COVID-19 lockdown: consolidating a student mindfulness model

To state that COVID-19 has been a mental health roller coaster is an understatement. Considering the continual lockdown and the severity of its impact, LSST speaks with industry professionals and proposes a mindfulness model.

Image: LSST Marketing/John Hain

It is now palpable that the psychological and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are persistent and prevalent and can affect mental health progressively.

As the pandemic is occurring against the backdrop of an increased incidence of mental health issues, LSST welcomes the recent launch of the University Mental Health Charter and Office for Student (OfS) Briefing Papers on Mental Health. Thus, the time to cooperatively consider mental health outcomes through alternative narratives, such as through the lens of mindfulness, has never been more manifest or meaningful:

Mental health during the lockdown

According to new global research by Ipsos Mori, Britons are most likely to be experiencing anxiety under lockdown than other health concerns. Almost 3 in 10 (28%) say they are suffering from anxiety under lockdown, more than the global average of 24%. Ongoing social isolation, solitude, health anxiety, stress, upsetting news stories, and an advancing economic slump are acting as the perfect storm to harm people’s mental health and wellbeing.

*Used with permission from Ipsos Mori: Coronavirus polling, 15th-18th May 2020. 1,076 British adults 18-75. Online omnibus.

Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation, OfS, added: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed students’ day-to-day lives. While the physical health and safety of students is critical, looking after their mental health and wellbeing is vital in helping students to succeed and benefit from their time at university or college. It is important that universities and colleges recognise the impact the pandemic may have on students’ mental health and wellbeing and do all they can to support students effectively.’

The Lancet Psychiatry reveals that the UK lockdown and self-isolation policy are significantly impairing mental health. Commenting on the research, Irina Barariu, LSST’s Student Union President, said: ‘Too many people are underestimating the emotional impact of COVID-19. As the pandemic takes the central stage, people are mourning the loss of their former lives by missing the way things once were.’

The UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Students – a forum of MPs and their peers to discuss issues that affect students in higher education – found 33% of students had experienced suicidal thoughts. Further, poor mental health in higher education remains a significant problem, not only because it affects how students learn but because this also influences whether or not they obtain a degree. Ultimately, symptoms of poor mental health change the career potential and overall lives of students leading to depression – now the leading global cause of disability.

Speaking with LSST about the connection between employment and mental health, Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers, said: ‘It has been a difficult time for everyone. Employers recognise this and the best are trying to be flexible and provide support for new staff to deal with the current situation. However, there is a well-acknowledged link between employment and mental health. If people have a reduced chance of finding good quality work as a result of the crisis, we should expect that mental health issues will increase.’


Read a mental health statement from LSST’s Student Union here

What about self-control?

Health psychology research looks at one crucial answer to mental health, which is all about self-control: the ability to suppress non-relevant intruding thoughts, behaviours, and emotions. Yet, while self-control leads to positive outcomes, repeated acts of self-control can lead to mental exhaustion and harm mental health and wellbeing.

Working and studying from home requires significant self-control, and whilst most campus environments are designed to engage students and staff in work, home environments are traditionally not. It is therefore essential to transition as much of the campus vibrancy to the virtual world (see: https://www.lsst.ac/news/covid-19-lockdown/).

A regeneration of higher education mental health?

Last year an LSST blog espoused that the entire higher education sector should join together and put student mental health first and keep it there as a planned priority. One giant step closer to this reality is the recently published University Mental Health Charter, a product of a significant amount of work by people across the sector and beyond. The Charter is a welcomed touchpoint to shape a future in which everyone can thrive by acting as a reference point to understand what good mental health practice is.

Additionally, in light of the ongoing lockdown, UUK has recently published a refreshed version of its strategic framework, Stepchange: mentally healthy universities. It calls on universities to prioritise mental health by taking a ‘whole university approach’, meaning that mental health and wellbeing is to be considered across every aspect of the university and its practices.

Professor Julia Buckingham, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University London, said: ‘At this difficult and unprecedented time, during which universities have moved all of their student support provision online as well as supporting those students still living at university, we are releasing this framework because the top priority for all universities remains the safety, health and wellbeing of the entire university community.’

The higher education sector, and beyond, aspires for improved and more equal mental health and wellbeing outcomes for students and staff. Additionally, the Augar Report states that higher education plays a central role in enabling social mobility lifetime remunerative employment and higher levels of education that are associated with better physical and mental health.

A student mindfulness model – creating space between you and your thoughts

Mindfulness, recommended for those who want to improve their mental health and wellbeing, is when we are fully present and aware of what we are doing, while not being overwhelmed by what is occurring around us. While it may not be easy at the beginning, it gets better over practice.

Professor Rajita Sinha, director of the world-renowned Yale University Stress Center, says that mindfulness practice does not have to be convoluted. ‘It is really about being in the moment, observing what’s coming at you from the outside and what’s coming up inside—taking it in and observing, and not reacting to it.’

Anne Dutton, Director of Mindfulness Education, Yale University, says mindfulness is a practice that involves three components:

  • • Paying attention to what is happening in the present moment
  • • Doing this purposely and deliberately, with resolve
  • • Maintaining the attitude that you will stay with your mindfulness experience, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant

World-leading psychology expert, Professor Sara Lazar, Harvard University, speaking with LSST about Dutton’s work, said: ‘This is what mindfulness is. At least the most basic aspect of it. There is complexity and nuance in terms of how it is applied to specific situations, but this is always the core component.’

Professor Lazar’s research shows that the mind’s constant chatter can be stopped by mindfulness – proving to be irreplaceable when people are worried about their health, staying distant from
families and friends and job security during lockdown.

Speaking about mindfulness practice, Dr Wendy Wigley, LSST’s Head of Student Support and Enhancement, said: ‘I believe one of the most important messages to come out of the crisis is that it is OK not to be OK. The lockdown has impacted each of us in different ways. I encourage colleagues to be ‘mindfully aware’ when engaging with students during the lockdown. This means to listen to what students are really saying and to not ‘rush in’ and ‘fix’ the problem. During these unprecedented times, we can help each other by being more self-aware.’

Shan Wikoon, Lecturer in Business, LSST Elephant and Castle campus, said: ‘Using LSST’s PACT Model of Mindfulness can help with student challenges relating to mental health factors. The model can also assist lecturers in approaching mindfulness by paying attention to student concerns in the present moment in a calm and non-judgmental manner.’

Dr Julieta Galante, a mindfulness and mental health expert at Cambridge University, speaking with LSST about student mindfulness courses, said: ‘Our team has recently published a review of mindfulness courses for university students. We found encouraging evidence that they are effective for promoting mental health in the average student, including reducing anxiety. However, the low methodological quality of most of the trials found by the review precludes making firm recommendations for practice. The variability of the effects that we found means that some students in some contexts may not benefit from mindfulness. Of relevance for the current COVID-19 lockdown situation, our findings suggest that there may not be significant differences between self-help and instructor-led mindfulness courses.’

LSST’s PACT model of mindfulness

Working with LSST’s Student Union, a practical, memorable and student orientated mindfulness model has been proposed to promote positive mental health among the whole student population:

Image: LSST Marketing/Nasir Bashir

The right to optimal mental health

Poor mental health and its hidden health issues among students has profound adverse consequences in terms of the future of education providers and industry sectors that rely on graduates.

Everyone has the right to optimal mental health and mindfulness practices can help. The LSST PACT model aims to promote positive mental health among the whole student population.

Acknowledgements: LSST would like to thank the Office for Students, Universities UK, Cambridge University, Harvard University, Yale University, Ipsos MORI, the Institute of Student Employers and LSST’s Student Union for their comments and time.

Further reading

Dr Rowan Myron, Associate Professor in Healthcare Management and Adult Health, University of West London, one of LSST’s university partners, shares five top tips for keeping mentally well and improving your wellbeing during the ongoing pandemic.

How Students Can Think Positive During COVID–19: https://www.lsst.ac/blogs/positive_thinking/

How Students Can Confront COVID-19 Stress Whilst Studying From Home: https://www.lsst.ac/news/covid_19_stress_guide/

Mental Health in Higher Education and the Sector Challenges Ahead: https://www.lsst.ac/blogs/mental_health_in_he/

Contact kunal.mehta@lsst.ac to learn more about the PACT model.




LSST’s Head of Quality releases song to back NHS Charities Together campaign

There is an olden tradition of harnessing music to fight feelings of fear; post-Covid-19, this is evidenced by balcony singing through to virtual parties during the current lockdown.

Music has a supremacy to brighten our disposition, reframe our perspective, and replace overwhelming bad news with optimism. Fortunately, conveying a little cheer to the millions of people in their own home, Maldwyn Buckland, LSST’s Head of Quality, has written and released ‘Reach Out’ – a reassuring song to elevate people’s spirits during the coronavirus crisis and raise money for NHS Charities Together.

Reach Out is an original composition with its video featuring some of the key workers in Lancaster and Kendal hospitals. Maldwyn and vocalist Linda Campbell are aiming to help lift the spirits of NHS workers who are risking their lives by treating patients with the coronavirus.

Maldwyn, who has supported 1960s chart topping acts such as Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band and St Louis Union, said: ‘I wanted to empower people to come together in song, to be a part of something bigger and to support one another during isolation.’ He went on to say: ‘The tragic Ethiopian famine in 1984 sparked a huge outcry resulting in the Band Aid charity single ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’. This had a huge impact on me, and I ended up writing the ‘Reach Out’ song, 36 years ago, which has sat gathering dust until now! Having decided that the lyrics of the song were as relevant today, as they were in 1984, I decided to use the track to raise funds for NHS Charities Together.’

Listen here:

NHS Charities Together Chief Executive, Ellie Orton, said: ‘Thank you Maldwyn for choosing to raise funds in aid of NHS Charities Together through this song. Donations to NHS Charities Together are helping NHS workers, volunteers and patients impacted by COVID-19 right now. We hugely appreciate your support during this extremely challenging time. Thank you.’

Irina Barariu, LSST’s Student Union President, added: ‘The song will mean a lot to students who would like to reach out in person to one another again but just do not know when. Within a few days, the song has already raised nearly £500 and is well on track to raise much more. This is a fantastic illustration of what can be accomplished by those in isolation.’

Speaking about the NHS efforts, Mr Syed Zaidi, LSST’s CEO, said: ‘LSST is joining the country in sharing its support for everyone in the NHS and all key workers who are playing an excellent and essential role. We urge our LSST community to help raise as much money as they can for NHS charities.’

The NHS Charities Together Urgent Appeal acknowledges and supports NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients. It has been put together in liaison with NHS England and national bodies, member NHS charities and national giving platforms.

Click here to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ReachOutNHS

• The views expressed are those of the author and contributors and not necessarily those of LSST.

• LSST is not responsible for content on linked and external sites.

