Discover more about the people teaching you

Our academics have all gained extensive experience in industry and continue to undertake research or consultancy to keep their knowledge fresh and relevant. You will also find them friendly, approachable and supportive.

We've interviewed the key people running this programme so you can find out more about their expertise and background:

Polina Baranova – Programme Leader for the MBA Global

Polina is the Programme Leader for the MBA and a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management. She has an experienced background working in consultancy and logistics and has led a number of national and multinational consultancy projects.

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How are you involved in the MBA programme?

I am Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management and Programme Leader for the MBA Global. I lead two modules on the MBA Global: Critical Perspectives in Strategic Management and Leadership, and Independent Study/Corporate Placement Project.

What is your professional background and experience?

Having worked in consultancy and logistics before my academic career, I emphasise strong links between academic research/teaching and business practices.

While working as a consultant for a high profile international consultancy company, I participated and led a number of national and multinational projects concerned with the development of management information systems and business ventures for coal mines.

I’m particularly interested in projects that link academia with organisational practices, and those that address complex business and societal issues, for instance in the area of sustainability and circular economy.

I was a lead academic consultant for a project about applying service design methodology to improve university enrolment processes, and for another that developed student engagement analytics.

I am currently working on a European Regional Development Fund project about developing the low carbon capabilities of the regional SMEs.

In your opinion, what are the key benefits of Derby's MBA Global programme?

First, the programme is designed to develop management and leadership competencies to succeed in global markets. We believe that managing and leading global organisations requires a unique set of capabilities, including:

  • ‘cultural fluency’
  • a global mindset
  • the ability to perform in often fast-changing and unpredictable environments, amongst many others.

Our programme provides an environment where these competences are harnessed and energised.

Second, we focus on transforming the personal skills and developing the coaching and mentoring skills of our students. These form a vital part of the global skillset when working with diverse, often virtual teams in multiple locations around the world.

Third, research is one of the key strategic priories for us. We have a stand-alone Business Research Methods and Data Analysis module, so students can develop research skills and techniques as well as broader analytical apparatus to design and execute research projects. It is linked to either the Dissertation or Corporate Placement Project, so students can either pursue academic or applied research.

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities for global businesses today?

Over the next few years, the biggest opportunities for global businesses will come from addressing the sustainability challenge and responding to the rising demand for ‘green’ products and services.

This trend presents an opportunity to develop innovative solutions and technologies, which would satisfy the global appetite for sustainability.

This could result in the development of the new business models that promote environmentally-friendly working practices and interfaces with a broad range of stakeholders and the society at large.

Tutor Q&A: Cedric Nkiko, Academic Lead (Business), University of Derby Online

Cedric works for the University of Derby Online (UDOL), which runs the MBA jointly with the University’s College of Business. As well as teaching, he has worked internationally as a sustainability management consultant for the last 15 years.

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How are you involved in the MBA programme?

I work for the University of Derby Online (UDOL), which runs the MBA Global jointly with the University’s College of Business. I teach on the following modules: Global Supply Chain Management and Logistics, and Business Research Methods and Data Analysis.

What is your professional background and experience?

I have in-depth experience of developing, teaching and managing online programmes at degree, masters and doctorate levels, with a number of business schools globally. 

Over the last 15 years, I have also worked as a sustainability management consultant in the fields of:

  • corporate sustainability and responsibility
  • sustainable development
  • strategy
  • business management
  • stakeholder engagement
  • public sector engagement and co-production.

I have continued to consult for businesses, NGOs and governments ­– especially developing economies – in strategic corporate responsibility and governance; sustainability strategy and sustainable investing; international brand strategy and reputation management; and organisational development. 

I have worked for clients such as:

  • United Nations Development Programme
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • Rolls-Royce
  • PayPal
  • NHS.

I have worked with multinational stakeholder groups in countries such as China, Brazil, USA, Spain, Germany, Botswana, Nigeria, and Uganda.

What research or other non-teaching projects are you currently involved in?

I’m currently working with Professor Christopher Wickert (VRIJE University of Amsterdam) on a research project about strengthening agribusiness ethics and quality standards and ICT usage in value chains.

I am also working with a colleague to produce a stakeholder engagement framework for SME owner-managers in growing economies.

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities for global businesses today?

The big problem for many businesses wishing to tackle the international market is how to achieve local responsiveness while at the same time controlling costs and quality.

As a company’s international presence increases, often a multi-domestic or localisation strategy develops. Under this strategy, the company sets up subsidiaries in several countries, which tend to operate independently from each other and often relatively independently from the headquarters.

This type of strategy emphasises local responsiveness, but often at the expense of costs and possibly quality. Our MBA Global examines these issues and should help students overcome some of the dilemmas.

Insightful guest speakers

In addition to our in-house teaching team, we also invite specialists from industry to come in and give talks or take part in events. Their expertise is based on years of practical experience in a particular field, sector or profession.

Some of our recent visitors included:

Valuable connections

As well as individual guest speakers, we also have links with these influential organisations:

These organisations work with us in a variety of ways. For example, by acting as mentors, providing placement opportunities, allowing us to visit their sites and observe their work first-hand, or giving our students real project briefs to work on.