the more people who are involved, whoever you are, whatever your background and experience, the more successful it will be.

If you want to be involved, get involved, contact us at icz@salford.ac.uk


Why did the chicken cross the road? And what is an ICZ anyway?

Written by Rachel Norton, ICZ Programme Officer

Cake!On Friday, the Industry Collaboration Zone (ICZ) Team were invited to facilitate one of the Chief Operating Officer’s Networking Sessions.  We were excited and a little nervous about this session. The ICZs were building momentum, we had finally been able to release our Programme Brief, and start explaining to the wider University what we’d been up to for the past few months and what the future of our single strategic priority was going to look like.  This was our first big public outing, our first step onto that busy road.  We were right to be excited, and a little nervous, Team University of Salford did not hold back, and rightly so.  This is a big deal.  This is going to change things.  We have to get this right.

We used padlet, a virtual wall for people to post their questions about ICZs.  What’s great about padlet is that it provides a nice safe, anonymous place to post questions.  No hand raising required.  Everyone can get involved.  And wow, it worked!  Tony had reckoned he’d be able to answer any ICZ question, and he had a good go in amongst some awful chicken jokes, but what he could answer was a drop in a sea of questions.  There was lots of enthusiasm, lots of desire to get involved, to make change, and some understandable concern about what this was going to be and how it was going to make a difference.

The biggest question, the one on everyone’s lips was “What is an ICZ? What’s it going to look like for me?” and looking back at the questions and comments this morning, we’ve got a bit more work to do here.  So, as the newest member of Team ICZ, here’s my definition.  This is what it means to me, this is what I’ve learnt since I started in February.

The ICZs aren’t something really new particularly, lots of people picked up on that.  They’re something which we’ve known for a while is a good idea.  I mean you don’t have to look far to see the value in collaborating and partnering with industry.  It’s a no brainer for teaching, research, philanthropy, building a better University, building better business, building a better community.  And lots of people are doing it at Salford, excelling at it!  The ICZs will provide the framework and support to do more of it, to make it our thing.  Whether that’s as simple as finding money or space, or facilitating partnerships, starting conversations, growing ideas, building curriculum, making something (Speak to Neil Currie, he’s do some amazing stuff in Newton Building).  I know it feels a little bit amorphous at the minute which makes it feel uncertain and a bit scary, and it is.  But this is a big organisation and change doesn’t happen overnight.  We’ve got the bones of a structure, a good strong structure, and on Friday, you started giving us the meat to go on those bones.  The ideas about how to do things better, and the challenging questions making us reflect and really think about what is important.  You got involved, and that’s brilliant, stay involved!  Get in touch (icz@salford.ac.uk)!  We’re in this together.