Please email kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments about the article.

Pandemic paradox: during a divided world, universities unify to combat COVID-19

Post-Covid-19, the world is divided by political opinion; yet, as best practice, the brightest university minds unite as one – in true Dunkirk spirit – to connect the void. From risking their lives for others, working perpetually and virtually, freely sharing research and not expecting to make profit – never has the history of Higher Education seen – or perhaps will see – such global unity from university staff and students.

Covid-19 versus Global Academia

Whilst we are all paralysed by Covid-19 uncertainty, we are, now more than ever, reliant on timely advice and expertise. And evidently, universities are the foremost institutions when it comes to research, innovation and experience of interpreting world-class research into real world outcomes. To emphasise, the very reason why the UK went into – and remains – in lockdown is because of a study from Imperial College London.

Despite global political division, during this era of global need, academic researchers have become progressively connected and co-dependent, disregarding conventional concerns such as academic credit and wealth creation. Irina Barariu, LSST’s SU President, said: ‘Whilst many businesses and luminaries are asking themselves questions about how relevant they are in these times of challenge, around the world an army of unsung Higher Education heroes are battling to defend us from Covid-19. Irina added: ‘However, at present, everyone in research is looking for answers that they cannot find because nobody yet knows them.’

Owing to the political divisions and governmental rifts with international organisations such as the WHO, university research is now stepping in to fill the void. Thus, university research output has never been more crucial or more challenging – notably during lockdown and social distancing measures. Despite the substantial impact on the sector, universities have become regarded as crucial contributors to factual dialogue.

Speaking with LSST about the scale of the international response effort, Rachel Bridges, Global Health Communications Manager, United Nations Foundation, said: ‘The WHO estimates a need of $675 million through just the end of April 2020 to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the global spread of the disease, this need is estimated to grow by nearly ten-fold through the end of the year.’

Boosting the hospital frontline

LSST’s university partners – the University of West London (UWL), London Metropolitan University; Buckinghamshire New University – are playing meaningful roles in combating Covid-19. To date, a UWL student midwife is bringing together inspiring stories during the pandemic through a blog series reaching out to students across the world. A London Metropolitan University Immunology Professor twice appeared on CNN to share expert opinion about the search for a Covid-19 vaccination and highlight personal protective equipment (PPE) issues. Amongst a series of ongoing support measures, Buckinghamshire New University is providing around 13,500 items of much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS to protect staff on the front-line.

Professor David Lomas, Vice Provost (Health), UCL, states that researchers must ‘stand ready’ to join the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic and step up and deliver to assist the national crisis. As coronavirus spreads around the world, UCL experts are taking a prominent role in advancing public knowledge about the virus by advising world leaders and rapidly researching new ways of tackling Covid-19.

Also, King’s College London has allocated nurses, academics and researchers to focus on supporting the response to the pandemic and boosting NHS resources. Louise Rose, KCL’s Professor of Critical Care Nursing, is pausing her entire academic work at King’s to support intensive care staff at St Thomas’ Hospital, caring for numerous patients and training nurses and others as they treat patients with Covid-19.

All the while, a growing number of university medical students have volunteered to join the NHS effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Oxford University’s medical students started supporting patients voluntarily in local hospitals before the national lockdown, as early as 20 March. Dr Lois Brand, Associate Director of Clinical Studies, Oxford University, said: ‘The emergency department team has been overwhelmed by the incredible response of the final year students to our request for volunteers.’

Navigating the pandemic’s impact on hospital footfall, Stanford University has created a calculator that predicts whether and when a hospital or a community is about to be overwhelmed. Kevin Schulman, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, initiated the project and utilised the skills of his students – over virtual platforms during lockdown – to swiftly deliver on the concept.

Speaking with LSST about hospital-related Covid-19 research, world renowned Medical Engineering and Microbiology expert Professor Lee Gehrke, who works at both Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, said: ‘The one part of this complex issue that I can comment on is the availability of low cost diagnostics that can be manufactured quickly and distributed widely for ability to all who need them, no matter their geographic location or financial status. Diagnostics are needed for early diagnosis to identify the pathogen, define a treatment plan, and separate infected from uninfected.’

Concerning research hindrances, Professor Gehrke added: ‘The main issues holding our diagnostic research back are the availability of curated human samples (nasopharyngeal swabs, throat swabs, serum; saliva) that can be used for validating our test. ‘Curated’ samples mean that they have been tested using a ‘gold standard’ method against which our device can be validated.’

Social distancing

The University of Oxford is gathering volunteers from across the globe in order to look into how social distancing has affected their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Bahar Tuncgenc, from the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology and the Social Body Lab at the University of Oxford, leading the study, said: ‘Keeping distance from our loved ones, especially in such uncertain and threatening times, is an unusual and at times difficult way to be asked to live. We want to find out how these distancing measures have been affecting people’s daily lives and what they may have been doing to help get through it.’

Furthermore, scientists at the University of Cambridge have found an association between living in an area of England with high levels of air pollution and the severity of Covid-19. The researchers have openly and freely shared their findings in their report on MedRXiv recognising the urgent need to share pandemic information to help global response efforts.

A separate study, led by Professor William Sutherland, University of Cambridge, has already identified an astonishing 275 ways to reduce transmission of the coronavirus after the national lockdown (no date has been set at the time of writing). The study offers a shortlist of the most appropriate options for a phased return to normality and should be considered in the context of effectiveness, cost, practicality and fairness.

Contrastingly, Stanford University researchers have examined why people are not practicing in the recommendation to social distance. Jeff Hancock, Stanford’s globally renowned Professor of Communication, referring to US regions, said: ‘Clearly different parts of the population have different kinds of concerns and reasons for not social distancing, and government communication should address those. I hope that governments use [our] findings and recommendations to improve how they communicate public health orders for sheltering-in-place so that we can get as much compliance as possible.’

Covid-19 versus Technology

Although contested, the idea of an app to track and trace those who have been exposed to Covid-19 is one of many emerging at break-neck speed as researchers focus their combined efforts to combat Covid-19.

Speaking directly with LSST about his latest research on creating an app for Covid-19 detection and prevention, Professor Christophe [sic] Fraser, Oxford University, said: ‘Coronavirus is unlike previous epidemics and requires multiple inter-dependent containment strategies. Our analysis suggests that almost half of coronavirus transmissions occur in the very early phase of infection, before symptoms appear, so we need a fast and effective mobile app for alerting people who have been exposed. Our mathematical modelling suggests that traditional public health contact tracing methods cannot keep up with the virus.’

Highlighting constraints, Professor Fraser continued: ‘Current strategies are not working fast enough to intercept transmission of coronavirus. To effectively tackle this pandemic, we need to harness 21st century technology. Our research makes the case for a mobile application that accelerates our ability to trace infected people and provides vital information that keeps communities safe from this pandemic.’

Stanford University students raised app privacy concerns as early as February 2020 in an online post and rapidly set out ways to to create a smartphone-based app that would allow people who tested positive for Covid-19 to anonymously alert others whom they might have unwittingly infected. The post elicited help from scholars across the world and the result: Covid Watch – a bootstrapped, international, non-profit built around 15 core contributors, and nearly 200 part-time volunteers, with an advisory contribution by Stanford University’s Julie Parsonnet, a world leading Professor in Medicine.

MIT research discovered that Bluetooth signals from smartphones could automate Covid-19 contact tracing while preserving privacy. In turn, a system that enables smartphones to transmit ‘chirps’ to nearby devices could notify people if they have been near an infected person. Ron Rivest, MIT Institute Professor and principal investigator of the project, said: ‘For these broadcasts, we’re using cryptographic techniques to generate random, rotating numbers that are not just anonymous, but pseudonymous, constantly changing their ‘ID,’ and that can’t be traced back to an individual.’ Professor Rivest and his students have also, full-heartedly, volunteered to play a central role with other efforts around the world to develop similar, privacy-preserving contact-tracing systems.

Also, intriguingly, Professor Markus Buehler at MIT and his team used artificial intelligence to transform a model of the biological structure of the Covid-19 virus, into interwoven melodies in a classical musical composition. Professor Buehler, who believes the tune offers a more intuitive way for people to comprehend the virus, said: ‘You would need many different images, many different magnifications to see with your eyes, what your ears can pick up with just a couple of seconds of music’.

As more people are diagnosed with Covid-19, which causes breathing and respiratory problems, the need for more ventilators is now more apparent. Tackling this at the forefront, an interdisciplinary team of experts from King’s College London and Oxford University are creating and testing prototypes that can be quickly manufactured using university and SME workshops. Further, a consortium of companies from the UK industrial, technology and engineering industries have come together to design and manufacture ventilators.

Covid-19 Vaccinations – a pandemic panacea?

According to online reports provided to LSST by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), typically, a safe and effective vaccine will take anywhere from 10 to 15 years for development if one is starting from scratch.

Nobody can be certain that it is possible to find a Covid-19 vaccine, but the prospects are ‘very good’, according to Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University, who is currently leading a number of leading clinical trials. Comparatively, in 2014, it was Oxford University that helped develop a vaccine for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Speaking with LSST about whether research should be focusing on Covid-19 drugs more than vaccinations – or both equally, Dr Evelyn Ling, hospitalist at Stanford Medicine and one of the sub-investigators of the clinical trials at Stanford University, said: ‘Yes, we should be performing studies for both an antiviral drug and vaccine. The antiviral drug will treat those with Covid-19 and the vaccine will give immunity to those without Covid-19.’

Regarding a polarised vaccination focus, Dr Jeremy Howick, a globally acclaimed Oxford University Philosopher and Medical Researcher, told LSST: ‘There are a lot of unknowns. However, it seems that even someone who recovers from the virus and generates their own – endogenous – antibodies, may become re-infected. Whereas, again, it seems, that the antibodies generated by vaccines last longer.’

Dr Howick went on to highlight the unity amongst universities: ‘Covid-19 is bringing people together. The virus does not respect borders or institutional walls. So many people are coming together to help each other, and this includes university collaborations. Just last week, I have been asked by researchers in London, Australia, and India to collaborate.’

Thus, given the urgency of the situation, it is most likely that universities will need to fuse government and industry requirements to balance the risks and benefits of any vaccines produced and administered. This indicates that the first vaccine produced may not be the most effective. Vaccine development is a famously slow process; however, the possibility of producing a viable candidate would likely have been impossible if it were not for the support of a broad international university effort.

Universities creating a Covid-19 legacy

In the face of political divide, universities continue to answer vital research questions and evaluate results in order to complete missing pieces of the Covid-19 puzzle. No single university can answer it alone so academic work must be globally connected – but in a sustainable way.

Further, universities need to recognise – and remember – that a great Covid-19 research paper alone is not enough. Plausible development, mobilisation and exposure is needed. And then, the research must set agendas, create debates, inform leaders, and make a meaningful difference.

