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Lancaster University awards three local organisations new Community Scholarship

Sue McGraw and Ben Wainwright (centre) with Programme Director, Chris Saunders

Three lucky students have been selected by Lancaster University Management School as the first recipients of the new Executive MBA Community Scholarship, aimed especially at not-for-profit organisations serving the Lancaster area.

Designed to provide leaders in the local community with access to the cutting-edge knowledge and skills provided through the Executive MBA programme, the Community Scholarship was introduced this year and awarded to the most worthy candidates who would translate their new skills from the qualification into benefits for the wider community.

Jane Binnion, Ethical Business Trainer and Founder of The Growing Club CiC a coaching club for women who want to grow their business; Ben Wainwright, who works in IT Strategy for Lancaster City Council and Sue McGraw, CEO at St Johns Hospice, will make up the first ever Scholarship cohort after impressing the programme team. They have each been awarded a scholarship worth 75% of the programme fees.

Jane Binnion, whose organisation supports women in business across Lancaster and the North West, said: “I can’t believe how lucky I am to get this opportunity. Running a local social enterprise I would never have been able to afford to do the EMBA.

“The cohort is full of amazing people and I know that this is exactly what I need to ensure The Growing Club is solid and sustainable. I think this initiative of supporting local not-for-profit organisations in this way is fantastic.”

Ben Wainwright says that without the Community Scholarship, the EMBA wouldn’t have been an option for him, as the Council’s training budget would not have covered the course fees and he couldn’t afford to fund the programme himself. Since being promoted, Ben, who comes from an ICT background, has been keen to build on his managerial and leadership skills.

“The EMBA was an ideal next step,” he said, adding that he feels an increased understanding of strategy will benefit him in his role.  “The ICT department has historically done a lot of firefighting. We’ve acted as support for other services. ICT will have a more strategic role in future. I would like to bring that forward and help the department drive change.”

Sue McGraw explained that she had been keen to work with Lancaster University for some time and thinks it is important to capitalise on the expertise available locally.  She said: “For an organisation like us, winning the scholarship has given us the opportunity to work on some practical projects with the support of the prestigious local Management School.”

In order to win the scholarship, the three had to write an essay outlining how they would use their learnings from the programme to benefit their organisation and the local community.

Chris Saunders, EMBA Programme Director at Lancaster University Management School said: “The EMBA Community Scholarship has been a great way for us to build really strong links with our local community in Lancaster and help ensure that the wealth of skills, knowledge and experience within our Management School can benefit local people.

“A unique partnership like this between the University and local organisations can deliver real benefits. I know that Sue, Ben and Jane will put everything they gain from the programme to good use that will, in turn, be felt across Lancaster.”