Guest lecturer Stephen Jones (UK): Turība is like an incubator, very valuable for networking (0)
Recently the guest lecturer Stephen Jones from the University of Bangor (UK) visited Turiba University and gave a series of lectures. This was not his first visit to Turiba, as he is at our university every year to conduct various business-related lectures. During an interview Stephen Jones talks about his reasons for visiting Turiba University, describing the university environment, opportunities available and the students. He emphasizes that Turiba is like an incubator where students can network, building contacts and mutual communication. "It is a great opportunity that should be used by every student," says the guest lecturer.
You are a senior lecturer of business studies at the University of Bagor. How did you a part of the university?
I am from Wales and it is interesting that in terms of population, Wales is almost the same as Latvia. We have a lot in common. Shortly after I got my first degree in science and technology, I went to Saudi Arabia. I was there for a relatively short period and then moved to Singapore, where I spent seven years working at an oilfield company. Then I went to live and work in Beijing - it was 1986. At that time settlers from other countries were rare in China, and it should be mentioned that it was a very exciting time in the business sector. Perhaps that was the moment which inspired me to work as a teacher because my main specialty is international business. For the past few years I have been regularly visiting Latvia and lecturing here. I have a good idea of how Latvia and the Baltic States have changed over the years after independence.
Why did you choose Turiba?
It is actually a very interesting and somewhat unusual story. Aigars Rostovskis had invited a good friend of mine from Singapore to visit Turiba, and I just came along with him, so to say – to get a new experience. It is very exciting because you never know where your contacts and acquaintance will lead you - this trend is characteristic for both the business and the education sector. At Turiba University, I am very attracted to the fact that students from different countries of the world gather here. They communicate and build contacts that are likely to be useful in their future professional career development.
What is your opinion about our University and its environment?
Judging by what I have got to know, I only have the best impressions. During the last two years I have travelled to Turiba even twice a year. Previously I stayed at one of the hotels in Riga, but this time I stayed here - at the student hotel. It is an excellent opportunity for students, living just a few steps away from the building where lectures take place. At any time you can catch the train to the centre of Riga, which is only a few minutes ride from Turiba. Everything is designed to make the students who live here feel comfortable. I like the fact that you have a modern learning environment and a friendly atmosphere here. In a comparatively small campus, students have everything they need. Not too big or too small – one could say, a compact student campus. If you live in a student hotel, you won't miss a lot of your lecture even if you get up late in the morning as you can be at the lecture within three minutes.
What lectures do you conduct at Turiba?
During my previous visits I focused more on team building, business and change management. This time I talked to students about international business, trying to give valuable advice and knowledge that will be useful for their future professional activity. Entrepreneurship in the international environment is a very topical and interesting topic. International business is influenced by many different factors, such as the political situation, environment, human differences etc.
How, in your opinion, do foreign students feel themselves in Latvia?
At Turiba I only work with groups of foreign students and we also discuss other topics, not directly related to our lectures. We have talked about how they have adapted to the University life. They emphasize that everyone here is friendly and responsive, helping each other. It is such a fantastic opportunity to build international contacts which is not possible everywhere. In my opinion, it is a win-win situation for both parties, those coming from abroad and for the local students as well. Turiba is like an incubator, where contacts and communication can be formed; it is important that the students themselves are aware of it and take advantage of the opportunities. The more we get to know and learn, the better and more useful it is for ourselves. The world is becoming more and more global, and one needs to live in tune with time.
Have you managed to visit other cities apart from Riga?
As of now, I have been to Jūrmala to see the sea and the beach. Jurmala is a very beautiful city, but Riga attracts me more. Here you will find beautiful architecture and many interesting museums. One could say that Riga has been an international business centre since ancient times. I have already told my family several times that we must definitely come here for a holiday. Occasionally, when I am at Turiba, there is not much time for leisure and culture. Usually the days are very well planned and scheduled and you can't see as much as you might like to.
I would like to add that I had the opportunity to visit and see the famous Riga Central Market, in my opinion, a really impressive place. The most memorable was the fish pavilion, surprisingly, that some fish are still alive and kept in specially designed aquariums. It is nice to see the market area is being renovated and developed.
Speaking of Latvian cuisine, the food is a little different from what I enjoy in my everyday life. I notice that there are a lot of good quality vegetables in the shops, and Latvians are great meat and fish lovers.