Amid all the uncertainty and shock, Covid-19 has proven the ethical responsibilities of universities as stalwarts of much needed independent and credible information. History will never forget the rapid and remarkable public health response and collective contribution of every university staff and student. Ultimately, everyone will remember that universities are invaluable in a public health crisis.

• The views expressed are those of the author and contributors and not necessarily those of LSST.

• LSST is not responsible for content on linked and external sites.

• At the time of writing, the situation regarding what is understood about Covid-19 is fast developing and whilst every effort has been made to check the currency of the aforementioned links, it is advised to check websites directly in case of any updates.

Please email kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments or to find out more about the Covid-19 research mentioned in the article.

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COVID-19 Lockdown – transitioning LSST online

By Ali Jafar Zaidi and Kunal Chan Mehta

LSST’s CEO, Mr Syed Zaidi, lauds students and staff for a rapid and robust response to transitioning LSST online, post-COVID-19.

The global impact of COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder of just how connected we are to each other – and how the choices we make today determine tomorrow’s options.

Large numbers of specialised and exceptionally dedicated staff from LSST’s London, Luton and Birmingham campuses worked non-stop to respond to COVID-19’s multifaceted challenges such as the immediate suspension of all face-to-face teaching. The staff considered every contingent as they rapidly undertook key planning and implementation work to ensure that each student had minimal disruption to their studies.

The choice to transition to total virtual teaching was not made lightly but the changes made were focused on following clear government guidelines on limiting the spread of COVID-19.

A selection of LSST WFH-heroes from our Wembley (London), Elephant and Castle (London), Luton and Birmingham campuses

LSST’s CEO, Mr Syed Zaidi, speaking about the concerted effort, said: ‘It is only at the most challenging of times that we rely on the collective determination, creativity and judgment of our staff. I am honoured to be a member of LSST’s community where staff have put the greater good above their own self-interest. I particularly thank our incredible students for their resilience and calm during this difficult chapter – and despite our increased distance, we have deepened our attention for each other.’

LSST’s Deputy CEO, Mr Mohammed Zaidi, added: ‘LSST’s IT department worked incessantly with teams across the country and undertook a month’s task within a weekend. LSST’s loyal workforce has time and time again proved that it is quickly able to mobilise teams and resources to successfully adapt during a comprehensive crisis. Our partners – London Metropolitan University, Buckinghamshire New University, and the University of West London – are in support of our ingenuity behind transitioning LSST online. Sequentially, we are now in the process of aligning our systems to offer LSST’s virtual learning platforms to students across the globe.’

Acknowledging the intensity of the pandemic, LSST’s Student Union President, Irina Barariu, added: ‘At a truly isolating time, LSST’s virtual learning system has helped students remain connected to their lecturers, peers and course learning materials. Without this system, many students would not have been able to continue their studies. The software is so life-like that you can record events, raise a digital hand in class, type opinions and virtually connect with classmates to formulate opinions. The overall student feedback is very positive and I feel that virtual learning will become a larger part of LSST’s teaching delivery in the future.’

Contact ali.jafar@lsst.ac, LSST’s Marketing and Admissions Director, to learn more about LSST Global.

Contact kunal.mehta@lsst.ac, LSST’s Public Relations Department, to learn more about LSST’s transition to online learning during the COVID-19 emergency.

How students can confront COVID-19 stress whilst studying from home: a student and staff perspective

By Kunal Chan Mehta (LSST Public Relations), Dr Wendy Wigley (LSST’s Head of Student Enhancement) and Irina Barariu (LSST’s Student Union President)

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has the potential to increase student stress and anxiety whilst studying from home. Although we unanimously agree that the situation is tragic – it is crucial to remember that it is temporary.

Our ‘national anxiety’ needs to be considered as a form of shared stress where we are all in a state of unwanted uncertainty. However, anxiety thrives on uncertainty and this needs to be confronted during the COVID-19 lock-down.

When dealing with any crisis, it can be challenging to keep calm and remain anxiety-free. However, we find that students can confront COVID-19 stress by following our Four-Factors of Managing COVID-19 Stress model.

We hope that this LSST student-led guide can help students regain their calm during the global ‘pandemic panic’. Everyone is unique, so some of these ideas may not work for everyone. But we hope that within them, there is something for every student.

Fig 1: Four-factors of managing COVID-19 stress

Source: LSST

This model is easy to follow and implement. You are perhaps already covering most of the Four-Factors, but this plan keeps them in check and makes sure there is further focus on each of them. You will notice that each factor harmonises the other and gets stronger over time.


Facing any form of crisis may create a newly formed anxiety or it could exacerbate existing anxieties – so it is important to stay connected with – and seek support from – LSST staff, peers, family, friends and others that are in similar situations.

List your preferred communication support channels from LSST staff, fellow students, family and friends. List, in hierarchy form, who you have the most support from. Then map your preferred support via phone, social media apps, text, email, and video calling. What works best for you? This will give you added confidence and show you how much support you actually have. We have added some charities, that you may wish to consider, at the base of this article to add too. You may wish to create separate versions titled with LSST, family and friends. By completing this factor, you will notice that you are not alone!

You may have listed social media as a preferred contact method. But be ‘media mindful’ by only interacting with messages that do not upset you. With such high levels of COVID-19 related panic and purposeful misinformation, social media distancing is perfectly fine and – can possibly be just as important as social distancing.

Fig 2: Organising how you stay connected

Source: LSST

According to Fink (2007), anxiety tells us that we ‘should’ be able to handle the entire situation alone and that we need no help in doing so. This is wrong – and one of anxiety’s greatest deceptions. The fact is that we do need each other and by staying connected you can get help and support and, in turn, make solutions and opportunities easier to find.

Further, it is perfectly normal to feel vulnerable. In 2010 Brene Brown undertook her first TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability. It is worth a watch here: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability.

Her work shows that we all feel the same at most points in our lives.

TED talks are also great resources for advice. Ultimately, listening to such speakers reminds us that everyone faces their own challenges, and, at the same time, everyone needs encouragement to remind them that things will get better.

Connect to yourself too! Focus on your state of wellbeing. For those that wish to, prayer and meditation can help also (see calm-centric below). Ultimately, history will ask you what you undertook during the COVID-19 crisis – make sure you have a positive and uplifting story to tell.

See our LSST SU guide below for more advice.


In choosing your calm-centric position, you are not ignoring your issues or feelings, but you are preventing them from consuming you. Try to just take one step or day at a time, if you try to look at the bigger picture you may feel overwhelmed. This is not to say you should stick your head in the sand, we still all need to heed the Government, NHS and Public Health warnings, but try to set small achievable goals in your academic study and family life.

It is totally normal and understandable to feel anxious about what may happen during the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly when so many aspects of life, as we know it, are being changed.

Whilst we agree that there are many negatives with the current COVID-19 crisis, it is also true to say that not everything is negative. Instead of receiving just any news thrown at you, why not search for positive news! Have you web searched what is going right? There are heart-warming stories of how societies across the UK are supporting each other and how entire communities are coming together to support NHS staff. There are countless ways of volunteering – even during the national lock-down.

To remain calm-centric, you need to monitor what could be making you more stressed. If social media messages or watching the news is making you stressed, you need to stop or reduce your interaction. So why not offset stressful moments with calming activities such as:

  • Reading books
  • Breathing exercises
  • Indoor exercises
  • Watching comedy shows
  • Listening to your favourite music
  • If the weather is good, open the windows and if you have garden space, sit outside and relax
  • Mindfulness, meditation or prayer


It is always easier said than done but it is worth trying to accept circumstances that cannot be changed by you – and instead focus on what you can change.

What does a good day mean to you now – in the current reality of COVID-19? Why not plan what you want to achieve? Here are some ideas:

Try to keep a routine. While studying from home why not wear your LSST ID badge? This keeps you in the present moment of academic work and prevents other distractions. It can also remind others that you still need to study.

When are your assignment deadlines? Work back from these dates (this is called a critical path). You will then be able plan how much you should have achieved by when. Take delight in knowing your studies are yours to own and no one can take this away from you.

Set achievable goals set within the new situations in your life.

Evaluate that there are many health benefits for you and your loved ones during the national COVID-19 lock down.


Being courteous to yourself means treating yourself in a kind and respectful way. You should always celebrate your successes and find things to be grateful about and take delight in completing your tasks (set in fig 2).

Create schedule and give yourself regular comfort breaks to become anxiety-free again. Set yourself a ‘personal contract’ where you reward yourself on completion of tasks.

Help others too. Share your Four-Factors of Managing COVID-19 Stress plan ideas with others. Learn from each other.

You need to now keep going and keep developing your plan overtime. You will really notice that the time you spend planning is never wasted.


Remember everyone at LSST is here for you; we are committed to you and your learning and we know that what you achieve will make life better for you and those who you love. Try to stay strong and positive and you will get through this with us all at your side.

Any crisis can derail us and resultantly increase anxiety. But by choosing your perspective, adopting a solution-focused approach and confidently reaching out for help and support, you can remain stress and anxiety free in any crisis.

Above all, remember that dealing positively and proactively with stress reactions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak can improve your health, quality of life, and wellbeing.

Why not add the below helpful messages to your Four-Factor plan? These have been compiled by LSST’s SU by speaking with students at our London Wembley, London Elephant and Castle, Luton and Birmingham campuses.

LSST SU’s stress-busting tips whilst studying at home

1. Be as nice and as kind as you can possibly be. Kindness is the best stress healer!

2. See an opportunity in every crisis. What good can come out of this bad situation – there are answers.

3. Do what is easy before doing what is difficult when it comes to LSST assessment work.

4. The COVID-19 crisis seems endless, but it will end – so don’t panic.

5. Read academic textbooks and journals suggested by LSST lecturers and not tabloids! Do not overconsume social media at a time like this as this adds stress. Also, scrolling through social media feeds is a bad habit. You could spend all day reading headlines, but this will not change your risk of getting coronavirus!

6. Plan ahead to feel more in control and always say: “I’ve done the best that I can to be prepared.”

7. I have learned that when your mood is low, your energy is low so stay alert and active.

8. There is a lot of capacity for exercise in the home during the national lock-down. Push ups, star jumps and walking indoors all help. There are many exercise apps on Apple App Store and Android to facilitate.

9. Eat as healthily as possible. When you get bored people start to eat the wrong things and at the wrong times. Keep a food diary where you keep a record and share with other LSST students.

10. To combat stress, an early night is a good night, and let’s be honest, we have lots of opportunity for early nights now.

11. Listen to music regularly as it is a healer compared to any news, radio or TV! Or if you can – practice it. I play the guitar and am getting better!

12. Stay in touch with fellow LSST students. Keep in touch with the classmates that you would usually be in touch with on a regular basis.

