AEE: Mentoring

Our academic contributors collectively possess more than 40 years of experience in their individual domains, bringing substantial expertise to their specialised fields. The team, through their combined efforts, has supervised and mentored hundreds of thousands of students worldwide in their respective fields. Additionally, many of them hold roles as non-executive board members, industry directors, business advisors, and mentors, providing valuable support to clients across various sectors. Notable examples of our recent collaborations include NPL Purgo (2019-2021), Youth Enterprise Scotland (2023), University of Stirling (2020-2024), and Ulster University in Belfast (2022). For inquiries about our private thesis supervision or mentoring services, please contact us at

Case Study: Mentoring for Early Years Enterprise (June 2018)

Introduction: In June 2018, Dr Julie McFarlane, an assistant professor at Heriot-Watt University, embarked on a partnership with Tannochside Primary School in South Lanarkshire. The objective was to infuse enterprise skills into the early years curriculum through an enterprise Project. A six-week initiative, inspired by a Dragon’s Den style competition, aimed at raising funds for CHAS, a hospice charity, and the remarkable outcomes it yielded.

The Challenge: The challenge was clear: How could primary school students be introduced to essential enterprise skills while also contributing to a charitable cause? The six-week program, was designed to engage students in learning about entrepreneurship, product development, budgeting, and brand development while nurturing their philanthropic spirit. It encouraged them to create and run their own businesses. The core challenge was for students to develop and sell a range of flavoured drinks. Divided into rival teams, they were tasked with applying their creativity, resourcefulness, and teamwork to devise the most enticing and marketable beverages. While fostering entrepreneurial spirit, the project also aimed at nurturing empathy. The teams set their sights on a noble goal: raising money for CHAS, a charity dedicated to supporting terminally ill youngsters in the county.

Learning Outcomes: Over the course of six weeks, students gained a detailed understanding of various aspects of entrepreneurship and enterprise:

  1. Product Development: They learned how to conceptualise, create, and market a product.
  2. Budgeting: The project introduced them to financial literacy, teaching them to manage budgets effectively.
  3. Brand Development: Each team developed their brand identity, which included naming, packaging, and marketing strategies.
  4. Teamwork: The initiative encouraged collaboration, as students worked together in their teams to bring their entrepreneurial dreams to life.

The project not only equipped students with invaluable enterprise skills but also had a profound impact on the chosen charity. Through their entrepreneurial efforts, the students raised an impressive £400 for CHAS. This financial contribution played a significant role in supporting terminally ill children in the region. Moreover, the project’s immersive nature transformed the learning experience for students, making it more engaging, practical, and memorable.

Conclusion: The early years enterprise project at Tannochside Primary School stands as a testament to the power of educational mentoring in fostering innovation and community engagement. Dr Julie McFarlane’s approach not only imparted vital enterprise skills to young learners but also instilled in them the spirit of empathy and philanthropy. 

What Our Students Say

I would like to thank my dissertation supervisor, Julie, for her time, guidance, support, and helpful advice throughout this research. You allowed me to understand each, and every step of the process and it would not have been possible without you. I am also thankful for your flexibility around my heavy travel schedule due to golf competitions.

Jean de Wouters Former Student, University of Stirling

Throughout the writing of this dissertation, the support received from the supervisor for the topic, Dr J McFarlane, has been hugely significant in providing guidance when attempting to write the components of the research study. In particular, the assistance provided when discussing how to proficiently write the review of literature was invaluable, as without this, managing to complete this aspect of the study in a competent manner would have been challenging. Support in all aspects of the topic, such as helping structure the dissertation effectively and responding to queries in quick manner, couldn’t be more appreciated, as this helped alleviate concerns

David Farquharson Former Student, University of Stirling

This research could not have been done without the support of my supervisor, Dr. Julie McFarlane, thank you. Thank you.

Christian Nikkes Former Student, University of Stirling

I would like to thank my supervisor, Julie McFarlane for the assistance and support during this challenging year.

Murray Rose Former Student, University of Stirling

Julie, I was messaging you regarding this year’s support and guidance you have provided throughout the pandemic, to which I’m really grateful. Never could have imagined that I could land a 1st class in dissertation but here I am with a good grade, good overall degree and just yesterday got an offer from a sports marketing agency in London. It wouldn’t be possible without the support of individual’s like you around. Thank you.

