Change Maker Project

HARSAV Group have long-standing relationships with many Universities across the North East. From these strong relationships came our participation in the Change Maker Project, an innovative and bespoke project for the students at Sunderland University. The project involves chosen students to partake in a series of virtual placements with local businesses.

As one of the businesses involved, HARSAV Group assigned the chosen student particular projects. This blog is going to delve into the first project we assigned, our team’s experience working on the project and the student’s experience developing the project.

Project topic: Focusing on SME recruitment during lockdown and in collaboration with the Kickstart Scheme, with considerations on how to incorporate inclusivity and diversity.

The unfortunate circumstances of lockdown hindered many things for many businesses. However, we were reluctant to halt our recruitment period due to our hopes to expand the team. A significant amount of time was spent discussing how we could continue recruiting safely through lockdown in a safe and efficient way.

This conversation was persisting and incorporated the company’s collaboration with the Kickstart Scheme; a government scheme to reduce unemployment rates in young people aged 16 – 24 years old, which had considerably increased due to lockdown thus introducing our goal to ensure inclusivity and diversity, despite the short age range the scheme is based on.

The team saw the Change Maker Project as a fantastic opportunity to gain a new and fresh perspective on the concerns they had. The student who took on this project, Giorgos, took half a day for 6 weeks to work on this project to reach a suggestive conclusion that HARSAV group could implement for their recruitment concerns, Victoria, our HR Coordinator, Giorgos and I worked closely together to achieve the most effective conclusion.

Testimonials from the Change Maker Project team

Sarah and Victoria gave me an exciting challenge, which I'm thinking to research for my dissertation over the summer.This project was an interesting one, but at the same time, it was challenging because it was the first time I had to work on a real-life business issue outside the safe environment of a classroom. Sarah and Victoria were very supportive and they promptly answered any questions I had. We had regular meetings to discuss my progress, and they seemed satisfied with the work I was doing during those six weeks.

Taking about my experience working with HARSAV Group, I would say that I would do it over and over again, as I enjoyed it so much! I'm an MBA student, which means I study for a practical degree. There are many differences between teaching and business environments. What I mean is that applying the learning outcomes to assessments and solving a real-life business problem is totally different, as it requires a different approach and application. I feel that everything I got from the virtual placement was a helpful experience and invaluable knowledge of what the HR specialist role entails in real life and how one should address the business problems that come in the way.

Last but not least, I used my experience working with HARSAV Group for a Practice Manager job interview in a family-run optician in Hexham. I used examples of my research and how Sarah and Victoria and I worked together, I believe what we did for the Project Change Maker helped me get the job! I was asked very similar questions to what they asked me during the presentation of my findings and having this recent experience made me feel more confident and comfortable expressing myself.

I would like to thank HARSAV Group also especially Sarah and Victoria for those brilliant 6 weeks that got me a new job in the field I'm studying way before I graduate! I should not forget to thank Dr. Derek Watson and Laura Hope from Sunderland Futures! If it wasn't for them, none of the above would happen!

- Giorgos Chnarakis, MBA Student and Sunderland University

The Change Maker Project offered an exceptional opportunity for HARSAV Group to work with some of the quality talent being produced from Sunderland University.

It was a pleasure to collaborate with Giorgos to tackle current industry issues, such as achieving diversity throughout busy recruitment periods. Giorgos highlighted the critical changes required throughout recruitment due to the effects of COVID-19. He provided insight into the lengths companies should take to ensure inclusive methods are used throughout the hiring process.

These student's professionalism throughout the project is a testament to their commitment to their studies and supporting local businesses in striving for business excellence.

- Victoria Murphy, HR Coordinator at HARSAV Group

Working with the HARSAV Group has been an exceptional experience for our MBA students. In which they were able to bridge the gap between their academic studies and the commercial realities in today's fast changing business environment. I must also compliment Sarah and her team in mentoring the students as they navigated through their virtual placements to deliver tangible 'Change Maker impact'. Having brokered the initial relationship, we very much look forward to working on additional funded projects with the HARSAV Group.

- Dr Derek Watson, Associate Professor, Faculty of Business Law & Tourism at Sunderland University

Overall, it has been a pleasure working alongside Giorgos, Victoria and the rest of the team working on the Change Maker Project over the last few weeks. Giorgos conclusive suggestions included implementations that we could consider throughout our recruitment process for the Kickstart Scheme and even beyond, including innovative methods to remain inclusive and diverse.

Keep updated with our next blog regarding working on the Change Maker Project focused on Finance and HR management.

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