Students work with Santander to improve digital banking

Sheffield Hallam University students have been working with organisations in South Yorkshire including Santander to help them tackle complex business challenges and improve key services.

The students, studying business and financial management at the University’s Sheffield Business School, have undertaken the project as part of a final year module focused on career management and decision making. Presented with a brief, they were required to research and solve a specific issue raised by the business or organisation and then present their findings.

Students worked in teams to provide recommendations on areas including raising funds, calculating the social return on investment, and improving technology services and support for specific customer groups.

This year students worked with the British banking group Santander to improve digital banking for customers, specifically targeting customer groups such as students and over 60s.

Speaking about the project, Oliver Higgins, branch manager at Santander, said: “It’s been fabulous working with the students. The enthusiasm, engagement levels, and diversity of the students’ approach to work was wonderful. What overwhelmed me the most was the way the students delivered their presentations – I’m still gobsmacked.

“They had four weeks to work on it and the depth of information they included – the reasoning, the logic and the solutions – was really impressive. To work with people like that is a great feeling.”

The students also worked on projects with Doncaster EPIC (Encouraging Potential Inspiring Change) to evaluate the social return on investment into youth-crime prevention strategies and The Wellness Foundation, a social enterprise initiative delivering mental health support in South Yorkshire schools.

Leone Starr, owner at The Wellness Foundation, said: “It’s been a brilliant project and really insightful. They’ve just gone all out. Their research, planning and how they delivered have been amazing!

“It’s such a brilliant scheme. To stand up and present to industry professionals and give them insightful recommendations is fantastic.”

The project is in its second year and utilises partnerships made by the University’s Venture Matrix team, which works alongside private and public organisations from the local, national and international community to provide students with opportunities to work on real-world activities.

Student Patryk Lawniczak spoke about working on a live brief: “The fact that it was a real-world project meant that we took it all very seriously. The manager gave us a kick-start, talked it all through with us and we knew we needed to knuckle down and get it done.”

Rebekah Quinn, a student who worked on the project with Doncaster EPIC spoke about how the experience will guide her in the future: “For any future job roles that we might go into, we’ll be able to use this experience and our research and analytical skills to tackle any issues that might come up within that role and that company.”

Rebecca Peake, principal lecturer in the Sheffield Business School and module leader for the decision making and career management module, said: “This approach enables students to develop their ability to problem solve, apply theories learned and develop their professional communication skills. Rather than giving the students hypothetical case studies, working with clients really motivates them and they produced some excellent recommendations.”

Oliver Higgins, branch manager at Santander added: “This is the second year we’ve worked on this project with Sheffield Hallam students. Last year’s cohort did some great work and these guys have raised the bar again – we’re really looking forward to 2019!”

Sheffield Hallam is a driver of economic growth, through raising productivity, narrowing the skills gap, partnering business, supporting innovation and enterprise whilst attracting investment.

Home to the UK’s largest modern business school and working with around 2,000 large and small employers every year, its students, industrial partnerships and research help businesses innovate and succeed.

Reflecting the vocational nature of the University, Sheffield Hallam students undertake over 25,000 placements with employers every year and its talented graduates are a key resource with the necessary skills to help industry grow.

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