13. Do charity work or try and do something good for the NHS staff and other healthcare staff.

14. Think about helping foodbanks as many LSST students I know work in hospitality maybe we can help foodbanks with our stocks?

15. Enjoy nature programmes on BBC or Netflix. Great to heal stress and anxiety.

Why not add to this list by leaving a comment below?


Banks, K., Newman, E. and Saleem, J., (2015). An Overview of the Research on Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Treating Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 71(10), pp.935-963.

Fink, G., (2007). Encyclopaedia Of Stress. 1st ed. Oxford: Academic Press/Elsevier.

NHS.UK. (2017). Mindfulness For Mental Wellbeing – Stress, Anxiety And Depression – NHS Choices. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 March 2020].

TED Talks

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability [Accessed 26 March 2020].

https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_how_to_be_your_best_self_in_times_of_crisis [Accessed 26 March 2020].

NHS Stress Help

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/ [Accessed 26 March 2020].

WHO Stress Help

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/coping-with-stress.pdf?sfvrsn=9845bc3a_8 [Accessed 26 March 2020].

For further support on stress, anxiety contact:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123

How to reference this article:

Mehta, K, Wigley, W. and Barariu, I. (2020) How students can confront COVID-19 stress whilst studying from home: a student and staff perspective. LSST. Available at http://www.lsst.ac/news/COVID_19_stress_guide [Add the date you accessed the article here]

Contact kunal.mehta@lsst.ac to learn more about the Four-Factors of Managing COVID-19 Stress model.

LSST’s Deputy CEO speaks with the United Nations Global Compact about a united response to the COVID-19 outbreak

Mr Mohammed Zaidi, LSST’s Deputy CEO and Group Principal, and the United Nations Global Compact urge for a united response from businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The UN Global Compact has also urged companies to take a collective and collaborative stance to stem the volatile COVID-19 outbreak by using its 10 Principles.

Watch the interview here:

As the virus continues its spread across the world, LSST praises the global effort taken by the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Governments, health authorities, healthcare staff and its partners to prevent, detect and manage the pandemic.

The Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact

The Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact are derived from: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Human Rights

Principle 1:

Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and

Principle 2:

make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.


Principle 3:

Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

Principle 4:

the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;

Principle 5:

the effective abolition of child labour; and

Principle 6:

the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.


Principle 7:

Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;

Principle 8:

undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and

Principle 9:

encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.


Principle 10:

Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

Source: UN Global Compact (2020)

Join the conversation and comment below. What did you learn from United Nations’ responses about addressing business challenges post-COVID-19?

Please email kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments or to find out more about the UN Global Compact.

BBC Apprentice star Jemelin Artigas visits LSST Elephant & Castle students to talk about entrepreneurship

BBC Apprentice star, entrepreneur, public figure and actress Jemelin Artigas received a very warm welcome when she visited LSST’s Elephant and Castle Campus on 18 February 2020.

Jemelin Artigas (l) interviewed by Kunal Chan Mehta (r), LSST’s Senior PRO, on her current work and future aspirations

Recently winning the nation’s heart on BBC’s The Apprentice, Jemelin inspired students with her successful network marketing business and bespoke entrepreneurship guidance.

Watch the event highlights here:

Jemelin Artigas is presented with a perfume gift and learns about student business start ups

Jemelin, who appeared in series 15 of the show and was named by LSST students as their favourite Apprentice candidate of all time, is currently writing a book on her incredible journey that started from homelessness through to setting up successful events’ applications to working on films such as Fury (2014) alongside Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Michael Pena. Jemelin outlined that she is currently working on several films and that she is only just getting started.

Jemelin Artigas on set with Michael Pena (Photo: Jemelin Artigas, used with permission)

LSST’s Student Union Coordinator, Loxandra Goldings, said: ‘Every student has been captivated by Jemelin’s clear-cut business focus and energy. Jemelin is an ambassador for entrepreneurship and equal rights and I thank everyone at LSST for putting together such a worthwhile and well-organised event.’

An emotional Jemelin Artigas is presented with flowers and praise from LSST students

Jemelin Artigas is thanked by students for her detailed and inspiring answers

Jemelin talked with LSST students about her time on the BBC Apprentice and what it taught her, she said: ‘No matter what you do in life, make sure you do it to the best of your ability – and that the key ingredients for being successful in business are to remain patient, resilient and motivated.’

Jemelin Artigas with Dr Marta Hawkins, LSST’s Associate Dean and SU representatives Loxandra Goldings (far left) and Mimi Zinga (far right)

Jemelin Artigas with LSST Elephant and Castle staff

Jemelin, whose mantra in life is ‘don’t have problems, have solutions’, said: ‘LSST students are our future and they really inspired me with their business ideas and impressive thought-intensive questions on succeeding in life. They have a genuine and strong passion for academia and possess many important work-ready skills.’

Students praise Jemelin Artigas for being an ambassador for equal rights and empowerment

LSST’s Deputy CEO, Mr Mohammed Zaidi, said: ‘Yet again LSST students have showcased their electrifying business proposals and practice to industry professionals. It clearly has been a very exciting and memorable event and we are all absolutely delighted with how helpful and motivating Jemelin has been to our students.’

Whilst at LSST, Jemelin discussed her forthcoming LSST blog which will focus on entrepreneurship skills and her desire to return to LSST for additional events.

See Jemelin’s clips from BBC The Apprentice – Season 15 here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0008zsl/clips

Jemelin Artigas takes a selfie with thrilled LSST SU representative Mimi Zinga

Jemelin Artigas smiles during a selfie with a delighted student

Jemelin Artigas makes time for photos with every student

LSST students – join the conversation and comment below. What did you learn from Jemelin’s entrepreneurship visit?

Please email kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments or to find out more about applying to BBC’s The Apprentice.

LSST’s Partnerships Manager publishes two articles in prestigious Journal of Financial Economic Policy

Dr Mohamad Hassan. Photo: LSST

LSST is thrilled to announce that its Partnerships [sic] Manager for Business and Hospitality Management, Dr Mohamad Hassan, has published two leading finance orientated articles in the prestigious Journal of Financial Economic Policy.

The Journal of Financial Economic Policy publishes high quality peer reviewed research on financial economic policy issues. The journal is devoted to the advancement of the understanding of the entire spectrum of financial policy and control issues and their interactions to economic phenomena.

The first article is titled: Financial institutions mergers – a strategy choice of wealth maximisation and economic value. The study focuses shareholders’ value adjustment in response to financial institutions (FIs) merger announcements in the immediate event window and in the extended event window. The study also investigates accounting measures performance, comparison of post-merger to pre-merger, including several cash flow measures. The study examines FIs mergers orientations of diversification and focus create more value for shareholders.

The second article is titled: How bank regulations impact efficiency and performance? This study aims to examine the impact of regulation and other micro- and macro-economic factors on banks’ productivity growth. It investigates the impact of different regulatory reforms on banks’ performance of total factor productivity (TFP) and its component efficiencies, along with their association with bank-specific variables of profitability and equity, and with macro-level variables of economy and freedom.

Commenting on his achievements, Dr Mohamad Hassan said: ‘Publishing in peer reviewed journals is not an easy process, but it is worth doing as it is so rewarding. It takes at least several months get a confirmation of receipt of accepting the submitted draft. Following draft acceptance, it takes several additional months of correcting and adjusting drafts to become final drafts, and few more for typesetting and preparation for publication. However, this forms as part of an educational process. Not only in the process of presenting your research to a wider audience, but also from the comments you receive from peers and reviewers, and how they improve the quality of your research. I recommend all colleagues to present their research in international conferences before going for publication. This will enhance their networking and reach for co-authoring and they would receive comments that would contribute to elevating their paper caliber.’

Dr Mohamad Hassan went on to add: ‘The publication of these two articles carries a significance related to the socio-economic effect of the financial system resilience through its risk and return profiles with regards to their consolidation strategies and mergers. This is particularly important around the advancements we are witnessing in the financial technology (FinTech) and the speed of transactions and change of landscape with new services and products. Furthermore, such topics analyse FI performance and risk around FI crisis (2007-2011) in response to strategic orientation of mergers. This analysis is significantly essential as we are expecting a global financial distress in mid to late 2020.’

LSST’s Deputy CEO, Mr Mohammed Zaidi, added: ‘I commend Dr Mohamad Hassan on his published research achievements. His work has – and will –inspire countless students and staff at LSST and beyond in numerous positive ways. Further, the real value of published research is the knowledge community it creates and sustains.’

The links to the articles and their contributions are summarised below:

Financial institutions mergers: a strategy choice of wealth maximisation and economic value


A significant advancement over the current literature is in assessing mergers, not only for bank bidders but also for the three pillars FIs of the financial sector; banks, real-estate companies and investment companies’ mergers. It is an improvement over current finance literature because it deploys two different strategies in the analysis. At a univariate level, shareholder value creation and market reaction to merger announcements are examined over short (−5 or +5 days) and long (+230 days) windows of the event. Followed by regressing, the resultant CARs and BHARs over financial performance variables at the multivariate level.

How bank regulations impact efficiency and performance?


This paper contributes to the literature by examining the relationship between the implementation of regulatory standards and the performance of the banking sector following a structural model of the banking firm and the concept of optimisation. An additional contribution of this study is that it examines economies with different levels of income based on the gross national income per capita. The study summarises bank-specific data used to synthesise the banks’ productivity (inputs and outputs) and country-specific economic and regulatory compliance data over 19 years (1999-2017). The extent of this data set coverage makes it most recent and most conclusive of variables to provide a significant contribution to the literature on bank regulation and efficiency effect.

Leave your comments below and email the author of this article kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any related questions or to be put in touch with Dr Hassan.

Apple ignites digital poster, podcast and video creativity in LSST Birmingham students

LSST students showcasing their Apple certifications with Apple Creative Pros.

Photo: LSST

Global computing giant, Apple, ignites digital creativity in LSST Birmingham students during an exceptional private event hosted by Apple creatives at its flagship Birmingham store on 17 January 2020.

The event, coordinated by LSST’s marketing department, focused on skilled Apple staff training LSST students on poster creation for academic work, podcast creation for business and music editing for videos. Students went on to ask a series of thought-intensive questions about enhancing their own work for future business projects and concepts.

An Apple Creative Pro demonstrates music creation features for use on podcasts and videos. Photo: LSST

LSST Birmingham students learn about podcast creation. Photo: LSST

Vlad Vintu, a BA Business Management Foundation Year student, commenting on the event, said: ‘I am enormously grateful to the Apple staff as they ignited a creativity within me that I never knew I had. It was brilliant of Apple to host a private event for LSST students and to offer each one of us an irreplaceable Apple certificate. We can use what we have learned for both our academic work and careers.’

