This is written by a recent graduate of the SoM:
“I’m not a big fan of Professor Nigel Piercy, he’s made the last 18 months very difficult for me indeed. I could tell you what I think of his character but that would only detract from what I really want to get across. Instead of taking the same approach as he did, I’m just going to share the experience of what graduate life is like, post Piercy.
“I’m a recent graduate of the Swansea University School of Management and like most people; I didn’t have a particularly enjoyable time. Having previously completed a degree from the College of Engineering the difference in teaching, support and general professionalism between the two schools was startling.
“I did a pretty specific master’s degree; operations and supply chain management. It’s one that I thought would complement my bachelors of engineering perfectly as many graduate jobs in engineering companies are in fact operations management positions.
“The course wasn’t particularly that tough and the taught modules were easy enough to study for independently. What hit me the hardest and brought down my mark considerably was the dissertation. We were scheduled four half hour sessions to see our tutor, with strict restrictions on what we could talk about. Trying to put a 12,500 word dissertation together with two hours of support meant I had missed key facts, discussion topics and my finished work was only barely at master’s level.
“Needless to say that after the months of stress, I was ecstatic when I finally graduated; I had a BEng, a MSc and all the skills employers could be looking for. Almost as good was knowing I was out of the SOM bubble. I thought I would never have to think about all the School’s problems or the toxic atmosphere ever again. I really wasn’t prepared for the School’s inadequacies to still be affecting me six months down the line.
“I’ve been on the job hunt since leaving in December and while I’m hopeful that I’ll find quality employment soon, it’s immensely disheartening how often employers bring up the School’s reputation during interviews. It seems businesses and universities do as much background checking and interview preparation as the candidates.
“Last Monday, I went to a competencies interview with a massive multinational company for an operations management position that would have allowed me to train on the job and eventually work all over Europe.
“In the invitation to interview, they told me to prepare examples of situations where I have demonstrated each of the capabilities they outlined in the job description. They wanted to know about the times where I exhibited leadership, strong decision making, results focus, effective communication and utilised innovative technology. I had all the evidence fresh in my mind along with how to describe the situations using the STAR technique.
Validity of my degree
“After the formalities were over it became clear that the recruiter had no interest in my skills or pursuing the intended format of the interview. They instead only wanted to focus on the School of Management and the validity of my degree. I had to sit uncomfortably for 45 minutes trying to defend an institution I have very little faith in, trying to prove that I had covered the syllabus in the detail he would have expected of a candidate of another, more respected university.
“While my CV doesn’t state where I received my master’s degree, those who ask are usually disappointed to find out it’s from Swansea. I’m at the point now where I’m unsure whether its actually helping my job applications. As bad as it sounds, at times I’m not totally proud of my achievements despite all of the work I put in.
“Yes, Professor Piercy isn’t the cause of all the problems and he did come in with some very good ideas. However nothing can make up for the completely unprofessional way in which he has handled himself while serving as dean. His disrespectful and facetious attitude towards the staff, the students and the unions has turned him into a figurehead for the discontent felt by all of those associated with the School of Management.
‘Position is untenable’
“As someone whose career depends on the reputation of my Alma Mater I want to ask if Professor Nigel Piercy will accept that he is personally responsible for tarnishing the image of the School and in turn, the University?
“Regardless of whether he can solve the issues faced by the College by taking it in a new direction; I am of the view that the problems he created, his handling of the situation and the resulting public relations mess has made his position untenable.“
A spokesperson for the university said: “We are sorry to hear that this former student is having difficulty finding a job in the current challenging climate despite their hard work and qualifications. We endeavour to support our students and alumni as fully as we can. If this graduate would like to pass on their details then we will arrange a meeting and offer as much help as possible in their search for employment.”
Ilana Cohen, students’ union education officer, said: ““It is the union’s role to ensure that the student experience is central to everything the university does in every situation. I will endeavour to work harder with the School of Management to continue to help resolve any issues which might harm the student experience. It is very upsetting to hear about the negative impact this situation is having on former students, but I hope the situation will improve so that every graduate will be proud of their experiences and achievements at Swansea University.”