Devesh Tambade Former Student, University of Stirling

Rodrigo provided me with tutorial assistance for one of my courses. I found Rodrigo to be an enthusiastic tutor as he was diligent and conscientious. He also provided students with a good standard of tutorial feedback.

John Sanders Lecturer, Heriot-Watt University

BodySwaps – On the use of Virtual Reality to develop soft skills in Gen Z users (Sept 2023 – Sept 2024)

Project Overview: This project aims to identify the effectiveness of VR simulations in the development of soft skills among Gen Z users.

The Challenge: New applications of VR technologies continue to emerge, however, their effectiveness in settings like soft skills development remains understudied. This project aims to provide evidence of the use of these technologies among Gen Z users.

The Solution: In collaboration with researchers from Loughborough University, the University of Westminster, and Liverpool Hope University, Dr Rodrigo Perez-Vega is leading a project that aims to test the effectiveness of these technologies.

The impact: This study will provide empirical evidence of the effectiveness of the use VR technologies to develop soft skills and will also provide recommendations to industry on how to improve this kind of technology.

NHS – Royal Berkshire Hospital – Feasibility study to adopt social robots in dementia wards (2023)

Project overview: This project aims to identify barriers and enables of adoption of social robots in dementia ward in this particular hospital.

The Challenge: As an emerging technology, social robots have been currently trialled in different healthcare settings. However, there is limited understanding of the contextual elements to consider when looking at the NHS setting. This study aimed to identify enablers and barriers of adoption of this technology in healthcare settings in the UK.

The Solution: In collaboration with the R&I department, Dr Rodrigo Perez-Vega in collaboration with other researchers at the University of Reading have developed a research protocol to first consider the views of frontline employees within the ward. A second stage study will examine the deployment of social robots in wards.

The impact: This is one of the first studies that explores the feasibility of using social robots in an NHS setting.

Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – 
Social media marketing to promote British pork in Mexico (Jan – Dec 2023)

Project Overview: As a consequence of Brexit, the UK Government and other organisations like AHDB explore new opportunities for British products internationally. Mexico is the third largest consumer of pork worldwide and represented an important market where British pork is not currently sold.

The Challenge: AHDB faced the challenge that previous campaigns did not lead to engagement from the target audience (purchase departments of major wholesalers, retailers and food service).

The Solution: Dr Rodrigo Perez-Vega, in collaboration with a local market research agency developed a social media marketing plan and BTL promotional activities in trade fairs. As a consequence of our activities, a trade mission of potential importers of British pork met with producers to explore the possibility of exporting British pork to Mexico.

The Impact: AHDB has a list of potential importers that can be shared with producers to explore future collaborations.

AzuraBlu’s Brand Transformation Journey with Dr Julie McFarlane (2021-2024)

Project Overview: In September 2023, AzuraBlu, a reputable commercial cleaning company, recognised the need for a significant overhaul of their branding strategy. To address this challenge and position themselves for success in a competitive market, they enlisted the expertise of Dr Julie McFarlane. The project’s objectives were to update their existing brand strategy, formulate a revised brand identity, and establish brand guidelines that would enable AzuraBlu to thrive in a changing business landscape.

The Challenge: AzuraBlu faced the dual challenge of standing out in a fiercely competitive market and enhancing their success rate in winning bids. The rising cost of living had impacted small businesses, necessitating a strategic refresh of the brand to target broader markets effectively. The challenges were to redefine AzuraBlu’s brand identity, articulate their unique value propositions, and create a brand strategy that would set them apart in a dynamic industry.

The Solution: Dr Julie McFarlane embarked on a comprehensive analysis of AzuraBlu’s brand identity. She collaborated closely with the company’s leadership to gain insights into their mission, values, and long-term vision. The key solution was the development of a revised brand strategy that would effectively communicate AzuraBlu’s unique selling points to their target audience.

Simultaneously, Dr McFarlane crafted meticulously detailed brand guidelines and brand packets to ensure consistency in brand representation across all touchpoints. These guidelines would serve as a compass for AzuraBlu’s branding efforts, aligning them with the newly defined strategic direction.