LSST Birmingham students listen to the music they have created for videos. Photo: LSST

Lana Salmon, a BA Business Management Y3 student, added: ‘The Apple staff we worked with were very talented and explained things very clearly. They really helped us learn how to make professional videos with music and posters to create professional effects. Many of us went in nervous but came out confident.’

LSST Birmingham students share video creation ideas. Photo: LSST

Mr Ali Jafar Zaidi, LSST’s Director of Marketing and Admissions, added: ‘Every student I’ve met at LSST is full of creativity. So, nurturing this is one of the most important things an educator can do. We feel that digital creativity makes our students better communicators and problem solvers. It prepares them to thrive in today’s business world — and that belonging to the future. In light of this, we look forward to working closely with Apple.’

Mohsin Riaz, Dean of LSST Birmingham, said: ‘Apple have humanised technology. I am comprehensively excited with the association between Apple and LSST. Apple is positively changing so many things by reinventing education and making substantial contributions to society and its communities.’

Apple Creative Pro staff with Lynnette Douglas, LSST’s Senior Welfare, Student Support and Careers Officer. Photo: LSST

Lynnette Douglas, LSST’s Senior Welfare, Student Support and Careers Officer, who attended the event, said: ‘I firmly believe that when students have more ways to express ideas, they have more ways to think. This allows them to see things differently and make connections that they perhaps would not have initially. Today’s Apple-led event has really ignited student creativity and enhanced their digital creative skills.’

Leave your comments below and email the author of this article kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any Apple related questions or to find out more on participating in similar events and interviews in the near future.

LSST’s Deputy CEO and British Airways’ Head of Brands & Marketing discuss customer experience and climate change

Smiles aboard! Hamish McVey, Head of Brands & Marketing, British Airways. Photo: British Airways, used with permission

LSST’s Deputy CEO, Mr Mohammed Zaidi (MZ), as part of LSST’s leadership series, speaks with Hamish McVey (HM), Head of Brands and Marketing, at British Airways, about customers, climate change and brand communications.

British Airways is a full service global airline and Hamish is responsible for defining the brand and communicating it consistently around the world by leading the brand strategy and delivery.

MZ: British Airways recently celebrated its 100th anniversary – a landmark in aviation! Congratulations on your centenary. How did you celebrate?

HM: A range of activities took place to mark British Airways’ centenary this year, including BA 2119; a programme exploring the future of fuels, the customer experience of the future and the aviation careers in the next 100 years.

Over the course of the year the company also marked the centenary by releasing several centenary-edition on-board products, such as a travel-sized marmite, a transatlantic IPA ‘Speedbird 100’ with Scottish craft brewery BrewDog and centenary edition amenity kits. On top of this, the airline has also painted 4 aircraft in retro-liveries (BOAC, BEA, Negus and Landor), with the BOAC liveried aircraft flying with the Red Arrows in this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo.

The airline delivered ‘100 Acts of Kindness’ for customers as part of their ‘BA Magic 100’ campaign. This included once-in-a-lifetime trips and reunions, upgrades, surprise proposals and money-can’t-buy experiences.

MZ: Flying is an exciting experience so how do you work hard to ensure British Airways customers enjoy it?

HM: British Airways is investing £6.5 billion for its customers over five years, taking delivery of 73 new aircraft including A350 and 787s, refurbishing its long-haul fleet with new cabins, introducing new, redesigned lounges, new dining across all cabins, new bedding and amenity kits, best quality onboard WiFi to every aircraft and access to power at every aircraft seat. The airline recently introduced its Club Suite, a new business class seat with direct aisle access on its A350 aircraft, which will be rolled out across the British Airways’ long-haul fleet over the next few years.

BA is investing in technology to improve customers’ journeys, with 70+ self-service bag drops, 200+ self-service check-in kiosks and biometric and self-boarding gates. British Airways is also the first and only airline to use the eco-friendly, emissions-free Mototok tugs.

Customer experience is improving at British Airways, with our Customer Journey Team and the new ‘Help Me’ page on ba.com. BA also offers a rewarding loyalty scheme for its customers (British Airways Executive Club, where customers can collect Avios points), regularly voted best loyalty scheme by Business Traveller.

MZ: British Airways is a strong business with a strong brand but how do you deliver for your customers in an ever-changing world?

HM: British Airways is investing in training (apprenticeships, graduate schemes, internships, work experience – new crew devices, new uniforms, a reward and recognition scheme, new intranet, etc) and investing in world class customer service training to deliver for their customers in an ever-changing world. 28,500 colleagues are receiving more customer service training over next year. BA was recently voted ‘best airline staff in Europe’ by Skytrax 2019.

British Airways has also been researching the Future of Flying. BA 2119: Flight of the Future, a first-of-its-kind exhibition looking ahead to the next 100 years of flying, was open throughout August 2019 at the Saatchi gallery in collaboration with the Royal College of Art. The research seeks to push the boundaries of imagination and explore how future generations will circumnavigate the globe in a world of advanced jet propulsion, hyper personalisation, automation, AI, modular transport, sustainability, health and entertainment.

British Airways celebrates its centenary. Hamish McVey, Head of Brands & Marketing, British Airways. Photo: British Airways, used with permission

MZ: Climate change is possibly the most urgent environmental challenge facing the aviation industry. How is British Airways determined to find solutions to address carbon emissions?

HM: British Airways is committed to exploring and harnessing the latest developments in airline innovation. IAG, British Airways’ parent company, will invest a total of $400m on alternative sustainable fuel development over the next 20 years. From the very start of this year (1 January), British Airways has also begun offsetting carbon emissions on all its flights within the UK, as part of the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Read more here.

British Airways is the first airline in Europe to invest in building a plant, with renewable fuels company Velocys, which converts organic household waste into renewable jet fuel to power its fleet. British Airways has also invested in 18 new aircraft which are up to 20 per cent more fuel efficient and with Mototok, their new automated pushback devices, airside emissions and fuel consumption have been reduced.

British Airways has further been researching sustainable fuels, launching the BA 2119: Future of Fuels challenge in collaboration with Cranfield University, which called on British universities to develop a new or different pathway to achieve global leadership in the development of sustainable aviation fuels.

Last year British Airways’ short-haul fleet recently topped Heathrow’s ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ league table, based on its environmental performance from January to March 2019. Read more here.

MZ: The Airbus A350 – the latest addition to your fleet family – sounds like a game-changer. What is so good about it?

HM: Our new A350 features British Airways’ latest generation business class seat, Club Suite, which offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy and luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Boasting 40 per cent more storage, including a vanity unit and mirror, WiFi, enviable 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens*, high definition gate-to-gate programming, and PC / USB power; every aspect of British Airways’ Club Suite has been designed for today’s customer.

As well as a new 56-seat Club World cabin, the three-cabin A350 will feature the latest World Traveller Plus cabin (56 seats) with new furnishings including a plush new pillow and warm quilt, new amenity kits and an enhanced service and an improved dining experience.

The A350 aircraft itself will also promote a feeling of well-being, space and calm due to its reduced noise levels, high ceilings and ambient lighting which is intended to compliment the time of day and outside light. Customers will leave their flight feeling rested thanks to higher levels of humidity and refreshed air as the cabin pressure is equivalent to an altitude of just 6,000 feet. There are also environmental benefits to flying on the state-of the-art A350 as 25 per cent lower fuel burn significantly reduces CO2 emissions.

MZ: The premium leisure, as a sector, has been rapidly increasing in size. How is British Airways increasing its offering for this segment?

HM: British Airways is set to deliver significant changes to the onboard product and service in its First, Club, and World Traveller Plus cabins as part of its £6.5bn investment for customers. This includes new amenity kits and improvements to the on-board dining experience.

The airline’s First customers will be offered super-soft, sophisticated new male and female loungewear designed exclusively by luxury British fashion brand, Temperley London, coupled with bespoke British Airways amenity bags. First travellers will also be able to enjoy the new menus on elegant bone china crockery, designed exclusively for the airline by high-end British tableware designer William Edwards, accompanied by contemporary cutlery from Studio William. The airline’s fine wines and champagnes, as well as soft drinks, will also be served from new Dartington glassware.

British Airways has also recently taken delivery of their new A350 aircraft, featuring the new Club Suite.

New amenity kits using material from recycled plastic bottles are also now available in the airline’s World Traveller Plus cabin. More comfort will also be delivered through a stylish new quilt and cushion with the herringbone design that is synonymous with the pattern that runs throughout the airline’s First cabin.

MZ: Notably British Airways has grown at Gatwick Airport – including its long-haul services – is this change coming to Heathrow too?

HM: We are always reviewing our route network adding new routes from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City. We are currently operating our largest route network in more than a decade with 15 new routes launched in 2019 (please also see answer to What new geographies you are targeting in 2019?).

So far BA has announced 6 new routes launching from London Heathrow in 2020, to destinations in Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Montenegro, Turkey and Oregon.

MZ: How do you feel about British Airways’ punctuality? Does it need to improve?

HM: British Airways has the best punctuality of the five major short-haul airlines from London. We are always investing in new technology in order to improve customer experience and our operations, for example, with our improved biometric technology and the 70+ self-service bag drops and 200+ self-service check-in kiosks.

The company’s investment in fully-electric, remote-controlled Mototok devices, which have been used to swiftly manoeuvre the airline’s 140-strong short-haul fleet out to the runway for take-off, has also reduced pushback delays by 70%.

The airline’s Chairman and CEO Alex Cruz recently spoke at the AI Summit at London Tech Week to address using AI to improve the airline’s operational efficiency and maintenance. Read more here.

An instantly recognisable tail fin. Photo: British Airways, used with permission

MZ: What new geographies you are targeting in 2020?

HM: Operating one of the most extensive international scheduled airline route networks together with its joint business agreement, codeshare and franchise partners, British Airways flies to more than 200 destinations in almost 80 countries on a fleet of around 300 aircraft.

British Airways launched 15 new routes in 2019 including Pittsburgh, Charleston, Islamabad and Osaka.

So far BA has announced new routes launching in 2020 to Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Montenegro, Turkey, Spain and Oregon.

British Airways new routes can be found here: https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/flights-and-holidays/flights/new-routes

MZ: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure learning from the British Airways brand. Lastly, what take-home message do you have for LSST’s students?

HM: British Airways has a number of apprenticeships, placements and work experience schemes. We’re looking for enthusiastic, aviation-loving students who are highly motivated.

British Airways is a world-class airline with a proud history. But our sector is changing fast. Data and new technologies make serving our 45 million customers both simpler and more complicated. Regulation and sustainability add to the complexity. Customer needs and expectations are ever-evolving. And in this shifting landscape, we need to tackle many challenges that are industry-wide or unique to us.

So we’re seeking agile-minded, forward-thinking graduates and undergraduates. Dynamic high-performers who can act fast, think smart, make us lean and reap the rewards of teamwork. People who will stand up to whatever’s thrown at them. And then do what it takes to guarantee success for the business, our customers and each other.

