United Kingdom

Entrepreneurs by degree

Originally published in BQlive magazine and website on 9/3/2016 http://www.bqlive.co.uk/2016/03/09/entrepreneurs-by-degree/

An entrepreneurial degree achieved without teacher, classroom or exams sounds questionable but Nina Jussila is helping that to come about in North East academia. Brian Nicholls looks into it.

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Once you meet Nina Jussila it shouldn’t surprise you that aspiring entrepreneurs from Newcastle Business School have given Northumbria University the distinction of winning a national contest to find successful start-ups.

A learning support officer, Nina is also a key personality behind the launch of a new entrepreneurial business management degree course, which Northumbria to its credit has been the first of four UK universities to introduce. If the course proves as successful as early results suggest, we shall be justified in asking why UK universities haven’t tried it out long before, since it has been turning out successful entrepreneurs in Finland for around two decades now.

Nina herself is a product, and today is an educational entrepreneur. Jyväskylä University, Finland’s second largest university – in terms of masters degrees conferred, and the birthplace of education in the Finnish language (from 1863)  – has gained Jyväskylä (population 135,591) the soubriquet Athens of Finland, precisely for its contribution to education.

Jyväskylä, though the largest city of central Finland is a much smaller host to academia than Oxford, Edinburgh, and certainly Newcastle, Sunderland or Teesside. Yet its innovative programme for entrepreneurs started easily enough. A lecturer there, wishing to try something different, displayed a poster. “Do you want to travel around the world and learn some marketing?” it asked. The first team of students, on graduating, went on the road with the money they had made.

Newcastle Business School’s course has been developed with what’s called the Team Academy in the Jyväskylä Institute of Science and Technology. A 10-year check of the programme in Finland showed the percentage of Team Academy graduates there starting new businesses was five to 10 times higher than in traditional higher education institutions. One out of every three of the Finnish graduates start a business straight after finishing their studies.

To anyone wavering about a university Nina-02_268x179education the course towards an entrepreneurial business management degree sounds tempting: no teachers, no exams, no classrooms. But there’s always a day of reckoning, and for these students there are still assignments to be done, presentations to be made and reflections expressed – all fully connected with their chosen business.

From the start they’re doing business with real money, cultivating real customers. They’re pushed into the field to talk to people and make contracts. “Everything is real,” Nina points out. She heard about the course when considering her future and thought: “That’s something I’d definitely like to do. It’s made such a huge impact on me. I was able to do things no-one would ever expect me to do,” she recalls.

After graduating at 23 and taking a gap year, she started her own company as an educational coach and working on other projects also. “So many young people feel they don’t fit in the normal model of learning,” she observes. “I wondered how I could help others like that to succeed as well. Afterwards I didn’t want to stay in Finland. I thought Spain could be interesting but decided England’s business culture was closer to Finland’s, and it’s a nice place with the opportunity I was looking for.”

Newcastle and Bristol were the first cities to test the course. “I had the opportunity to come to Newcastle for a few months to help out, and here I am after just over two years involved in running the course,” says Nina, who is 26. Northumbria’s course is going well, she feels, as the success in the competition seems to have borne out. “The first year is always hard for students,” she elaborates. “They have no role models. But some people are passionate about a particular interest and think how to build a business out of it. Many come in with no idea at all. They simply feel that running their own business is how they want to do things.”

By the second of the three years’ study they understand the culture more and can see others who started their business. It’s all about learning by doing. Aspirants are not told what they should do. “When they first come in we lend them £10,” Nina explains. “They must make as much with that £10 as possible. They’re a bit shocked at first but that’s the whole ethos.  That’s their seed fund. They bring in some money with the start of their business and invest that for the next project. It works.”

They obviously have to decide how to learn about marketing. They have to find books, find people who already knowledgeable about marketing, and adapt as necessary to plan their project and improve their concept.

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“It’s just-in-time learning,” Nina explains. “We don’t tell them ‘you must learn all this now’ because they won’t need it all now and may soon forget it. So it’s learning through need. Once you need that information you have to learn it.” Also the students are based in a business rather than a traditional environment of academia, so they can be surrounded by actual entrepreneurs. That’s why the Newcastle course is run at the Northern Design Centre at Gateshead, rather than in Northumbria University itself. They don’t have a work placement because, as Nina puts it, their own company is their work placement.

Around 65 students – team entrepreneurs, they are called – are on the Northumbria course, making up six teams in total. Each team company has one coach – “our academic staff coach rather than teach,” Nina stresses. “I’m not academically inclined and don’t have my own team. But I’m part of every team, running everything other than the academic side.”

