Inside Admiral

Manchester Business School meets Admiral: The perfect partnership for business projects

As part of their MBA course, students of Manchester Business School (MBS) learn by applying theory in practical business situations with renowned organisations, concluding in an international research project. MBS and Admiral have built up a close partnership, with a number of MBA students getting involved in a range of projects within the Group.

Dr Phil Galvin, Associate Director of MBA Consultancy commented:

Manchester Business School likes to work with companies that are innovative and at the top of their game – Admiral fits that bill. It has an open culture, is open to new ideas and offers plenty of support to students and each other.

The research projects give students the chance to work on a real business problem or issue, applying the skills they’ve acquired in their MBA to add value to the business whilst gaining great exposure along the way. In the first instance, organisations sit down with Manchester Business School to discuss the project structure and criteria and then decide on a real business challenge that needs analysing/researching.

Dr Phil continued:

In terms of what sort of project MBS is looking to get its students involved in, we want ones that will actually address a burning issue within the business. We don’t want a partner who will just offer a project for the sake of it, or just to recruit people at the end. The outcome should actually help the business.”

Students organise themselves into teams of five, with a defined role for each member based on an understanding of their key strengths and personalities. Teams can then ‘bid’ for a set number of project briefs. The process replicates a ‘live’ business bidding scenario and the employer can hear up to three bids before they choose a group to work on their project. This choice can be made at any stage of the pitch process, which makes it a very competitive arena. If an employer really likes a pitch, they can make an offer straight away to avoid the risk of another company choosing them. This year, 22 groups bid for projects.

Professor Elaine Ferneley, MBA Director at Manchester Business School reflected:

First and foremost, we want students to get exposure to a business problem that can be addressed in a data-led fashion. We also want them to begin to understand the complexities of working within a group, and with a client.”

Having partnered with Manchester Business School for two years, Admiral has offered two International Business projects and a UK consultancy project. During the tense bidding environment, Admiral has both walked away from and missed out on bidding teams before. It has, however, made two hires from projects, both of which are now working as business leaders across the Group.

Admiral’s Executive Recruitment Manager, Wendy Sleat, believes that the company has a good partnership with the Manchester Business School MBA programme as they are both internationally focused and there are mutual benefits for all parties involved.

MBS students gain experience of working in a live business environment and as consultants on a project. It’s a chance for them to showcase their skills and experience as potential future employees.

“For Admiral, it’s a great way of seeing potential candidates in a real life work environment. It’s also a great opportunity to see how they fit with our business management team and company culture. The other bonus is we get a relevant piece of work carried out by well-educated academics and a comprehensive executive report which we can utilise for the future expansion of our global business.”

Kevin Fuller, who worked on an International Research Project with Admiral last year, reflects on his experience:

 “I was particularly drawn to the Admiral project because it offered a huge amount of international exposure. The brief we were given was to research the international insurance market to help Admiral decide which countries would be best suited for expansion over the next five to ten years. We spent a week at Admiral HQ in Cardiff, learning the ins-and-outs of the business and its operations. This provided a blueprint to measure success against. After researching and short listing, we met with consultants, brokers and other specialists in each country to find out key details about their insurance market. This gave us a good oversight to base further research on.

We were given a lot of freedom as to the way we managed the project, right from the start. From the countries we chose to visit, to the people that we liaised with. Having never worked for an insurance company before, it was a completely new area to me but I always felt that I could pick up the phone and speak to the helpful people in HQ if I needed to. The culmination of the project was a presentation to the company’s senior leadership team and the managers of Admiral’s international businesses. While it was a very new experience to me, it was one which I thoroughly enjoyed and would strongly recommend. The experience of travelling and researching ‘on the ground’ in target countries was absolutely invaluable.

Admiral will be visiting the Manchester Business School campus as a guest speaker in January and looking to get involved in future projects.