Find out more about British Airways careers here: https://careers.ba.com/

LSST students, join the debate and comment below. What are your views on the British Airways interview?

Please email kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments or to find out more about the work of British Airways.

LSST’s 2019 London Met winter graduates praised for distinctive creativity and ingeniousness

Renata Carvalho, LSST’s Student Union President, graduates in business with distinction

LSST’s winter graduates were praised at London Metropolitan University’s Winter Graduation ceremony and recognised for their distinctive creativity and ingeniousness on Monday 2nd December, at the bespoke Barbican Centre.

The School was delighted to welcome back graduating students across its range of London Metropolitan University accredited programmes.

Graduation Day is a time when LSST students can revisit the fantastic achievements that they have accomplished since they first arrived and how much they have developed as an individual and as part of a thriving academic community.

Professor Lynn Dobbs, London Met’s Vice-Chancellor, opens the grand graduation ceremony. Photo: LSST

LSST students and their families travelled to London from all over the world to attend and it was a wonderful celebration of their academic accomplishments and hard work. The graduation ceremony was followed by a drinks reception where the new graduates revived old friendships and celebrated with family, peers and LSST staff.

Over 75 LSST students from subject areas such as business, public health, hospitality and computing took to the stage to shake hands with Professor Lynn Dobbs, London Metropolitan University’s Vice-Chancellor, before receiving their degrees.

Watch event highlights here:


LSST’s SU President Renata Carvalho, who graduated with a distinction in business, said: ‘Today is a life-changing moment that has given me a great deal of happiness. I feel very privileged to be part of such an amazing and bespoke ceremony by London Metropolitan University. I thank everyone at LSST for the career-guiding opportunities that they have provided me with.’

Watch Renata’s reaction to the event here:


Humeera Bashir, Public Health and Social Care Degree distinction graduate, said: ‘My course was demanding but with the encouragement from my lecturers I was able to really triumph and develop my academic skills. I am just so grateful to them all. I feel super proud today and look forward to what the future brings.’

Excitement and joy. LSST students await to be called to the stage. Photo: LSST

Commenting on the ceremony, Mr Syed Zaidi, CEO and Founder of LSST, announced: ‘We are honoured to have had you as LSST students. It is my great honour to congratulate and commend those of you who have so devotedly served LSST. Your graduation is a landmark in your lives and with the skills you have acquired with us, you are endowed to find new opportunities with the confidence that you can contribute to all your hard work. I am confident that you are ready for the next big step in your lives and that you can confidently overcome many challenges. Everyone is immensely proud of you and we are sure you will continue to make us proud in the near future.’

Mr Syed Zaidi went on to add: ‘I wish to thank Vice-Chancellor Professor Lynn Dobbs for her exemplary leadership that drives London Met to ever greater heights.’

A sea of graduates. Photo: LSST

Posing for the camera. LSST students smoothly grab a photo opportunity. Photo: LSST

A happy and proud moment. Photo: LSST

The result of determination and hard work. Photo: LSST

Friends forever. Photo: LSST

Leave your congratulatory comments below or email the author of this article kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions.

Find out more about LSST’s London Metropolitan University accredited courses: www.lsst.ac/courses

LSST students interview Met Police Assistant Commissioner for Frontline Policing about knife crime

LSST student Loxandra Goldings (L) and LSST SU President Renata Carvalho (R) inside Scotland Yard with Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons. Photo: LSST

LSST students were praised for taking part in a knife crime concerns interview with Mark Simmons, Met Police Assistant Commissioner for Frontline Policing, on 07 November 2019.

Renata Carvalho, LSST’s SU President, and Loxandra Goldings, a Health and Social Science student at LSST Elephant and Castle, were given an outstanding opportunity to visit New Scotland Yard and interview the Assistant Commissioner with a series of thought-intensive questions about knife crime issues and concerns.

Watch the full interview here: youtube.com/watch?v=GkxNc3p9bMs&t=202s

Commenting on the event, Renata Carvalho, LSST’s SU President, said: ‘This is my second visit to Scotland Yard and it is always an immense privilege to question senior police staff on the causes, challenges and concerns surrounding knife crime. We look forward to working closely with Scotland Yard and sharing our anti-knife crime messages with LSST’s student community across the country.’

Loxandra Goldings added: ‘Following today’s event, I am inspired with the work of New Scotland Yard. Clearly a complete-community approach to knife-crime is needed and I look forward to working closely with LSST’s SU to enforce anti-knife crime messages.’

(L-R) Kunal Chan Mehta, Loxandra Goldings, AC Mark Simmons and Renata Carvalho. Photo: LSST

Mr Syed Zaidi, LSST’s CEO, added: ‘We are extremely proud of Renata and Loxandra who have energetically put forward thought-provoking knife crime questions to the Assistant Commissioner. They have conducted themselves in a very sophisticated and diplomatic manner. I thank Kunal Chan Mehta for organising this bespoke event in light of his former employment with the Met Police, Prison and Probation services.’

Further information:

Tackling knife crime is a priority for the Met. Whether you want to find out how you can help yourself, your friends or family you can find practical help and advice here: https://www.met.police.uk/StopKnifeCrime

If you or someone you know has information that may help prevent a violent crime, or help an investigation, but are not comfortable speaking directly to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They do not ask your name or trace your call.

Anyone who has information about violence or knife crime can visit www.fearless.org where they can pass on information anonymously. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity and is also independent of the police.

If you need help or information to support someone you suspect is involved in knife crime, or you want assistance yourself, then you can visit www.knifefree.co.uk

Please email the author of this article kunal.mehta@lsst.acor any questions or comments or to find out more about participating in similar interviews.

LSST students, join the debate and comment below: What are your views on the knife crime interview?

LSST’s Deputy CEO explores drone technology with The Royal Air Force and Civil Aviation Authority

Image: Nasir Bashir, LSST Marketing

LSST’s Deputy CEO, Mr Mohammed Zaidi, emphasises that the escalating use of drones – or remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs) – in UK airspace is causing more nervousness than excitement. Whilst businesses – across a range of sectors – are excited about a scope of drone benefits, the general public remain nervous about safety and privacy.

LSST’s Deputy CEO speaks with The Royal Air Force (RAF) – the UK’s aerial warfare force – and The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – the UK’s aviation regulator – about the genuine opportunities and drawbacks of drone technology. Focusing on a detailed assessment of the impacts of drones, LSST’s Deputy CEO explores the economic potential and wider implications of drones for the UK:

What research is needed to ensure that drones are used in an effective, ethical and safe way?

RAF Spokesperson:

The UK’s use of RPAS will always comply with applicable international law, including (in an armed conflict) international humanitarian law, following principles of distinction, humanity, proportionality and military necessity. The UK’s clearly defined Rules of Engagement are formulated on this basis.

The same strict Rules of Engagement that govern the use of conventional military aircraft also apply to RPAS and targets are always positively identified as legitimate military objectives.

The UK meets the requirements to seek to protect civilians under International Humanitarian Law. UK policy includes robust criteria on establishing positive identification and requires commanders to do everything feasible to verify that the target is a military objective. UK Targeting Directives and Rules of Engagement, which are approved by Ministers, provide clear direction for commanders on this policy, which is constantly reviewed in light of changing circumstances.

UK Reaper aircraft are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft pilots. Our professional pilots adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict and UK Rules of Engagement. The decision to release a weapon is subject to the same considerations whether remotely piloted or not. Every effort, which includes in some circumstances deciding not to release weapons, is made to ensure the risk of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, is minimised.

It should be noted that RAF Reaper (and for the future Protector) is not an autonomous system and the aircraft do not have the capability to employ weapons unless commanded to do so by professional pilots. UK military personnel are always involved in the decision to employ and in the act of releasing weapons. There is no intent within the MOD to develop systems that operate without human input in the control and weapon command chains.

CAA Spokesperson:

It is important that regulators and industry work together to ensure drones are used safely and are safe to use.

Do you believe that RPAs will become increasingly available to journalism in the future despite the use of aerial platforms – that include helicopters and hot air balloons – not being new to journalism? It seems that ‘drone technology’ is almost as old as aviation itself.

RAF Spokesperson:

The RAF do not use RPAS for journalism. The vast majority of our RPAS operations are for surveillance purposes – RPAS persistence provides essential intelligence contributing to the safety of allied forces on the ground.

The largest remotely piloted aircraft flying today is the US Air Force Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk. Its capabilities are a closely guarded secret despite it having a wingspan of an airliner. Are you able to shed any light on what this machine actually does?

RAF Spokesperson:

The RAF do not operate the RQ-4, however, plenty of information is available on this platform from open source: https://www.military.com/equipment/rq-4-global-hawk

It is not just gigantic RPAs is it? There is now a swarm of insect-sized nano-bots – somewhat ‘tech-creatures’ of the science lab. The Norwegian-developed Black Hornet, operated by the British Army in Afghanistan, is a 10cm long nano-drone weighing only 16g. But will they be so small as to ‘be exempt from all regulations’?

RAF Spokesperson:

I think you are referring to Black Hornet, used by UK forces abroad from 2011, this was retired from service in 2017.

Drones are now being routinely used by governments all over the world and the advantages of RPAs are significant – but what needs to be done to ensure that the disadvantages are minimized? For example, drug cartels have been using drones to smuggle significant quantities of illegal drugs.

RAF Spokesperson:

The RAF are continuing to significantly improve our RPAS capabilities by introducing the Protector RG Mk1.

The RAF Protector RG Mk1 will provide significantly enhanced capabilities. UK modifications include enhanced data links and UK weapon payloads (Brimstone 3A and Paveway IV). Protector is considered a technological step-change with regards to RPAS capability, delivering unique intelligence gathering capability and increased endurance. The Protector is designed with anti-icing and lightning protection ensuring an unmatched ability to operate in adverse weather conditions and is also the world’s first RPAS to be designed, built and certified against stringent NATO and UK safety standards.

The aircraft will contribute to Homeland and global Defence tasks across the spectrum of operations, including but not limited to, military aid to civil authorities (search and rescue, disaster monitoring or flood prevention activities), and armed intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition at long range and for long periods until beyond the mid-2030s. The UK is also heading European efforts to enable seamless integration of RPAS within civilian airspace through close involvement with the CAA.

CAA Spokesperson:

Enforcement powers need to keep pace with technological development. Legislation has already been introduced to tackle the misuse of drones. That legislation will need to be kept under review to adapt to new challenges.

While our definition of drones is typically limited to unmanned vehicles, certain forms of autonomous transportation should be considered as ‘drone transportation’ too?

CAA Spokesperson:

Regulators across the globe are focusing on the development of urban air mobility vehicles (manned and unmanned). Regulations will need to be introduced to oversee this emerging technology.

