Episode 7

In Conversation with Roland Maposa

Published on: 10th June, 2021

This week we had the pleasure to invite Roland Maposa, a current Postgraduate Researcher in the International Business Division at Leeds University business School. Roland is no stranger to us, as he has completed both his undergraduate and masters programmes at the University of Leeds before embarking on his research journey. This week, Roland discusses how glocalisation impacts his academic career, and shares tips on how to be an effective networker.

Read the blog here.


Hello everyone and welcome to the Go Glocal podcast series, the show that addresses the importance of think globally and act locally. I'm your host Ellen Wang from Leeds University Business School. Today I invite Roland to join me on the show. Roland is no stranger to us as he's been pursuing higher education at the university since bachelor’s degree, and now he has embarked on the journey of postgraduate research. So, I'm very excited to learn a bit more about Roland’s journey and hear his views on glocalization. Hello Roland, how you doing? Thank you so much for joining me today.


Hi Ellen, thank you for inviting me.

Ellen: Great so I think a very good place to start today is for you to tell us a little bit about yourself, your journey so far here at Leeds and where does that take you to the future, please?

Roland: My career background is in the third sector, in the charity sector. But mostly social care and housing. When I left that, I kind of decided to do something I always had been passionate about, which was to learn, I love learning. So, it was to come to uni. I did. I came as a mature student, and I did my undergrad, this was with the LLC and I was a contemporary professional studies degree student. Loved that. I went on to do my masters which was masters in IB (International Business) with study abroad, only because I was able to do an exchange semester, and like you said now I'm a post grad researcher at the Business School. But in the International business division as well. While here I've… I think guided by my third sector experience, can it as part of exhausting my potential as a student. I just went for anything that kind of spoke to me, so I did a lot of voluntary stuff. I still do. I volunteer as a as a trustee on the Board of Leeds University Union. I volunteer as a Learning Champion. Also, with the Lifelong Learning Centre and the role of the Learning Champion is pretty cool. It is just speaking to other mature students, so mature being 21 and over. So, starting an undergrad, 21 and over, speaking to other mature students who are considering higher education as part of their development and just sharing with them and saying as a mature student myself, this is my experience and hopefully it informs their decision making. The one word that comes to my mind is serendipity, and why I use that is when I came here, I was like okay go do my undergrad and move on. But I'm still here. So, I guess this when you talk about the future, I guess this that balancing, you know, planning. But also acknowledging serendipity. Because it will take you to something you've never thought of. So, I guess if I do right and complete my doctoral studies, I will set myself at the place where I can opt to stay in academia or, two, to go into industry and create to make impact that way, so I'm not kind of fixed on what I will do post this. I mean, right now the plan is to pass the transfer at the end of this year, and then complete this PhD and whatever the future holds for me, hey. I joke to friends, and I say I came, I saw, I stayed.

Ellen: That's great, Roland, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you are someone who maximised the opportunity around you to enhance your learning experience, which is great, and I have to say I didn't realise you're also involved actively in other roles within the university, trustee on the Student Union Board and learning Champion. That's amazing. As someone who's completed a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree here in Leeds and now embarked on the journey of postgraduate research in the middle of global pandemic, what is your main challenges that you're facing right now?

Roland: That's a good one, I think. So having had the in person learning experience right, I have a comparison. This this digital start and working within it to be honest was tough. Definitely at the beginning to adjust. You know, I think, there’s no doubt some sparks happen when you in person, talking to people and that helps, and just edifies the whole learning experience. So, that I missed, that I missed the connecting with people and talking to people, meeting people, because you meet people in the most random places right, it's not just in classes and modules. If you are doing an extra module or in a society let’s say. And so that's, I miss that I miss having coffee on campus. That's pretty cool, but in the context of surviving a pandemic, we I guess, you know, within the constraints because there's a global thing. So, in the constraints of that, I guess the school's done a brilliant job in keeping us going. So, keeping things going. But what it obviously does is, where we get the knowledge, we get the work done that there's one aspect that's working. I think we missed this sort of rapport building, this getting to know people. I think as when you're online, that you're doing the zoom call, using a Teams meeting. It's kind of, very transactional. You know that it's just you do what you there for, very efficient, by the way, and I think that's probably a discovery that a lot of people won't make. But of course, then you know you're having zoom fatigue, and I it was interesting reading this article about. A Zoom fatigue session, on zoom, so like. This is the world we're in right now. This is this. This is the world we are in now.

Ellen: Great, thank you. I absolutely agree with you. I do also think that spark happens in person. I'm a very much personable individual as well. I love the face-to-face interaction so and I'm pretty much sure that our audience will resonate with you as well.

Roland: I mean they call them the water cooler moments, right? So, it's those moments where you just walk up there, like hey and then you don't know where that leads, so that's I think we’re definitely missing that online. I feel because even when you go into the zoom groups, I think everybody goes in there with the explicit awareness that I'm here to do something and then kind of go back. So, at least there are people you know, people you studied with me then maybe it works. But then again, look, this is my perspective. And there’s many perspectives out there.

