PROFESSOR of Marketing at the University of Ulster, Mark Durkin has always strived to better the lives and prospects of the graduates under his guidance.
And spurred on by the words of Northern Ireland Secretary of State, the Right Honourable Theresa Villiers MP, in a recent statement to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement, Mark believes his organisation is making strides to strengthen further the economic situation in the Province.
As Theresa said, ‘our economic package will be closely linked to, and conditional on real progress by the executive on building stronger community relations and a more cohesive society.’
To this end, Naked Leader in general and Founder David Taylor in particular are playing their part, while bearing fruit for the company’s future beyond David.
David was appointed Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University in January and is helping Mark with the Business School team’s Agenda for leadership in the area of Entrepreneurship. It involves the University engaging with opportunity-focused change agents from industry and leveraging this positivity into aspects of lecturing, research, and academic enterprise.
The tie-up demonstrates the importance of bringing together academia and business and is exactly what the Government is advocating – both men taking the lead in helping to influence the next generation of young entrepreneurs. People in management really can make a difference and the proof is in the partnership.
‘On the Teaching side David has already added value, starting to shape the agenda on the subject of “what is entrepreneurial leadership?”’ confirms Mark. ‘His thinking has aligned with our opportunity-focused curriculum and he is involved in giving graduate students a vision for the future and more important – an ability to see how that vision can be realised at the level of the individual themselves.
‘On the Research side we have various initiatives in place, in terms of publications, furthering knowledge in other areas and there are plans to write a book on the subject of entrepreneurial leadership.’
As for Academic Enterprise, David has already introduced Tullow Oil PLC, one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in Europe, as well as Africa’s leading independent oil company (Ghana, Uganda, Kenya), to Mark and his colleagues. Tullow Oil was recently voted the most innovative company in Management Today.
One of the company’s ideals is to Maintain Our Entrepreneurial Character and steps are in place for a representative of the company to visit the University for a ‘Live Study’, along with David – already fulfilling his role of ‘roving ambassador’- to help present it to the graduates.
‘It’s a really good partnership between Naked Leader and the Ulster Business School,’ says Mark. ‘David’s role as a global ambassador means he is able to open doors for us which we may not otherwise have been able to do because of our geography.’
As Mark has come from a financial services marketing background, before joining the University, his students are receiving theory backed up by practical experience and know-how.
In the words of Theresa Villiers. ‘As I go around Northern Ireland talking to a wide range of people, I see many great examples of initiatives that bring different parts of the community together. Yet at too many levels Northern Ireland remains deeply divided. The work of the peace process is still unfinished.’
The Ulster Business School and David Taylor are already engaged in their own initiative to help that process – and it has only just started.