In 2018, Gatwick airport was closed for three days straight. The pandemonium was caused by disputed ‘drone sightings’. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and innocent people arrested. The end result was the introduction of drone detection systems in the UK – will this be enough to prevent intentional attacks on airports?

RAF Spokesperson:

A small team of RAF personnel were deployed to Gatwick Airport in response to a request from Sussex Police following reports of repeated drone encroachments to the airport authority airspace. The military support was requested and provided under ‘Military Aid to Civil Authorities’ (MACA); the RAF continue to stand ready to assist the Civilian authorities if and when requested. Responsibility for investigating the sightings and security at Gatwick Airport fell to Sussex Police and the relevant airport authorities. Further information relating to events at the airport should be sought from Sussex Police.

CAA Spokesperson:

The police are responsible for ensuring the security of UK airports. Legislation has been introduced to tackle the misuse of drones close to airports.

LSST’s marketing team would like to thank the generous time and support from The Royal Air Force and Civil Aviation Authority.

LSST students, join the debate and comment below. What are your views on drone technology? An opportunity or threat – or both?

Please email the author of this article kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments or to find out more about the work of The RAF or CAA.

LSST Birmingham students speak with LEGO Group about building a digital culture

L to R: LSST Birmingham LEGO aficionados Ionut Bosinvinau and Sevda Ablez, both BA (Hons) Business Management students, and Lynnette Douglas, Senior Student Support, Careers and Welfare Officer

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of toys – and one of the world’s most respected brands – LEGO has given LSST Birmingham students a distinctive and unequalled opportunity to learn about its system-in-play-centric organisation.

Through creative play, the LEGO Group has inspired and developed the builders of tomorrow and nurtured skills such as creativity, problem solving, self-awareness and empathy – all necessary for children to build the better world of tomorrow.

The instantly recognisable LEGO brick is an important product that was – in its present form – launched in 1958 in Denmark. The family run company has come a long way from a small carpenter’s workshop to a respected modern global enterprise.

Instantly recognisable LEGO bricks. The name LEGO is an abbreviation of the two Danish words ‘leg godt’, meaning ‘play well’. Photo used with permission. ©2019 The LEGO Group.

LSST Birmingham Business Management students Sevda Ablez and Ionut Bosinvinau speak with LEGO Group’s Camilla Pedersen, Associate Manager, Corporate Communications, about its philosophy and building a digital future. The LEGO aficionados go on to reflect on their bespoke LEGO-experience:

1. What is the LEGO philosophy?

At the LEGO Group, it is our mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We aim to do this through providing children with fun and creative play products and experiences of the highest quality and safety. All LEGO play experiences are based on the underlying philosophy of learning and development through play.

2. How is LEGO committed to caring for the environment and the society that children will inherit?

At the LEGO Group, we are committed to playing our part in helping to build a sustainable future, and through the power of play inspire the children of today to become the builders of tomorrow. We know that children learn when they play – and that play helps develop critical 21st century skills, such as creativity and collaboration.

We continue to work towards achieving zero impact operations through increasing waste and energy efficiency and balancing energy usage with renewables. And, we will continue to increase the use of sustainable materials in our products and packaging without compromising quality or safety.

3. 2018 was a disruptive year for the toy industry. How did LEGO do?

We have full comment on this question in our Annual Report. For more information, please see: https://www.lego.com/en-gb/aboutus/news/2019/february/the-lego-group-returns-to-growth-in-2018

Based on the world-famous LEGO® brick and the philosophy of Learning-through-Play, the LEGO Group provides unique play experiences for children of all ages. Photo used with permission. ©2019 The LEGO Group.

4. Digitalisation is changing nearly every aspect of our daily lives, so how is LEGO dealing with this?

Digitalisation is impacting all aspects of our business, and it is reshaping the retail landscape, and how children play. But it is also offering exciting opportunities and creating new ways for us to bring LEGO play to more children around the world.

Through our products we hope to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, and we know that in order to deliver on this agenda, we need to stay attuned with the latest trends and digital development. However, the LEGO brick will always remain the cornerstone of our core business, and we see digital play as an exciting opportunity to supplement and enhance the LEGO experience and make it more relevant to even more children.

5. Your landmark Play Well Report highlights that children see no distinction between physical and digital play – what about parents?

Unlike their children, digital technology was largely absent from their own childhoods, meaning that they do not experience the same form of fluid play where real-world, imaginary, and digital play experiences are united across time and space.

LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1943. The LEGO Group has passed from father to son and is now owned by the founder’s grandchild – Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Photo used with permission. ©2019 The LEGO Group.

6. What organisational values are fundamental and distinctive to the LEGO Group since its founding?

At the LEGO Group, we have six underlying values – Imagination, Creativity, Fun, Learning, Caring, and Quality. These values are extremely important to us. Not only because they define who we are as a company, but because they also define what we stand for and guide us in our work towards our ambitions and our mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.

An aerial shot of the infamous LEGO House in Denmark. Photo used with permission. ©2019 The LEGO Group.

LEGO all the way: Ionut Bosinvinau, BA (Hons) Business Management, LSST Birmingham

“I am really grateful to Camilla Pedersen at The LEGO Group for answering my questions and also to LSST Marketing for inviting me to such an impressive opportunity. I thank Lynnette Douglas at LSST Birmingham for giving me the confidence to get my thoughts on LEGO together. For me, studying at LSST is a rewarding and enriching experience and this interview will stay with me forever and has made my family and friends very proud. I have learned so much and LEGO is, in my view, one of the best examples of a company that is committed to delivering on corporate responsibility and by doing the right thing! This is why so many people buy LEGO products. By listening to the LEGO responses to my questions I have learned that the company is constantly innovating and striving for the best. I would love to work for LEGO one day as it creates, invents and has fun whilst doing so. I will be happy to speak with any LSST student about my views on LEGO and LSST Marketing team has said it will support me in doing so.”

Ionut Bosinvinau, BA (Hons) Business Management, LSST Birmingham

Building a bright future: Sevda Ablez, BA (Hons) Business Management, LSST Birmingham

“I am really thrilled that LEGO Group seniors kindly took time out to answer my questions. I thank LSST’s Marketing team for setting this up and supporting me. I thank Lynnette – our Senior Student Support, Careers and Welfare Officer – for all her encouragement. I have found that while others in the toy industry are struggling – the LEGO Group is way ahead as it has focused on the popularity of digital toys and devices. I am personally aware that that play is key to a child’s development. Play helps children to learn problem-solving and to be creative. Further, children can gain these valuable life skills whilst they have fun. I believe that every student at LSST has a creative urge, the desire to design something. Who knows how many of us played with LEGO as children – and how much of our creativity is down to those bricks? In any case, I feel thankful that I did grow up playing LEGO as I feel it has helped me!”

Sevda Ablez, BA (Hons) Business Management, LSST Birmingham

Leave your comments below or email the author of this article kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any LEGO Group questions or to find out more on participating in similar events and interviews in the near future.

Find out more about the LEGO Group here: www.lego.com/en-gb/aboutus/lego-group

Kraft Heinz Director of Corporate and Government Affairs speaks with LSST students about leadership, sustainability and careers

Nigel Dickie Photo Source: Kraft Heinz (used with permission)

A globally trusted producer of instantly-recognisable foods, The Kraft Heinz Company provides quality, taste and nutrition for all eating occasions whether at home, in restaurants or on the go.

The Kraft Heinz Company, led by a world class Board of Directors, has an unparalleled record for performance and for investing in world-class brands.

LSST students were given a bespoke and exceptional opportunity to put their leadership, sustainability and career questions to Dr Nigel Dickie – Kraft Heinz Director of Corporate and Government Affairs for Europe, Middle East & Africa.

LSST student interviewers: Renata Carvalho, SU President; Angel Terjek, Business Foundation Degree student, Robert Beijnariu, Business student, Alperton London campus; Taja Mabery, Public Health and Health Promotion student, Elephant and Castle London campus; Adrianne Reid-Simpson, Public Health and Health Promotion student, Elephant and Castle London campus; Suzanne Knight, Public Health and Health Promotion student, Elephant and Castle London campus; Cornelia Den Breejen, Computing student, LSST Luton campus; and Claudia Anania, Business student, LSST Birmingham campus. Interview coordinators: Ali Jafar Zaidi, Marketing and Admissions Director, LSST, and Kunal Chan Mehta, LSST’s Senior Lecturer and Press Officer.

1. Please tell us about your journey into Kraft Heinz. What inspired you to start at Kraft Heinz?

With a BSc and PhD in Nutrition from London University, I started my career working for Unilever as company Nutritionist. I soon found the communications part of the role to be the most inspiring and also the most challenging. With that in mind, I changed my career path and in 1985 joined Counsel, part of the Huntsworth international communications group, and was appointed Managing Director in 1992.

Whilst in this role I was fortunate to gain extensive international food and drink communications experience including work for clients such as Heinz, PepsiCo, Diageo, Marks & Spencer and Sodexho.

I joined Heinz as Director, Corporate and Government Affairs in 2005. And then following the merger of Kraft Foods and Heinz in 2015, I was appointed as Director of Corporate & Government Affairs for Kraft Heinz Europe, Middle East & Africa with responsibility for all external communications and government relations. The journey in the last four years has been the most exciting yet.

2. What does your current role as The Director of Corporate & Government Affairs involve?

Essentially looking after the reputation of our brands and business with our multiple stakeholders from Government, Regulators, NGOs, the media, our customers and of course our consumers. It’s about amplifying and protecting. The role is very varied and no two days are ever the same which is why it’s so engaging and interesting.

3. How do you inspire your people to work at their best?

The first step in being an inspirational leader is to make people feel wanted. Beyond that, inspiration depends on reaching people as individuals. Here are a few practices for starters that you can put into action today.

• Follow through on commitments and keep promises.

• Focus on achieving the most important goals without getting distracted.

• Display enthusiasm and energy.

• Help the team understand the “why” behind big decisions.

• Exhibit genuine concern for people.

• Have high standards and hold the team to them.

• Provide clarity in all communication.

• Treat everyone with respect and dignity.

• Take time to celebrate success.

4. What one word best describes how you work?


5. Is there one product you favour over the others? Please reveal all.

Although Heinz is famous for its 57 varieties as of today there are around 4,000 around the world. Tough to choose just one. I love Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Cream of Tomato Soup and Heinz Beanz. I grew up with Beanz Meanz Heinz.

6. What is your smartest work-related shortcut?

Creating rituals and routines.

The Kraft Heinz Company has an unparalleled portfolio of more than 200 powerful and iconic brands. Photo source: Kraft Heinz (used with permission)[/caption]

7. How is the Kraft Heinz Company dedicated to the sustainable health of its people and our planet?

You can read our current CSR report at the link here:


We believe “Growing A Better World” means working to improve our planet, its people and the communities where we work and live.

