Futures' business competitions

Business competitions

Business competitions are a mutually beneficial way for students and organisations to work together.  The competitive element adds excitement to the learning experience and the results have a positive, tangible impact on the business. 

Furthering the University’s enterprise mission:

  • students gain invaluable business and employability skills such as: commercial awareness, networking, project management, presentation, ideas generation, and professional communication
  • participating businesses gain a wealth of information and ideas from numerous, talented, trainee consultants to help them achieve their business objectives.

 How does it work?

  • Futures and the participating business agree on a real business challenge that will benefit the business.  
  • Futures creates the marketing materials and promotes the competition to Plymouth Business School students.
  • Students apply to participate and Futures short-lists the applications.
  • An event is held by the client at the beginning of the competition to provide the entrants with the necessary information.
  • A member of staff from the business is available throughout the competition duration to answer additional questions via phone, email or face-to-face.  
  • Students submit their results, in the agreed format, by a certain date.
  • A panel, consisting of members of staff from the business and Futures, assess the students’ work.
  • The best entrants are asked to give a presentation to the panel.
  • A prize giving event is held by the client at the end of the competition.
  • All entrants receive a certificate of participation.
  • The client provides the finalists with prizes, LinkedIn recommendations and references on request.
  • The competition is featured on the University webpage and a press release created.

Michael Spiers business competitions

Students from Plymouth University were given two great opportunities to hone their skills whilst working with one of the South West’s most highly regarded companies. Michael Spiers Jewellers is the region’s destination retailer for exclusive jewellery and watches. It is a family owned business which was founded more than 60 years ago, has locations across the South West, with showrooms in Plymouth, Truro, Exeter and Taunton, and is recognised as an award winning organisation.

Michael Spiers held two business competitions and the challenges set were:

  • Year one: research and creation of a marketing strategy focussing on the 'under 30 years old' target market.
  • Year two: analysis of competitors’ use of e-commerce and digital marketing, and the creation of a related marketing strategy.

Michael Spiers Jewellers' Managing Director, Keith White, said:

"My fellow directors and team were very impressed with the results and have implemented many of the recommendations.

Having the opportunity to work with the talented team of students and staff at Plymouth University highlights another area of excellence for the city. The entrants represent our future customers and we take their opinions very seriously.

The second business competition highlighted the need for us to have a dedicated member of staff focusing on our social media. As a result, we have employed a student from Plymouth Business School: Harry Murphy, who is studying BSc (Hons) Marketing. He will be with us for his placement year before returning to his final year of studies in 2017.”

Placement student, Harry Murphy, said: 

"I feel very privileged to be working for Michael Spiers Jewellers. I am looking forward to making a difference and proving my worth. I will achieve this by utilising my knowledge and skills learnt from my BSc (Hons) Marketing studies at Plymouth University. 

This placement will provide me with invaluable work experience which will help my future employability. I aim to learn as much as possible about the niche markets of watches and fine jewellery, how a successful business functions and to acquire a broad range of marketing specific and other transferable skills. I will be able to demonstrate that I’ve implemented a marketing strategy whilst considering the external and internal factors that may affect it. I will also benefit from numerous networking opportunities which may lead to other exciting job opportunities in the future."

Previous participants

Previous participants in the competition have also used the experience to get a step-up in their careers, with the first year's joint winner, Emma Williams, securing a placement year with cosmetics giant L’Oreal. 

Joint winner, Emma Williams, said:

"Taking part in the Michael Spiers Business Competition was an invaluable opportunity for me to develop skills that would later help me secure my industrial placement at L'Oreal."

"I developed project management, teamwork and communication skills, and gained great, marketing-specific examples to talk about in competency interviews. Working with the team and seeing them take a genuine interest in our work really built up my confidence in professional environments. I also received a recommendation on LinkedIn which I've referred to numerous times. The project was unique and a great way to gain hands on experience whilst studying marketing. This will really benefit me in future job applications as I'll be able to show fully rounded, marketing knowledge and an understanding of how to shape a new strategy whilst considering the market context the business operates in."

Students’ experiences of business competitions

Hear what students had to say about taking part in a Futures business competition run in partnership with Michael Spiers.

Would you like to host a competition? 

What business challenge would you set for the students?

For more information and to discuss your ideas, email: inspiringfutures@plymouth.ac.uk