Ellen: Absolutely, and I really like the choice of words that you use when it comes to challenges that you describe. Challenges with online engagement can be very transactional I think that's really good observation and you're absolutely right, because it takes away that kind of a random engagement with people which sometimes sparks that innovation, it sparks new ideas. So yeah, I think that's really good observation point, so thank you for sharing that. So, I wanted to talk about ‘Glocalization’ next. Obviously, the podcast aims to address the importance of think globally act locally. So, I wanted to ask you, do you think this term is important for postgraduate researchers like yourself? And if so, how do you think that ‘Glocalization’ impacts your research strategy, please?

Roland: You know, International Business is exactly that. Anything that crosses a border is our concern for our study, but we know very, very, areas that we study and look at. And the word that comes to mind when you talk about glocal or glocalization is globalisation. And what that is done in the sense of the if you want, its history is it's gotten rid, if you want, of national borders, because you know, one of the focus points in international businesses, is the multinational corporation, right? So, these people own, sort of set up business across borders, so as the company, or for the company, whilst it operates in different parts of the world, all these parts belonged to it, right? So, in a sense that organisation transcends at the border. It's obviously interesting times that we are living in at the moment even for the subject area, only because we are having the rise of tech companies, you know, who, for whatever reason, you might think of, literally some of them, you know, what is what is important to them? Because they set up in one place and they just, but they’re just a global company as they go. I still I find it interesting only because, you know, what the going back to the earlier example of companies, you know, the one thing that always comes to my mind is, how the Japanese companies have gone globally.

So, for the UK example that comes straight to my mind is Sunderland, and in Sunderland the biggest employer out there is Nissan, which is a Japanese company. So, one could argue and say well. How, how, how? How can Nissan be local? Well, they've employed people from Sunderland, their value chains, you know, have employed other people from the area so, if it would take for some, it would take someone to maybe ask further and say you know, Nissan is not a UK company. They would probably look at you funny. Mind you this is this is just me, but this is similar to Ford right, when they set up their plants in Dagenham people thought Ford was a British company, but it's not. It's still an American company. So, this is at an, okay granted into the very big or large business scale of companies that are not, if you want, your graphically located, here sitting up here and doing well in being local, so that's the big thing. That's the big business. From a from a small business right, I think what technology has done is, it's made it possible for somebody in there in their bedroom, if you want to sell, goods or stuff or even ideas right there. The border is not respected by that channel, so that's an interesting whole area. I think that research will be going on for a while, to truly, truly understand. And yeah, it's interesting, interesting, interesting. If you want transition, that's going through now. But local, yeah, concerning local, you know, opposites so whether it's a local that's globalised or global that's localised. This is two ways, and I don't think we're getting rid of it. If anything, you know the globe is getting smaller and so it’s definitely a relevant area for as many people to look into.

Ellen: Great, thank you and just to kind of follow up what you said, and thank you for sharing that, I think your subject matter expertise definitely comes through there. So, I wanted to ask, how does that kind of resonate with you in terms of, do you think the term ‘glocalization’ will impact your research strategy at all? You know in in areas of your PhD studies, or how does that resonate with you?

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Roland: I hope to be here then because it’s something to see, and I’m going to be working towards it.

Ellen: Sure. Ok, so I'm going to sort of take you back from sometime into the future to where we are now. So, I want to ask given that the global pandemic has limited everyone's international mobility, what advice or tips can you share with our current students or our audience, across different levels, to develop a global mindset but act locally please?

Roland: for me, what is been pretty cool about this whole, I don’t know if you can say pretty cool in a pandemic, but what has been nice, or an outcome I guess, again, looking at the opportunities side, is how I've been able to sort of engage with learning from across the world. Suddenly you can join a webinar now in Australia, America, wherever. Which probably would not have been held online in the first place. You know you can join a conference and, you know, you probably wouldn't have been able to join in because you would have not needed to travel there, so that has been pretty cool learning opportunity, to widen the learning and to access all these webinars and online conferences. Obviously if it follows, then if you can access this global learning, and I'm adapting it for my research, how do I go on then, and either work or impact people around my community? That happening, right? So that's global coming to local. I mean, I guess, because I'm a first year I've not been in a position to do a webinar where I'm teaching others, but I suspect for people in the school, say who are doing that, they are impacting other people around the world, so that's the reverse. So, this local leads content impacting global audience. So, I think that's definitely been a good thing, a good outcome in a global sense.

Ellen: That's great, Roland, and I love the fact that you see the brighter side, the positive side to everything, which is which you know, which is the value which is a strength in the person.

Roland: Thank you, I think, I say to people, they get it wrong, right? Sometimes they say: ‘do this, you live once’. I say ‘no, no, you die once. As long as you’re alive, go for it!’ Come on, we can’t be too down on ourselves.

Ellen: Absolutely I love that yeah; you are actually right. I think everyone says you only live once but nobody says you die once so you should live life to the full.

Roland: Yeah, but sensibly, don't say Roland’s said GO… sensibly. Let’s stay positive.