When Kraft Heinz was formed in 2015, we prioritized corporate citizenship and sustainability efforts. We began with stakeholder engagement and a materiality analysis, and leveraged our findings to focus on high-priority issues in areas where we can make the greatest impact.

Our goal is to build trust among our Company’s broad set of stakeholders by promoting socially responsible practices across our supply chain, setting aggressive environmental goals, improving the products we sell and making impactful advancements in communities – all with a commitment to transparency and two-way dialogue.

8. As a socially responsible global food company, how is The Kraft Heinz Company committed to reducing its environmental footprint – and protecting the planet’s natural resources for future generations?

We have implemented a universal process to achieve our sustainability goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, solid landfill waste and water consumption. From our 2015 baseline, we have pledged to achieve the following in our manufacturing facilities by 2020:

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15%

Reduce energy consumption by 15%

Reduce water consumption by 15%

Reduce solid waste sent to landfill by 15%

Last year we expanded our environmental commitments to include sustainable packaging and carbon reduction, with the aim to make 100% of our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025; and increase usage of recycled materials; and pledges to set science-based emissions reduction targets

9. What does the company mean when it says it is investing in world-class brands and long-term value creation?

The Kraft Heinz Company is revolutionizing the food industry – we will be the most profitable food company powered by the most talented people with unwavering commitment to our communities, leading brands and highest product quality in every category in which we compete.

As a global powerhouse, Kraft Heinz represents over $26 billion in revenue and is the 5th largest food and beverage company in the world. At Kraft Heinz, to be the BEST food company, growing a BETTER world is more than a dream – it is our GLOBAL VISION. To be the best, we want the best – best brands, best practices and, most importantly, the best people.

10. Kraft Heinz is transforming the food industry with bold thinking and unprecedented results. What type of talent is the company looking for?

We have a very strong company culture, which is very important to us. It’s what makes us different. For this reason we are looking for talent with the following characteristics:

Ownership – Thinks and acts like an owner

Intellect – Data driven insights and results. Simplifies and Solves

Intensity – Proactive and self-driven to add value

Courage – Thinks big and makes bold choices

Engagement – Attracts, retains, motivates talent

Learning Agility – Potential to work in any function

Delivers – Output metrics as the ultimate measure

11. What advice do you have for LSST’s students?

Ask a lot of questions and talk to as many people as you can at a company you’re interested in. Never forget, companies are not only evaluating you, you are also evaluating them. Find out what is the right fit for you.

Please email the author of this article kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments on this article or to find out more on participating in similar events and interviews.

To find out more about the Kraft Heinz company visit: https://www.kraftheinzcompany.com/

LSST’s 2019 UWL graduates congratulated for breadth, inventiveness and rigor

At LSST, Graduation Day marks the end of one life chapter and the start of the next. It is a time when our students take a look back at what they have accomplished since they first arrived at LSST and how they have changed and developed – as an individual and as a part of a community.

Photo Source: LSST

This year’s majestic UWL graduation ceremony, held at the spectacular site of Twickenham Stadium, celebrated the breath, inventiveness and rigor of over 100 LSST UWL 2019 graduates from LSST campuses across the country.

The ceremony is a collective time for celebrating the civic-commitment championed by LSST’s students across the country. LSST is honoured by all of its students’ accomplishments and maintains that its collective student effort improves year on year.

Photo Source: LSST

Alina Emanuela Kiriac, a business graduate, speaking about her experiences said: ‘LSST has taught me to be confident and ambitious! My life-changing vocational journey and experience is down to my amazing lecturers who I will always stay in touch with. I thank LSST for helping me find my passion and to think globally.’

Photo source: LSST

Mohammad Riaz, a business graduate, added: ‘I have learned so much from my time at LSST. I experienced so much from learning the skills to analyse hard problems through to having a resolute respect for the facts and the truth. It really is true to say that so many lessons I’ve learned at LSST were not just from my academic modules.’

Mr Syed Zaidi, CEO and Founder of LSST, announced: ‘It is my great honour to congratulate those of you who have faithfully and energetically served LSST and, by doing so, have reached an important landmark in your lives. LSST has taught you to live your own life – not the one that others have planned for you – so, go forth, remain aspirant and take a part of LSST with you. But never forget the moralities of tolerance and respect that you have established with us. Live these! Hold them close! Everyone is enormously proud of you today and we are sure you will continue to make us proud of you incessantly.’

Mr Syed Zaidi went on to add: ‘I wish to thank Vice Chancellor Professor Peter John for his leadership and vision that continues to drive UWL to ever greater heights. UWL continues to set new standards in the field of vocational education.’

Mr Mohammed Zaidi, Deputy CEO of LSST, added: ‘Along with your friends and your family, we all are rightly proud of you and are delighted to celebrate your achievements and academic acumen. Do include LSST in your future plans and goals. Do not become a stranger – you are always welcome back to share your success with current students. By working together, we really can accomplish great things!’

Photo Source: LSST

Professor Peter John, Vice Chancellor of UWL, said: ‘We welcome guests and staff to celebrate the successes of graduates from our accredited courses with LSST. UWL is proud to be the Career University, with a mission to inspire our students to become innovative and creative professionals and connect them to exciting and rewarding careers.’

Professor Anthony Woodman, Deputy Vice Chancellor of UWL, added: ‘We wish LSST’s UWL graduates every success in the future and remain convinced that they will use their new knowledge and skills to make a positive contribution within their workplace and the community.’

Photo Source: LSST

This year’s graduation comes at the end of an encouraging period for LSST in which it has achieved its highest number of student applications across its London Alperton, London Elephant and Castle, Luton and Birmingham campuses and continues to remain one of the most industry-connected and recognised HE providers in the country.

Photo Source: LSST

LSST students discuss nanotechnology with University of Cambridge professors

The world-renowned Cambridge University NanoPhotonics Centre was set up in 2007 to explore how new materials can be created, in which the interaction between light and matter is altered to produce useful new effects.

Students from LSST London, Luton and Birmingham campuses were given a bespoke opportunity to discuss the methodology behind designing the smallest pixels yet created – a million times smaller than those in smartphones – with Professor Jeremy Baumberg, Head of Group, and Dr Hyeon-Ho Jeong, Research Associate, at the Cambridge University NanoPhotonics Centre.

LSST student interviewers: Renata Carvalho, SU President; Angel Terjek, Y2 Business Foundation (LSST London); Humeera Bashir, Y2, Public Health and Social Care student (LSST London); Lucian Catalin Birarutu; Y1 Business Management (LSST Luton) and Aleha Begum, Y2 Business Management (LSST Birmingham).

1. What was the inspiration behind the research?

It has been a long-held dream to mimic the colour-changing skin of octopus or squid, allowing people or objects to disappear into the natural background, but making large-area flexible display screens is still prohibitively expensive because they are currently constructed from highly precise multiple layers.

2. How have the smallest pixels yet created – been created?

At the centre of the pixels is a tiny particle of gold a few billionths of a metre across. The grain sits on top of a reflective surface, trapping light in the gap in between. Surrounding each grain is a thin sticky coating which changes chemically when electrically switched, causing the pixel to change colour across the spectrum.

3. Were there any major challenges faced during the research and, if so, how were these overcome?

The major challenge lies in material engineering, especially the solution chemical process. The strong support from the research team from NanoPhotonics Centre and other collaborating groups across the University helped us to take forward the project.

4. How can the pixels enable a host of new application possibilities?

The pixels can be seen in bright sunlight and because they do not need constant power to keep their set colour, have an energy performance that make large areas feasible and sustainable. They could enable a host of new application possibilities such as building-sized display screens, architecture which can switch off solar heat load, active camouflage clothing and coatings, as well as tiny indicators for coming internet-of-things devices.

5. How durable are the pixels compared with current display technology found in mobile phones?

Our current test result is up to 3 months, which is shorter compared to commercial mobile phone pixels. But we haven’t optimised the device to the best. We believe they could last as long as years if proper device design and material engineering are made.

6. Wouldn’t the pressure inside the aerosol spray impact the integrity of the gold particles?

As far as we know, the polymer-coated gold particles are quite stable during aerosol spray.

7. What impact do the pixels have in regard to light pollution?

The displays made by these pixels are the reflective type. They use ambient light like sunlight during the daytime to generate colours, so they will not lead to extra light pollution.

8. Can you elaborate on the application of plasmonic nanoparticles in the effective treatment of cancer?

Plasmonic nanoparticles can be heated remotely by light to damage/destroy cancerous cells and tissues.

9. Who do you partner with – and are you seeking new partners?

We are now looking for partners to develop the technology further.

10. Can this system of flexible display with multiple layers be adjusted and used for more advanced and complex surfaces? Perhaps we will see military personnel wearing ‘invisible cloaks’ in future?

This system can be utilised to any 3D surface if the surface can be coated with plasmonic metal to function as a mirror. ‘Invisible cloaks’ is possible but need more efforts.

11. What should the realm of NanoPhotonics explore next?

NanoPhotonics explores how new materials can be created, in which the interaction between light and matter is fundamentally altered to produce fascinating and useful new effects. We are interested in exploring both new sciences in nanoscale and novel applications to make nanoscience into real life.

Find out more about the amazing work of the NanoPhotonics centre here: https://www.np.phy.cam.ac.uk/

Please email at kunal.mehta@lsst.ac for any questions or comments on this article and to find out more about participating in similar events and interviews.

LSST students, join the debate and comment below: What are your views on the astonishing research undertaken by the NanoPhotonics Centre?

LSST Luton students raise money for Keech Hospice Care

By Kunal Chan Mehta, Senior Lecturer and Public Relations Officer

L-R: Malina Badea, SU Coordinator, Katie Richardson, Regional & Events Fundraising Coordinator and Cornelia den Brejeen, SU Vice-President

LSST Luton students and staff have raised an astonishing £411.25 for the Keech Hospice Care in Luton. Malina Badea, LSST SU Luton coordinator, and Cornelia den Brejeen, LSST SU Luton vice-president, helped raise £261.25 and secure a further £150.00 donation from LSST’s Student Union.

Superhuman student fund raisers standing proud at LSST Luton

Aqeel Syed, Associate Dean for LSST Luton, said: ‘I can’t thank the LSST students enough for their achievements and for raising so much money in such a short space of time. I am confident this experience has provided them with important skills that will serve them well in the workplace too.’

Katie Richardson, Regional Fundraising Coordinator at Keech Hospice Care, said: ‘We’re very grateful for the support of the London School of Science and Technology. As a charity, Keech depends on around 70 per cent of the funding for its care services to come from the community for its survival. All the charity’s services are offered free of charge, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Donations like these will ensure we can keep providing all our services to our adults and children at a time they need us most.’