In the summer of 1989 I spent eight weeks travelling around the United States and Canada looking at the customer service practices of North American retailers. I visited numerous retailers, large and small, and interviewed countless owners, managers, directors and shop floor staff. I also spent time with leading academics in various Universities, who kindly helped me explore this service landscape.
Once back in the UK, I wrote up the findings of this visit, some in trade press and others as academic papers in academic journals. I gave a number of presentations to businesses, academics and other organisations and used this work in my teaching at the University of Stirling.
It was a wonderful opportunity. I learned a lot and believe I brought this learning into my professional life as an academic and with the retailers I worked with. Perhaps this is a definition of impact; research with the purpose of having an effect.
As a consequence I was, and still am, a Churchill Fellow.
In 1965, Sir Winston Churchill died. Thousands of people gave generously so that a living memorial to him could benefit future generations of British people. This national living memorial funds people from any background to travel overseas in search of new ways of tackling some of the current challenges facing the UK. No qualifications are needed, just a project travelling to learn and a willingness and desire to return and apply that learning to improve a community, a profession or an area.
Each year over 100 Fellowships are awarded.
Why am I writing about this now? Well, the Churchill Trust has designated the last week and this week, Fellows’ Fortnight, with the aim to using Fellows to spread the word about the opportunity (closing date for applications this year is 20th September). I benefitted enormously from the opportunity – as indeed did my father some 15 years before on the very different topic of basketball coaching – and I hope by publicising the opportunity, others can benefit as well.
There are 14 categories (including the Open category) this year – see leaflet below. Applications are encouraged from anyone, from any background, with or without educational qualifications and in any occupation or none. The Fellowship covers all travel, daily costs and insurance for overseas travel of between 4-8 weeks.
As the Trust says:
“Often a Fellowship serves as a catalyst that unlocks an individual’s potential. It can accelerate their career, developing them as a leader in their field of expertise or as a role model, and continues to be a motivating influence long after they have returned from their travels”
It did for me; could it for you?
Full details can be found at the Trust website.