Ellen: Absolutely. So let me ask a final question as we're coming to the end, is that I, from our recording, from our conversation, I can see that you're someone who is, you know, living life to the full, you’re enthusiastic, positive but most of most of all your you sound like you're an effective networker. Which is important because, you know, you talked about all these opportunities, talked about all these different, different things that people can get involved in, in order to generate more leads, and things like that, right? So, I think one of the things that can be seen is that it’s really challenging for many students whether they were undergraduate or master level, or postgraduate level. So, I wanted to just ask what tips and advice that you can give to our audience, or we can share with our audience to be an effective network please?

Roland: So, I know some people have issues, I think, I don’t know if issues is the right word, but some people hear the word network and it kind of puts them in a state, like Oh my God I have to network. Another way I guess, is seeing it as relationship building. Right, so does all you are doing is, you are meeting people, establishing their relevance to you, I guess. And then, you know, building on that sort of awareness, or acknowledgement of what this person can help you or do with and for you, I guess. So, I always say, or my approach is to sort of always be your authentic self, you are a single version, if you want, in the sense that you are one person. Just be that person and it will be easier, because what that does is, you know, it informs the point that you should know that not everyone you network with will be in your network, so don't put pressure on yourself. Like, I have to speak to 20 people and these 20 people will be in my network, sadly I don't think it works that way and definitely not in my experience. The reason I talk about being authentic self is that when you're building relationships, you want to be, you want to be you because you want them to benefit you. You don't want to do them for the sake of somebody telling you to have done them. Because then it's not a real relationship and it might not be one that you'll be able to use. Because at the end of the day, you know, what's core to networking is people meeting and hopefully sort of collaborations being sparked, friendships being formed, collegial approach to doing work, and so it's very valuable because no matter how brilliant you are, if you don't have, say, an audience, you know, you won't make it on your own actually, because you always need somebody to guide you to inform your path. So, it's very, very important. It's also important to cultivate that networking, so once you've established a rapport, or built a relationship with someone, look after it, if you neglect it like a garden, weeds and grass will grow. But I think one of the amazing experiences that I had during my, as a taught postgraduate actually was the postgraduate tour to Switzerland. I mean we were in the inaugural group. The one thing I loved about that, yeah use that word loved, was how we got to meet students from the other divisions. And what that did was it just showed you where say, my subject area sat within the others and how interconnected they were. And yeah, very valuable experience, and even more when we were out there we got to interact with some of the students out there. So, in the moment you were having not only a network being created amongst these taught postgraduate students, but also it was international because when we met up with the students in ZHAW in Switzerland, connecting with another, if you want, international network. So just like that you know, through the school we had two networks created. And of course, if we got to meet someone organisations out there, you know, depending on how you engaged with the people who are hosting us. Even that created its own network, so almost three layers. And we had the guys teaching us as well. So, it was like 4 networks just created from one opportunity. So, if you go out and you look for it, I mean, you know, I think I used that as an example only because it invests directly from the school. If you go out and look for building relations with people, don't freeze. Networking is not bad. Acknowledge that not everybody going to meet or network with will be a power for your network and just stay authentic and then, hey presto.

Ellen: Absolutely I, I really loved what you shared, Roland, and I think when you talk about authentic self, and you don't have to network with everyone, that basically says to me that you attract like-minded people, and that's effectively what the networking is all about, right?

Roland: I mean, yeah. It's, you can attract the like-minded which is pretty cool, but equally being exposed to the not like-minded, that is a good thing as well because it opens you up to something that you might not have considered before. But definitely, the like-minded is pretty cool because then it's easier to work with the like-minded than not. But we live in the world where the more open your mind is and the more open you are to others, I think the better it is for you, to be honest.

Ellen: Of course, and that's all part of the networking process, I guess. So, I guess that is a really good point to conclude today's episode. Roland, it has been an absolute pleasure. I want to say thank you so much for joining me today. Sharing your story. Your journey and your insights on the topic of glocalisation. I'm really looking forward to your research journey and your results in the years to come and I wish you all the best.

Roland: Thank you so much for having me.

Ellen: Thank you and you shared so much and let me just end it with: Stay positive, stay authentic and live life to the full. So, over the next several episodes I hope to continue inviting more guests to join me and share their insight on glocalisation. And how they're tackling some of the challenges along the way. Most importantly, I want to raise the importance of think globally and act locally if you're interested in finding out more about this topic, please subscribe to our podcast series, or if you would like to get in touch our contact details are available in episodes description. Until then, let’s Go Glocal!

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About the Podcast

Go Glocal
Welcome to the Leeds University Business School ‘Go Glocal’ Podcast, the series that aims to connect you with Leeds University Business School alumni and current students to discuss transforming your academic and professional careers by having a ‘Glocal’ mindset.

Going ‘Glocal’ is about thinking globally and acting locally, ensuring that you have an open and globalised perspective and using it to benefit yourself and those around you, whether it is your studies, your peers, your colleagues, or your work.

We are very excited to welcome guest speakers from various disciplines and industries to talk about their journey at Leeds University Business School and beyond, and how they have utilised ‘Glocalisation’ to their advantage. The podcasts will be released on a weekly basis along with our interactive blog post, which summarizes the key takeaways that our speakers have to offer.