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12/02/2007

Exploring e-Business with the Executive MBAs

Professor Feng Li has just delivered his module on 'Exploring e-Business' to the Executive MBAs at Newcastle University Business School this year. Like previous years two expert speakers were invited to contribute to the course and this year was no exception; and the student feedbacks have been very positive.

Bernie Callaghan, CEO of Leighton Group, delivered an exceptionally informative and entertaining talk on his personal experience during the dot.com boom and bust, and his insights on where things are going. He also answered a wide range of questions from the students. Leighton group was the original owner of Domainnames.com, which was later sold to Verisign for a huge sum of money - and is one of a few dot.com survivors that successfully diversified into a number of related areas. And it is based in the North East of England! As one of a few people who have actually 'been there and done it', Bernie is able to talk about many of the practical issues of e-Business and dot.com frankly and with authority. Bernie first contributed to this course three years ago when the market was only slowly recovering from the dot.com bust. This time he not only reflected on his experience during the good and bad times but also his insights on where things are going and what to watch out for. Friends of the Business School will have heard about Bernie's brother, Paul Callaghan, who was appointed David Goldman Visiting Professor of Business Innovation for 2006-2007, and Paul delivered his successful Goldman lecture in November 2006.

The other contributor was Paul Hopkins, Director of ISS of Newcastle University. As the CIO of a ?300 million organisation with over 20,000 very demanding users (yes Newcastle University is actually that big!), Paul led the technical development and implementation of SAP at Newcastle University. Newcastle is the first University in Europe to undertake a full implementation of SAP and has been a developmental partner of SAP jointly owning some of the IPs for SAP modules in higher education. Paul shared his experience and insights frankly and openly with the students, and explored a wide range of issues. The talk was originally sheduled for two hours but the students managed to keep him there for four and half hours until 6:30pm (with only a 15 min break in between!) with questions and discussions! In particular, Paul highlighted a range of practical issues in the development and implementation of the E2R project (enquiry to registration) - winner of the software of the year for public sectors in the UK in 2006; discussed his views on shared services in UK higher education and the opportunities and challenges involved; and explored a range of emerging technologies and applications that are likely to have a profound impact in the next few years.

A sincere thanks to Bernie and Paul for their excellent contributions!