Marketing and Management Students Make a Social Impact with Barking Foodbank

Marketing and Management Students Make a Social Impact with Barking Foodbank

Dr Evangelos Markopoulos, is a Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the School of Business and Management (SBM).  He is the module organizer for the Marketing and Management module BUS347 – Marketing Group Project which has resulted in innovative work with Barking Foodbank.  Evangelos gives an account of this work below.

One on the most innovative modules offered at Queen Mary and SBM is the BUS347 – Marketing Group Project.  It runs under the BSc in Marketing and Management Programme, It is the jewel in the crown of the Marketing programme, the most important practical module in collaboration with an external organisation’s senior managers.

I am honoured to be the module organizer of the module with the liberty to contribute on its design and delivery in such a way that our students will combine first class academic education and professional experience by working with a real industry client.

Last term the client was the Barking Foodbank, a social non-profit organization, part of the Trussell Group.  The challenge was to re-invent the marketing model of the organization in order to increase food donations and feed more people in East London, but the fact that the organization had limited infrastructure and resources the challenge became very difficult.   The goal for the students was to deliver a marketing strategy that could actually be adapted by the client and not a report that could give them a good mark.    During the lectures the students were introduced to the consultancy industry, challenges and opportunities, taught professional writing, communication, and presentation skills, research methods and techniques, critical analysis and evaluation of ideas, proposals and suggestions, teaming, scheduling, and strategic thinking and planning.  At the seminars the students were presenting their progress, and received feedback, suggestions and criticism in an environment that simulated the client ant its expectations.

During the term we had progress review meetings with the Foodbank at their premises and at Queen Mary.   These meetings held under real professional conditions offering to the students a unique experience to understand and apply business what they learned in class.  My goal was to integrate in the module and transfer to my students my 20+ years of consulting experience in international project in any industries and all over the world.  I treated the students as young upcoming professionals being rigorous and focused on the delivery requirements and deadlines but honest and caring on transferring my know-how or technical, management and communications level.

The students enjoyed every session and took the liberty to extend their work offering an operations strategy to support the marketing strategy.  This way the client will receive the strategy to market its activities in order to attract more food sponsors and donors but also to optimize its operations process in order to distribute this food more efficiently and effectively.

The result was magnificent, and the client decided to adopt the solution the students provided and also communicated it to the CEO of the Trussell Trust which manages 500 foodbanks in the United Kingdom.    On 15 March 2019 the students are invited to present their work to the CEO hoping to get it adopted by Foodbanks across the country.

Today the Barking Foodbank serves 2,000 people in East London.  Taking this as an average, then 1 million people are fed by the Trussell Trust.   The work delivered by the students triples the food collected and served.   If the strategy is executed effectively in all foodbanks in UK, then more than 3 million people will be fed, meaning that 2 million people in the UK will be fed with the help of the work provided by Queen Mary students.

This amazing experience demonstrates the student’s ability to work on significant consulting projects, provides a professional experience track record, enriches their curriculum vitae, offers them a memorable education experience at Queen Mary, and makes their employment efforts easier.  I will be teaching this module next term as well with confidence to our students for more such achievements.