Social-Sustainability Consultancy Challenge

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A photo of a full classroom, with all the students looking at the board.


My name is Raluca, I’m a first-year Management and Human Resources student and this year as part of my programme I took part in a Social-Sustainability Consultancy Challenge.

Since my degree is accredited by the CIPD, during my first year we have completed a professional development module which is designed to explore and enhance our sense of professional purpose and employability. The culmination in our final term was the chance to take part in a live consultancy challenge - a real brief for a client who needed our help. A chance for us to add some practical experience to our CV and widen our professional network.

Before attending the event, we were given background information about corporate and social sustainability on our client from Westminster Controls Ltd, a Leeds-based building management engineering company. That way, we could get ourselves up to speed before the day and do any additional background research. But we weren’t given the actual task until we were in the room with our client.

The challenge

On the day, at the start, we met Claire-Louise Chapman, founder, and Managing Director of the Shared Value Business. She talked to us about social sustainability, what it is in practice, why it matters and therefore what consultancy in this field looks like. We then heard directly from our client, Adam Metcalf Company Director for Westminster Controls. He talked to us in more detail about the work of his firm and the challenges they face meeting the increasing demands for social-sustainability impact reporting. He tasked us, in groups, to evaluate MD Westminster Controls against the information we had been given on social value. We were asked to complete a SWOT analysis and produce a social-sustainability statement and provide recommendations for our client. We were supported in our efforts by Claire-Louise, along with our module leaders Dr Beth Suttill and Vicky Metcalf, as well as MD of 4Box Consulting and LUMS Leader in Residence Carl Fiztsimons, who has been working with us throughout this module as Industry Champion. The challenge took all morning, including analysis time, followed by sharing our ideas with the rest of the class and feeding back our ideas and recommendations to Adam.

What did I think?

It was really rewarding to understand more about social sustainability and to also develop some practical skills - I didn’t know how to do a SWOT analysis, nor did I understand the process of consultancy which taught me skills that I’m sure I will use again such as active listening, problem-solving and time management, and finding the best recommendations for our client. Having the chance to assess sustainability credentials is also something I imagine will be an increasingly important professional skill. In relation to a HR career, it links perfectly with so many aspects of what makes an organisation and its workforce a productive, happy and healthy one.

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