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My Warwick Life: Mark Swift

Mark SwiftThe My Warwick Life feature gives an insight into staff and students’ lives at Warwick, considering both their work and social life on campus. This week we hear from Dr. Mark Swift, Head of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Programme at Warwick Manufacturing Group.

There’s no such thing as a typical day, but, in a nutshell, my job involves…

supporting small businesses, helping them identify and adopt new technologies that will increase market share and improve efficiency. That’s the focus of my (excellent) team. We are measured on economic impact and commercial outcomes, so all our work is orientated around this goal. A typical day can involve working with the wide variety of stakeholders we have for both the International Digital Lab and the new International Institute for Product and Service Innovation. This ranges from meeting with University academics and management to our funders, partners and, of course, small businesses. The work with businesses is incredibly varied (we help over 100 on average a year) from undertaking research projects on novel Additive Layer Manufacturing processes to helping businesses find new customers and markets through social media tools.

I had a really interesting meeting recently with…

15 small businesses from sectors such as automotive, geo-physics and retail at a breakfast briefing we held on cloud services. It was particularly interesting as we were able to use the session to gain valuable feedback on our thinking on how cloud solutions can be used in business. This learning is fed back into WMG’s research and business support activity, and allows us to tailor our services more specifically to business needs.

It would be really useful to work more closely with…

as many departments as possible. We do try to engage across as many as possible, but are always looking for areas where we can work with other departments to help small businesses. Currently we have identified that some of the businesses we are working with are looking to hire additional staff. These are mainly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subject areas so it is important for us to work with other academic departments and Employer Connect to ensure that businesses take on University of Warwick graduates and students to meet their skill requirements.

I recently attended…

the Social Media World Forum event in London. It was great to meet leaders from Twitter, FourSquare and Microsoft to exchange ideas. Having attended a similar conference last year, although there had been rapid development since then, I was pleased to find this time we were much more in touch with the latest trends and developments.

I'm really enjoying…

supporting a range of diverse research ideas into the marketplace. Last summer we had the opportunity to produce a film using Professor Alan Chalmer’s world first High Dynamic Range (HDR) camera. It was important to ensure that the film was captivating, demonstrating the capability of this technology and also was developed with a West Midlands context (due to the source of our funding). I approached Morgan Motor Company, a contact I had who owned a number of vintage Spitfire aircraft and a local film company owned by a Warwick film studies postgraduate, and we made a wonderful short film that was considered by a Hollywood producer as the best HDR film he had ever seen.

Warwick's unique because…

of the blend of world class research and the propensity to collaborate closely with industry, whether it’s Jaguar Land Rover, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Tata, the NHS or small businesses.

The best thing about working at Warwick is…

the people – a cliché I’m sure, but it’s true. I’m also often reminded by visitors about how wonderful the campus environment is, from the buildings we have, such as the International Digital Lab (in particular the natural light on the third floor) to the lakes, trees and wildlife. It’s a place that allows you to think.

If I could change one thing at the University…

it would be little. I’m not going to mention the car parking (too late, I just have...) but finding somewhere to park early afternoon when I’ve been out during the morning is exhausting.

I’m really glad I got involved with…

playing in a Samba reggae band in the Music Centre a few years ago with Warwick students and staff. It was such a laugh, until the organiser decided to put us on YouTube.

I used my Warwick Learning Account vouchers for…

improving my swimming. That helped me recuperate following a car accident which led me to take up surfing again, which I now regularly do in Cornwall (badly) but my swimming is a lot better.

I’ve watched lots of things at the Arts Centre…

but I will never forget a very drunk Lou Reed. He was terrible to begin with but was really rocking at the end and everyone was on their feet.

I recently had lunch at…

Bar Fusion where we tried out the very spicy noodles. The WMG SME team try to have a lunch together around the campus on a monthly basis.

I usually travel to campus by…

foot or in the car depending on where I need to be or have come from. My commute varies from one mile to 60 miles.

If you'd like to be featured in a future My Warwick Life piece, please email internalcomms@warwick.ac.uk and we'll email the questions out to you.