University of South Wales (USW) students have been given the opportunity to help a Caerphilly company expand into new markets in Africa.
Six students, who are studying for a degree in marketing at USW, pitched their ideas to Christine Wilde, Managing Director of Catnic, A Tata Steel Enterprise, and the company’s Marketing Manager, Charmaine Petty, who is also a USW marketing graduate.
Catnic specialises in producing steel construction products for the residential sector.
As part of their international strategic marketing module, the students were asked to help Catnic’s research into the opportunities available in the north of Africa by developing case studies on the possibilities for international expansion.
They were asked to help Catnic get a better understanding of the economic situation, the dynamics of the markets, cultural influences, and how the company could supply its products in the region.
After completing the research, the group put together individual case studies, and then presented their findings to the company officials during a special event at the USW-based South Wales Business School.
USW marketing lecturer Dr Nihar Amoncar organised the partnership, along with Martyn Rowling, Head of USW’s Business clinic.
“This is a great chance for the students to get some hands-on experience of working on a real-life brief,” he said.
“One of the intentions of the partnership with Catnic was to give marketing students a detailed understanding of the construction industry, so the sector can attract talented graduates.
“For USW, this is a part of our innovative industry-driven assessment strategy to better prepare the students for employment and give them a taste of the real world through a client-consultant scenario.”
“This approach is proving effective in reducing plagiarism and also developing employability skills such as investigative skills, consultancy skills, problem solving skills and the students’ overall ability to think on their feet and add value to local businesses.”
Miss Petty said there were a number of benefits for the business.
“As we work in a number of different markets, we were looking for the opportunity to consult with an outside agency about how we could explore the north African markets,” she said.
“What’s happened with USW has been very successful. We’ve gained a wide variety of opinions based on research conducted by the students. It’s been very helpful, and provided us with some insights that we hadn’t seen before.
“It’s something we’d definitely consider again, and I will be recommending the process to other departments within the business – HR, supply chain, procurement – as I definitely think it’s worth consulting with the students.
“Getting that fresh eye and bringing new insight into the business has been very valuable.”