German at Aston Graduate Competes on “The Apprentice”

At Aston, it makes us very proud  to know that our students are more employable than Oxbridge graduates. This is particularly true of students who complete the International Business and Modern Languages (IBML) degree, a programme which fully integrates business studies and language learning. (In fact, some of our alumni are so successful in securing highly paid first jobs that they soon outearn the lecturers who taught them – but let’s not dwell on that.)

Aston degrees have a strong focus on preparing students for their future careers, and entrepreneurship is one of the skills we foster in our students. IBML students are asked to develop a business plan as one of their final year assignments. Over the years we have thus seen many extremely creative and highly innovative designs for new businesses – and it’s always great to see these ideas put into practice!

It goes without saying, that we were very pleased when one of our alumni set up business on campus. After graduating with a well-deserved first class degree, Nick Holzherr opened a fair-trade coffee shop a mere 50 yards from the lecture theatres where he had spent the last 3 years. Offering ethical coffee at a very reasonable price, he was soon giving the competition a run for their money.

But Nick was already branching out into other areas, and he soon founded his second business, a company specialising in scannable business cards, using smart phone technology.

And now it seems, he’s done it again – but this time he is asking for support from the BBC show “The Apprentice” . Nick is already the third Aston graduate to compete on the popular programme – and we certainly wish him much success!

You can follow Nick’s story on the programme as he tries to impress and sell his latest business idea to potential business partner Lord Sugar, starting Wednesday, 21 March 2012, at 9pm on BBC 1. While we wait to find out what he has up his sleeve this time, here is his audition video:

Aston PhD graduate interviewed by “Die Zeit”

Yvonne Henze and supervisor

Yvonne A. Henze, a former colleague, who taught at Aston from 2002 to 2007, has now completed her ph.d and graduated as Dr phil in March (supervised by Dr. Claudia Gremler).

Yvonne’s thesis focused on the deployment of overseas employees in German multinational companies and on the cultural challenges they face when coming to work in the German headquarters. Yvonne’s research specifically looked at the implications of intercultural training measures for these employees, asking questions such as “How are these people prepared for their stay in Germany and at the headquarters? What are the problems they encounter and how can intercultural training alleviate them?”  Her thesis revealed a complex interplay of national and corporate culture that develops when people arrive from an overseas subsidiary – and sometimes have to realise that working for a company they think they knew well can lead to unexpected challenges.

Yvonne now works at the University of Göttingen where she conducts intercultural competence trainings for students and staff and teaches postgraduate courses on intercultural communication. She was recently interviewed by major German weekly “Die Zeit” in an article on the experience of culture shock.