World expert in family business is new Dean at Faculty of Management and Law
Despite leaving school at 16, the new Interim Dean of the University of Bradford Faculty of Management and Law has carved out an international reputation as a respected academic.
Although she did not follow the conventional route of doing A-levels at 18 and going straight to university, new Dean Professor Carole Howorth’s ambitious personality was already evident when she set up her first business at 19.
That ambition has clearly continued to develop throughout her life.
Professor Howorth, who officially took up the Deanship today, did not enter Higher Education until more than a decade later. Once in the university environment she excelled and now has a strong vision for the School of Management as its Dean, starting with strengthening the reputation of the School internationally.
“I’m very excited about stepping up into the Dean role,” she said. “There are two major focus points I want to work on.
“Firstly, we can do more to develop the School of Management’s excellent reputation internationally. We have very strong links across the world but we want to make more of those connections and continue to develop Bradford as a global brand.
“Secondly, there is huge potential for the University to do even more with businesses, both locally and internationally. We can work with businesses in research, executive education and consultancy.
“We like to work in partnership with businesses because it’s about sharing knowledge with each other and with our students. The University isn’t an ivory tower; we do research and teaching that aims to make a difference. Our students go on placement and work on company projects as part of their studies. Our academics share knowledge by working with businesses and public sector organisations on bespoke programmes and research projects.
“We’ll be looking to build more partnerships to share the knowledge that’s created in the University and to learn from businesses."
She is hugely proud of her home city of Bradford, its history and its university.
“Bradford’s a great place to live and work. We have fabulous countryside on our doorstep. Since moving back here, I’ve been really pleased to see how the city is being developed and the positive vibe that is being created.”
Although Professor Howorth did not go on to do A-levels at school her talent did not go unrecognised.
“I was a Bradford Girls Grammar School girl and I was tipped for Oxbridge entry, but I had to leave school at 16 for family reasons,” she said.
“My family struggled to support me through the school, even though I had a scholarship. That’s one of the reasons why I am passionate about access to education. I’m really pleased that the University is developing more foundation degrees to give people a second chance.”
After leaving school Professor Howorth worked at a travel agents in Shipley and as a quantity surveyor’s assistant at Bradford Metropolitan District Council, before qualifying as a riding instructor on a government Training and Opportunities Scheme (TOPS) at Harrogate Equestrian Centre and setting up an equine business at her family’s farm.
Her sister joined the business when she was old enough and Throstle Nest Riding Stables continues to thrive over 30 years later, with Professor Howorth’s niece being lined up to take the reins.
Professor Howorth said: “I came away from the riding business when I was about 30. I wanted to use my brain more. I had done a couple of A-levels at night school but that wasn’t enough to get into university so I did an access course at Bradford College.
“I did my first degree at what was The Management Centre*. When I started the course I had no idea where it was going to take me.
“I knew I was intelligent but I wasn’t sure where I was going with it. I got first class honours and a prize for best student.”
Professor Howorth’s potential was obviously spotted by the School because she was encouraged to apply for an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) scholarship and study for her PhD, which focused on late payments and the funding of small businesses.
While studying for her doctorate she was an academic tutor at The Management Centre (the previous name of the Bradford School of Management). This led to her first lectureship at Nottingham University Business School in Entrepreneurship and Finance. She then moved to a senior lecturer post at Lancaster University Management School, where she progressed to Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Business.
It was while at Lancaster that she founded the Centre for Family Business Research and she was ranked number two in the world (outside of the USA) for family business research. She was invited to join the STEP (Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices) global family enterprising project and became the European leader. Since being at Bradford, Professor Howorth has become the global chair of the project, which includes 40 member universities across the world. The project is administered by Babson College in the USA, which is the number one university in the world for entrepreneurship education and research.
The partner universities work with family businesses in their area to help develop entrepreneurship across generations.
Now, much of her time is taken up with planning and implementing strategies for the Faculty as the Dean, but she still manages to continue her research interests.
Family businesses and entrepreneurship have been a focus of the research and teaching throughout Professor Howorth’s academic career.
Professor Howorth’s current research, funded by the Institute for Family Business (IFB) Research Foundation, is focused on the next generation of family businesses.
“Going from one generation to another can be a critical juncture for family businesses,” she says. “For example, if the next generation isn’t interested in being part of the family firm the future of the business could be in jeopardy – putting jobs at risk. I have been looking at how the next generation can be more engaged in the family business.”
She added: “I’ve always been keen to question assumptions, myths and generalisations about small businesses and family businesses. My background allows me to question ingrained thinking and theories on these businesses.”
* The Management Centre in Bradford predates the university by three years, having been established in 1963. It was one of the first management schools in the country.