Sunderland business students work with blackswan and other global organisations In unique innovation programme

Global organisations have been active participants in a unique innovation for a business strategy programme, masterminded by blackswan, at the University of Sunderland Business School.

The one-off programme was crafted and delivered by blackswan, the global business transformation organisation, in partnership with the Business Clinic at the University’s Faculty of Business and Law.

blackswan encouraged two of its largest, world-famous strategic partners to offer live case studies as part of the five-day interactive programme in which postgraduate students mapped out future business strategies for each organisation.

The pioneering nature of the programme attracted postgraduate students from across the faculty to take part – including one former student, Thorben Hänel, who travelled back from Germany where he is currently completing his PhD in innovation expertise.

Thorben said: “I was very impressed with the content of the programme. The guest speakers and lecturers were absolutely committed to both-way discussions on the topic. This hands-on practice insight is really beneficial and, as an inherent part of future postgraduate courses, would boost the student experience.”

Maurice Duffy, CEO of blackswan, said: “The students had a great corporate insight, working with major organisations and our specialists, who are world experts in their fields. The response from the students was astounding.  They were given projects from data provided personally by senior executives from two very major organisations, to analyse and then build a road map of how each organisation needed to transform to reach future targets. They understood the complex interwoven nature of each organisation’s “DNA” and focused upon the key issues, thereby providing thought-provoking recommendations.”

The 25 postgraduate students’ recommendations will be presented to senior executives from the participating organisations following the live case study work.

Professor Bernie Callaghan, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Sunderland, said: “This is a totally unique programme, and it is also the first time that blackswan has partnered with any university. The programme offered a fantastic opportunity to our postgraduate students - one which no other university is able to provide. The feedback from the students who took part was extraordinarily positive. This real life case studies, intensive programme - with major, complex organisations - gives our students a competitive edge when they begin their careers.

“We’re very grateful to blackswan for their time and commitment, which included providing five of their specialists to give lectures and presentations during the course.”

The students used blackswan’s unique TransformationDNA® programme to assess the DNA and health of the participating organisations and recommend how they could step change to the next level. The programme included lectures, workshops, seminars, a question time session with experts, reports and competitive team presentations. Each student was awarded a professional development enhancement certificate at the end of the course.

Maurice Duffy, CEO at blackswan added:  “This innovation programme has given us an opportunity to transfer the unique learning we have from the world of business into the classroom.  At blackswan we have succeeded because we bring together enterprise, strategy and innovation to transform businesses.  Some of the Masters students we are working with at Sunderland Business School may well become future global business consultants themselves – and the insight they got from this course will undoubtedly help in their future careers.”


Front, seated, Maurice Duffy, CEO, blackswan (left) with Professor Bernie Callaghan, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Sunderland. In the background are EMBA students and blackswan staff.

For further information on blackswan and the EMBA programme, please contact Daniel O’Mahoney on +44 (0) 191 2658803 or Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel +44 (0) 1670 790246 or +44 (0) 7711 698246.

About blackswan

blackswan innovates and transforms  leaders and businesses through its unique knowledge  base and capability and now works with many global organisations in over 40 countries around the world. The students learned from world experts in transformation and innovation, mastered blackswan’s proprietary TransformationDNA® programme and analysed data supplied by senior executives from two world famous organisations. Through lectures, workshops, seminars, a question time session with experts, reports and competitive team presentations, the innovation programme has demanded extraordinary commitment from each of the participating students. In a feedback survey, every participant stated that they enjoyed blackswan’s course and would recommend it to others.

Student feedback included:


 “Very useful, amazing and fantastic experience!”

 “Excellent. Mind changing. Very well delivered.”

“An excellent course that has opened my eyes to a new way of thinking.”


Main value of the programme

 “Changed my view of transformation and innovation.”

“It was fantastic! The main value gained from me was the idea of changing an organisation.”


Quality of the blackswan team

“Excellent! Simply in one week’s time nothing can be better than this.”



“Lectures were very informative, and because of the speed at which they were being delivered my interest was always kept high.”