Leadership students learn with Scottish Premiership Club

16 November 2022

Students in the School of Management's Leadership Development module enjoyed engaging with a high profile local business in two sessions with Dundee United Football Club (DUFC). They were following links established by the School's Dr Fergus Neville, a member of the Dundee United Lab which supports the club's research and innovation, and by Saints Sport which provides the University of St Andrews Playing Fields and the Carnegie Pavilion as a base for the DUFC High Performance Centre.

In one session, the students received a guest lecture from senior leaders at DUFC. The club's Sporting Director Tony Asghar and Football Operations Manager Ross Starke delivered a workshop in which they explained the complexities of leadership in professional sport, with a particular focus on social identity processes, a key theme of the module. During interactive group tasks, the students worked through real-life leadership challenges faced by the club.

Student Felicia Armstrong-James said: "I really enjoyed the guest lecture and thought the interactive feature (group work) was a great addition to engage us and put into practice what we had learned."

Dr Neville added: "We thank Tony and Ross for such an engaging and candid session on leadership processes at Dundee United. It was a great learning experience for our students on the business of running a professional football club, and the relevance of social identities at every level of the organisation.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the club on innovative teaching and research opportunities."

In the other session, the class were guests of DUFC at a Scottish Premiership fixture, an occasion to reflect on leadership opportunities and challenges during a matchday. Despite the scoreboard result, the students had a wonderful day and met the club Chair at pitch-side, sampled the twin delicacies of pies and Bovril, and left as fully fledged Dundee United supporters.

students and staff from Leadership Development class shown on the pitch at DUFC with bright lights on the empty stands in the background

Commenting on the importance of community engagement and the relationship with the University, Ross Starke said: "First and foremost, Dundee United are extremely committed to our role as valued members of both the University and local community in St Andrews. We were delighted to host Dr Neville and his students at Tannadice to experience a match.

"Both the theory and learning content the students have been receiving is fascinating and it was a mutually beneficial exercise to discuss in practice, while engaging with the students about different perspectives and the intricacies of identity management within a football culture."

He added: "We are also looking forward to some extra support in our upcoming matches as some students from the class have caught the Dundee United bug and are planning to attend more games.

"We are excited about working together on future projects, experiences and opportunities to continue developing an already special relationship between the club and the University."

students and staff from Leadership Development class with members of DUFC, in front of a large b/w photo of a football match