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The Fast-track to Success

A Case Study: The Benefits of an on-Island Postgraduate Education

Stephanie Hamel is Group Accountant at The Travel Corporation (TTC) and chose to study the Fast-track MSc Corporate Governance at the GTA University Centre following a change in career direction. She is currently awaiting her final results after having just submitted her research project for this master’s programme. In this article, she explains how the taught course, and her research project into the need for boards to adopt a modern slavery policy, have benefitted both her and her employer.

The Taught Masters Programme

“My role at TTC draws on both my accounting and legal expertise, as well as giving me exposure to corporate governance within a large global organisation. The Fast-track MSc Corporate Governance was a great opportunity for me to upskill for this new challenge, as it built on my previous qualifications and gave me GradICSA status.

The course fitted well around a busy day job. The majority of teaching was on Saturdays, with only a small number of Fridays over the nine months spent out of the office. The assignments were manageable alongside work and other commitments, and on the occasions when life – inevitably – got in the way, the team at the GTA did a fantastic job of providing support. This could be a listening ear and assistance with dealing with the admin right through to help requesting extensions to deadlines if urgent matters came up at work.

The teaching environment at the GTA was fantastic. The facilities available at St Peter Port House provided a perfect study environment. Highly qualified and experienced tutors from Bournemouth University came to Guernsey to deliver the programme, and their hands-on knowledge of running businesses added depth to the teaching. After previously experienced remote study, I found I much preferred the classroom environment with a cohort of people who had different experiences to offer the group, and with whom I shared a wonderful camaraderie.

The Research Project: The Need for Boards to Adopt a Modern Slavery Policy

The taught part of the course equipped me with valuable knowledge and skills which I was able to take back to the workplace but the real highlight of the course for me, was the breadth of possibility in the research project. This enabled me not only to research a subject in which I was really interested but to undertake a project which was relevant and beneficial to my employer. I selected the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 because I volunteer with a local abolitionist charity, and I have been shocked at the scale of the problem across the world. The UN’s International Labour Organisation estimated that on any day in 2016, 40 million people were victims of modern slavery. The issue has become particularly topical in the last few years:  the recent gruesome discovery of the bodies of 39 people in Grays Essex, who had been trafficked from Vietnam, is only the latest in a series of high profile modern slavery stories. The impacts of slavery and human trafficking also include deforestation and climate change, as enslaved people are often used for manual work such as illegal logging, farming and mining.

My research involved analysing a single travel company’s response to the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, then comparing them to similar companies in the sector to identify common and best practices.

Every large company should have a public modern slavery policy on the home page of their website which has been approved by the board of directors. In it they should describe what actions the company has taken to identify and eradicate slavery and human trafficking throughout their supply chains. As a responsible consumer, I would urge everyone to view the modern slavery policy of the companies that they regularly shop with, to assess how much effort they are putting into eradicating slavery and human trafficking. There are some companies doing some real in-depth work on this issue, such as Marks and Spencer and the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia. However, for many more it is a perfunctory exercise. If your favourite companies are not willing to shows pictures and locations of the factories which make their clothing around the world, as Patagonia does, or to share the findings or their internal audits and their action plan for the coming year, as Marks and Spencer do, challenge them on what they have to hide.

By researching one single company and its supply chains, I got a real feel for how difficult it is to see through all the layers in a global supply chain, especially where this includes outsourcing. Consider an overnight stay in a hotel. How were the raw materials to build the hotel sourced? What about the furniture and decoration: how and where were they made, and from what? How would you know if it was from wood illegally logged from a protected forest? How about the minerals used in manufacturing the bedside stereo, which was bought wholesale? And what about the lettuce that is in your burger: where and by whom was that picked, and are the staff paid a reasonable wage for the job they do? These are challenging questions for a procurement manager to get to the bottom of, but if each organisation along the supply chain does its bit because consumers are pushing them to, perhaps we can go some way to eradicating the continued existence of forced labour, slavery and human trafficking.

I relished the opportunity to study these issues in depth, and my studies have enabled me to propose how they might be addressed within my own organisation. As my role develops at TTC Travel Group, I look forward to using the knowledge and skills developed through my studies and over the course of the past few months to provide company secretarial expertise to the Board.

For more information on the MSc Corporate Governance please contact Kate Lenfestey on 721555 or visit the GTA website: www.gta.gg

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21st February, 2020

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