Networking through the RBAs: Harper Adams and Amazon

13 May 2019 | Rural Business Awards

One of the key benefits of being a part of the Rural Business Awards is the networking opportunities it creates. In this blog series, we’ll see the results of some of those opportunities.

Each year, we draw our judges from a selection of our sponsors and associates, ambassadors and past winners, as well as other exceptional examples of rural business.

Representatives from both Amazon and Harper Adams University took part in judging the entries in our Wales and Northern Ireland Region. These included Mark Hemming, Amazon’s Regional Director of UK Customer Fulfillment and Jane Headley, Principal Lecturer and Business Course Tutor at Harper Adams.

Over the course of the judging day, and the regional final held in Abergele, the pair began to talk about the potential for Mark to give a lecture at Harper Adams, as part of their new Harper Business Plus range of activities. This includes termly guest lectures and regular student focused events around entrepreneurial activity.

Jane Headley commented, “Harper staff work hard to help our students apply their business knowledge to the real world. The placement year is a big part of this but the role of guest speakers sharing current industry experience is also vital in helping students make connections and see the bigger picture.”

Speaking to a packed lecture theatre Mark talked about Amazon’s work and the technologies that enable the company to achieve such fast customer response times, as well as their mission to become ‘the earth’s most customer-centric company’.

Mark took students through Amazon’s meteoric rise, from its humble beginnings, when staff used doors as tables to save money, to becoming a true global player which employs over 500,000 people.

Mark’s expertise painted an enlightening picture of the complexity of managing the supply time, as well as the importance of the customer. He also shared the latest innovations having an impact on the business, sharing videos of robots moving shelving as well as discussing the role of big data in understanding and anticipating customer demand.

Students asked a range of questions covering lead time and cost reduction, sustainability, innovative engineering, physical stores and drones.

Speaking after the event Mark observed, “This was a real pleasure and thank you for the turnout of both students and staff – these things are worthwhile when you have an interested audience, and the questions were great!”

The overwhelmingly positive student feedback following the event proves it to be a real success, granting Harper students a unique insight into one of the biggest brands in the world.

Oli Tomson, BSc (Hons) Business Management with Marketing Year 4, commented, “Thank you very much for organising today, Mark is a very interesting man! The success Amazon has had over recent years is quite remarkable and having the opportunity to listen and ask Mark questions was great. I am looking forward to coming along to the next one!”

This is just one example of the sorts of opportunities that can arise as a result of participating in the Rural Business Awards. Read next week’s blog to discover how one of our entrants gained a new sponsor.

If you’d like to take advantage of the RBA’s networking opportunities, enter the 2019/20 Awards! You can find more information here:

We’re looking for experts in rural business to judge next years’ entries. If you would be interested in being a judge, please let us know via


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