New Chamber of Commerce Leader Heaps Praise on University

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The new leader of Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce has praised the University of Worcester’s impact on the region as well as her own personal career.

Sharon Smith, herself a Worcester graduate, took over as Chief Executive of the Chamber last month.

She said that her time at the City’s university had been key to giving her vital skills in areas of business less familiar to her.

Mrs Smith, who graduated with an MBA (Master of Business Administration) in 2009, after first taking a Leadership and Management degree, was speaking after a tour of some of the most recent additions to the University, including the City Campus, The Hive and the University of Worcester Arena.

“My studies at the University have definitely been beneficial in terms of getting me to where I am now because when I started the Certificate in Leadership and Management course, my history had been generally in finance,” she said.

“I moved to a job with the Chamber of Commerce 10 years ago but I was looking after Corporate Services, which extended beyond my professional qualification in finance to looking after things like Human Resources and IT.

“The whole point of the degree is leading and managing people. They might do different jobs but it’s about using those skills across different disciplines in an organisation.

“Learning things from an academic perspective is quite different to business but having the skills from both sides is, I think, really beneficial."

She added that the University was a key contributor to the county’s economy, developing buildings in Worcester and creating a skilled workforce, bringing through fresh skills and ideas.

The University and the Chamber have worked closely on projects in the past and Mrs Smith said she hoped to further strengthen that relationship in future.

“The University has already provided us with some great buildings that have brought more opportunities to the city, such as the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships at the Arena in 2015.

"It’s opening Worcestershire up to the rest of the world as a place to come and study, visit or stay, which is good for the county.

“We are also benefitting from the skills, ideas and new ways of working that the younger generation of students are bringing to the city. As a Chamber of Commerce, we are interested in this from a broader perspective of how young people want to work and connect together for the future and how their talents and ideas can benefit local businesses.

"With the specific skills the University offers - law, nursing, sports as well as the general skills and specific professional skills in different areas – I think it is a real asset for Worcestershire.

“Graduates are contributing to the local economy. Whether that’s by setting up and running their own business or working really successfully in a larger business, either route is equally beneficial for the county."