When Nina and her team colleagues graduated they closed the company they had been building. But four different companies, which had already been started during the course, continued. “On graduating, you can decide whether you want still to be with the company you have worked on. Our third year students here are now deciding whether to incorporate their businesses,” Nina says.

So what of her own entrepreneurial future? “I’d love to stay a few more years in England, then who knows?” she wonders. “I have a passion about considering how to change education. I’m doing my masters now and it could help me get credibility for a future company. People will listen to me more. But I don’t see myself as a lecturer. Bouncing ideas off other people is what gives me energy.”

Meanwhile her existing endeavours draw appreciation. An associate says: “She’s a lovely, vibrant young woman – a huge support and font of knowledge for the students already firming up their business plans for the future.”

You can also find the article from their North East & Cumbria: Spring 2016 Magazine (pp.64-67):

 

Tiimiakatemia

Taster of the Learning Revolution in Tanzania

I am so honoured that I got invited to coach few training sessions in Team Academy Iringa in Tanzania. I just got back from that trip and I am still so excited of everything that happened in there.

First when I got that invitation I was a bit scared as I didn’t know what they would need and if my coaching would be any beneficial for them. But after contacting them,  finding out what is the situation at the moment and getting their feedback for my ideas I felt a bit more confident.

This had been their first year to run the Team Academy, so the teampreneurs had started just eight months ago, but even in that short time, they had been able to create a real Team Academy atmosphere in there and the place felt so homely right away. That is so weird feeling when you travel to the other side of the world, but when there is something like Team Academy which connects you so strongly it feels like you almost know the people already.

International Challenge

I have been always really passionate about the international network, -collaboration and about the opportunities those can bring, so I decided to run my sessions mostly around them, as I had understood the teampreneurs hadn’t had that much interaction with the other Team Academies in the past year. After I told my story and about my passions and goals I told them about the Global Team Academy network and a little bit about each unit in it, showed them some channels they could use to get in touch with them and then I gave them a challenge. They would have 24h to get in touch with the other teampreneurs from the network, and on the next day they would have to present what they had found out. First we started to think what they would like to ask from them and then it was time to put the plans in to action. You could really feel the excitement from them, but it was still so difficult to know if they would be able to reach the other teampreneurs as it was such a short time, but now we just had to hope the best.

Results from the challenge

I was so excited to hear the results on the next day, everyone was in a good mood which even raised my excitement. We decided to give them 20min to create the presentations about their findings by using 5E (most people know it as 4E: Entertainment, Education, Escapism and Esthetics, but we also have our own eSpirit of Team Academy in there). First they seemed a bit lost, looked like they didn’t know where to start with it, but by the end of planning the room was on “fire” and I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts. They were ready, so it was time for the presentations.

The presentations were all so different, one team was pretend to be a football team, one was travelling on space, one was a group of people who inspired them most and the last one was a group of pop starts, so the presentation were definitely very entertaining. But the most exciting thing was that all the teams had been able to get in touch with the teampreneurs, which was just amazing. They had been asking them about their projects, about what motivates them and what kind of goals they had, but also about potential future collaboration. They had learned that the others are facing exactly same challenges as them and what really warmed my heart was when they told that now they really feel like they are part of the big family, part of the Team Academy family. Also my favourite quote from the presentations was “If all TA’s could work together, we could do a real revolution”. That was so powerful and that is so true!

I was so pleased to hear all the results and to see the energy they got out of that exercise in such a short time and most importantly I hope this really helped to open the doors to keep the communication going on from both side of the network. As even we are physically far away from each other, that doesn’t mean anything anymore in this world as we can so easily keep in touch. This challenge also proved that correct.

Check-out

In the end we were checking out and one teampreneur suggested that in our check-out round we should tell a one thing what others can’t do, but what in TA you can. It was so empowering to hear all the things they confidently said aloud, I also checked out: “Others follow the paths which already exist, but teampreneurs know how to create their own paths.”

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Tiimiakatemia, United Kingdom

Can travelling help you to become a better entrepreneur?

I was 15 when I did my first proper trip abroad, we went to Ireland for one week, but even though I didn’t speak any english at that time I was already hooked. Since that I have travelled to 25 different countries, learned to speak english while living in States, worked in 5 different countries and that way learned a lot about communicating with people from different backgrounds and even with people who I don’t share a common language.

So what else can you learn from travelling?

When travelling everything doesn’t always go like planned, flights might be delayed, bags get lost and suddenly you have to adapt the new situation and find ways to continue your journey. It will really develop your ability to adapt, which is also a key skill when working as an entrepreneur. To try to prevent these situations you will learn a lot about time management, as you don’t wanna miss your flight or in short time you are able to plan how to see all the best sites from the city.

