Sainsbury Management Fellows

David Falzani’s Annual Dinner 2019 Speech

The Sainsbury Management Fellowship was founded 32 years ago by Lord Sainsbury, who had the foresight to understand that having the right business skills was going to be essential for the future success of engineering and technology.

The fellowship promotes and demonstrates the value of a combined business and engineering education to improve the performance of the UK economy. It firstly does this by selecting the brightest young engineers and providing them with scholarships to the top 14 MBA schools in the world. It then provides an alumni support and development network, as well as a programme of outbound communications, to create a whole, greater than the sum of its parts.

The SMF is now a group of 356 Fellows who have received £8m in scholarships. In terms of results, it is estimated that over 40% currently hold executive board roles, and 34% have non-executive roles. Many SMFs are entrepreneurs and 63 fellows are repeat entrepreneurs, starting several businesses and 80% of Fellows support and mentor young engineers as well as other charitable activities.

This past year the amount of the individual scholarship was increased from £30,000 per award to £50,000. This increase is an expression of the achievements of the scheme to date, and of the commitment by Lord Sainsbury to help the scheme continue these successes into the future.

One of the core tenets of the SMF is that productivity growth is one of the strongest indicators for future national prosperity and quality of life. One of the most powerful ways we can increase productivity is by harnessing technology to create economic value. Who better to lead this than those with a deep understanding of technology and with appropriate business skills?

So, five years ago we asked the question: What else we could do to help the UK economy? Considerable research shows that introducing business education to young engineers and technologists makes them better engineers, makes them more employable, more effective in the workplace, and is better for the profession and the UK economy. Therefore, the challenge was this – how to find a scalable route to introduce business topics into a notoriously crowded undergraduate curriculum and a fragmented and complex university landscape?

To answer this, the SMF developed the Engineers in Business competition. Aimed at undergraduate engineers, we offer a prize fund specific to engineering participants in existing business competitions. In return, the university partner commits to promote the competition to their engineers and report on results. As well as cash prizes, the winners have access to an SMF mentor to offer ongoing guidance and support.

It is going well! This year we increased the number of competitions we sponsored from 4 to 23 universities. The competitions had over 3,300 participants, and a combined undergraduate audience of 116,000 students received our core messages on the value of business education. On average, we see about a 25% uplift in engineering participation due to the promotion by our university partner and the engineer specific prize.

We now have additional funding from the Gatsby Foundation to expand our business competitions to new universities and colleges over the next couple of years, and this represents a new and exciting opportunity for the organisation.

I would like to congratulate all universities which held successful competitions thus far.

I would also like to thank the Commercial Education Trust – which sponsored my visiting professorship at Nottingham University – for its considerable help and guidance in developing our competition model.

To continue the work of the Fellowship supporting and developing the brightest young engineers to be future UK industry leaders, SMF aims to become self-funding. Our initial target is to raise £10m and we now have £2.3 million in cash and pledges including gift aid and the most generous 100% matching of funds from Lord Sainsbury.

I would like to thank all the Fellows who have contributed to reaching this impressive total. Thank you also to the efforts of our fundraising team, led by Chairman Mike Astell. It is an excellent opportunity for Fellows to give back to the scheme from which we have benefited so much. And that’s where we need your help. If you feel that you have benefited from your MBA scholarship and done well in business, could you create that same opportunity for another promising engineer? Or two, or several as one of our donors has done?”

Also, if any of our guests here tonight, would like to help us fund business education for the brightest young talent, whether through an individual gift, company donation or charitable grant, please see me or any other members of the fundraising team.

We have a 100% match from Lord Sainsbury for all donations for one more year, so I would encourage anyone who wishes to get involved, to get in touch as soon as possible.

In closing, I would like to say a word of thanks to all the people who made this year’s achievements happen – Our Treasurer Adam Bazire and our other Trustees: Imoni Akpofure, Mike Astell, Simon Bonini, Paul Dolan, Henning von Spreckelsen, Nigel Thomas and David Weston.

I would also like to express our appreciation to Fellows who have supported ELS selection panel and other events and activities: Mike Astell, Bola Bamidele, Adam Bazire, Simon Bolton, Simon Bonini, John Callaghan, Sam Cockerill, Taha Dar,
Martin Dickinson, Amy Dullage, Julian Fagandini, George Fowkes, Evi Giamouzi, Michael Hill, Will Jones, Richard Kluth, Alastair Light, Adam Locke, David MacGeehan, James McMicking,Bishrut Mukherjee, Ed Snow, Hersh Shah, Chris Shelley,
James Diaz-Sokoloff, Richard Smith, Henning von Spreckelsen, Gordon Wylie and all other Fellows who have written articles, or spoken to the media on our behalf.

This year we actually doubled the number of networking events
that we hold – a special thanks to Charlie Sudborough and Richard Wazacz for sponsoring and hosting SMF events this year.

My thanks also go to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and our friends from the Royal Academy of Engineering and other institutions, for their continued support and encouragement. Finally, I would like to thank our Patron, Lord Sainsbury, without whose vision and ongoing support, none of this would have been possible.

I am now delighted to introduce Lord Sainsbury, who has graciously agreed to say a few words before dinner is served.

David Falzani’s Annual Dinner 2019 Speech


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The Sainsbury Management Fellows is registered as a charity: Engineers in Business Fellowship, charity number 1147203 and is a company limited by guarantee : 07807250