It will also raise your cultural awareness, nowadays world is so international anyways, so even small start-ups are expected to interact with foreign cultures. When travelling you will learn about other cultures and differences we have with each other and that is really powerful competence to have when you are an entrepreneur. You will also meet a lot new people and build relationships with people around the world, which can be handy when starting a business, but it also helps you to strengthen your networking skills as you probably have been in situations where you had to interact with people you otherwise wouldn’t.

That is why travelling is one of Tiimiakatemia // Team Academies core values. Sometimes you just have to go far to see near and by travelling we will also learn more and faster. (see the whole global network map from here)

I am also so proud of our Team Academy Newcastle as this is the first year when all our team companies has or will do learning journeys to Amsterdam, Hungary (Budapest & Debrecen), Barcelona and Finland (Tampere & Jyväskylä). So excited to see what kind of learnings we will get from these trips!

So what do you think, can travelling help you to become a better entrepreneur?

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Tiimiakatemia, United Kingdom

Importance of having a clear vision!

In Team Academy Newcastle the November is now Movember, so the month of Personal Growth. We have encouraged everyone to update their learning contracts (read my earlier blog text about How to set effective goals) and really think what are their goals and visions for the future. To follow this theme I have also took some time to think about my goals and how they have affected my life.

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I really enjoy working as an entrepreneur, you never know what will happen in the future. But in other hand the vision and goals about your future might be a lot more clearer when you are an entrepreneur rather than if you would be working for someone else.

New challenges

I started working full time around three months ago and it did kind of “scare” me a little bit first, I would have strict working hours, a certain amount of holidays, I would live at least two years in Newcastle, UK. I know that most of the people would be super happy about those things and that’s what they are aiming for to have a balance in their life and certainty about the future. And to be honest I really love it too, learning about new country, organization, meeting new people and being able to work on something I am really passionate about. Even though I think in some point I might continue as a entrepreneur but who knows.

Powerful vision

I am quite clear about my vision and I want to become a master in team learning and team coaching. Also want to make it possible for everyone around the world to learn by doing, spiced up with team work and by running a real company. To be able to reach that goal I need a lot more experience and knowledge about Team Coaching and about how to establish Team Academies in new countries and Universities. That way I can also raise my credibility on eyes of higher education.

So where I am at the moment with my goal? I would say I am definitely on the right path as I am so happy with my role at Northumbria University at the moment as I am able to train my coaching skills and also learn what does it mean to put Team Academy methods into practise in new envoirement.

Next Steps

Few years ago I trained to become Team Coach in this Team Mastery training program, but to get the Tiimiakatemia® Team Coach certification I also need at least 1,5 years team coaching experience. So now I have got it I am able to apply for the certificate, so let’s cross the fingers I will get it as that would be great proof about my knowledge and experience as a  Team Coach.

Second big step for me is the Leadership and Management MSc course which I started few weeks ago, I am so excited to learn more about myself and develop my leadership skills. This journey will take around two and half years, but I could not be more excited about it. Our first module is about leader identity and leadership so really discovering who we are and how does that effect on me as a leader.

So at the moment there is a lot happening, but when you love what you do and you have a clear vision in your mind nothing can slow you down! But we also have remeber to enjoy the journey and not only reach into the destination!

 

Uncategorized

How do we really learn?

For ages people have been going to schools where teachers teach and “people learn”. World has changed a lot but the schools have not, how is that possible? Teachers use to have all the knowledge which they kindly shared to students who didn’t know that much, but nowadays we can just google and learn the same things from internet, so they are not really needed anymore or at least not for the same purpose. And even more interesting is that there is a lot of recearch about how do we actually learn and really little comes from listening the lectures.

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Learning Pyramid

I really love this video from Charles Jennings & Fuse about model called 70:20:10. It tells how 70% of the learning comes from experience and practise, 20% of the learning comes from networks and conversations we have with other people and only 10% of learning comes from learning formally. And from that 10% we forget 50% in one hour unless we put it into practice. Quite fascinating model I think.

But in real life there is the pressure from the education system “we have to make sure people learn”, so how can we manage that? And the answer is you can’t. It is important to realize that we can’t manage this process, we can facilitate it, support and help to make it happen, but everyone individually has to manage their own learning.

If we want to create learning organisations we have to stop pushing content at people and let the people have right recources to be able to pull the information when they really need it. That way the learning will be more effective, faster and efficient.

What if we would have schools where people could take responsibility of their own learning, coaches supporting them on their path and guiding them to set goals and make plans how to achieve them. Networks around them to help realize they don’t have to know everything, but they will learn how to find the right people and teams to work with. I really believe we can give everyone opportunity to learn this way, it might take some time, but that’s my goal and I will work hard to make that happen.