The Impact: The collaborative efforts between Dr Julie McFarlane and AzuraBlu are ongoing, with early signs of positive impact:

1. Enhanced Brand Identity: AzuraBlu is in the process of redefining its brand identity, guided by the insights and strategies developed in collaboration with Dr McFarlane.

2. Competitive Advantage: The revised brand strategy positions AzuraBlu to stand out in the competitive commercial cleaning market, emphasizing their unique strengths and value propositions.

3. Market Expansion: By targeting broader markets, AzuraBlu aims to mitigate the challenges posed by the rising cost of living and create new opportunities for growth.

4. Brand Consistency: The brand guidelines and brand packets created by Dr McFarlane ensure that AzuraBlu maintains a consistent and cohesive brand image across all communications.

Conclusion: The partnership between AzuraBlu and Dr Julie McFarlane represents a commitment to adapt and thrive in a changing business environment. By redefining their brand strategy, AzuraBlu is positioning itself for future success, distinguishing itself in a competitive market, and expanding its reach. This case study underscores the importance of strategic branding in navigating challenges.

Revolutionizing International Education with ZOOM Abroad

Background: In November 2022, Dr Julie McFarlane, embarked on an impactful consulting project with ZOOM Abroad, to develop a series of customised courses designed to create a 2+1 degree program. ZOOM Abroad aspired to expand its offerings to include accredited programs and foster collaborations with esteemed Indian and UKHEIs

About ZOOM Abroad: ZOOM Abroad is an innovative EdTech organization that has set its sights on becoming a premier platform for career counselling and global recruitment of international students. At the heart of their success lies a vibrant community of advisors, educators, and international students, collectively working to provide aspiring learners with extraordinary experiences. With a robust community comprising over 50,000 students, ZOOM Abroad is unwavering in its commitment to helping individuals find their “best fit” in international education. 

The Challenge: ZOOM Abroad recognized the evolving landscape of international education and the growing demand for innovative, accredited programs that bridge the gap between various higher education systems. The challenge was to develop a 2+1 degree program that not only met these demands but also fostered partnerships with Indian and UKHEIs. Dr Julie McFarlane was brought on board to address the curriculum development challenge.

The Solution: Dr Julie McFarlane, leveraging her expertise and experience, worked closely with the ZOOM Abroad team to design a series of customised courses tailored to create a 2+1 degree program. These courses were meticulously crafted to align with the evolving needs of international students and the requirements of partnering HEIs in India and the UK. 

Outcome and Impact: The collaboration between Dr Julie McFarlane and ZOOM Abroad is ongoing but has yielded significant outcomes:

1. Innovative Program Development: The creation of the first year, of a 2+1 degree program, offering a unique pathway for students seeking globally recognised qualifications.

2.  Partnership Opportunities: The project paved the way for strategic collaborations with Indian and UK HEIs, expanding ZOOM Abroad’s reach and influence in the industry.

Conclusion: The consulting engagement between Dr Julie McFarlane and ZOOM Abroad exemplifies the potential for transformation in the international education sector. By harnessing expertise and innovation, ZOOM Abroad is poised to offer aspiring students a unique educational journey. This case is an example of AEE’s commitment to excellence, adaptability to industry changes, and dedication to empowering students worldwide on their path to fulfilling careers.

Strathclyde University – Spin-out Process Clarification and Investment Facilitation (2022)

Project Overview: In June 2022, AEE’s founder Dr Julie McFarlane was engaged by Strathclyde University’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO) to collaborate with academics on a mission to streamline the spin-out process and provide invaluable assistance to those in pursuit of investment for funding rounds.

The Challenge: Strathclyde University recognized the need to enhance the spin-out process and equip academics with the tools and guidance required to successfully navigate the intricacies of entrepreneurship. Additionally, they sought assistance in securing vital investments to support the growth of innovative ventures.

The Solution: Dr Julie McFarlane brought her wealth of experience to the project, working closely with academics at Strathclyde University. Together, they devised a comprehensive strategy to simplify the spin-out process, making it more accessible and efficient. This involved clarifying each step, from ideation to execution, to empower academics to bring their innovations to market effectively.

Furthermore, Dr McFarlane played a pivotal role in facilitating the funding journey. She provided invaluable insights into the investment landscape, helping academics prepare compelling pitches and navigate the intricacies of funding rounds. Her mentorship and guidance were instrumental in increasing their chances of securing essential investments.

The Impact: The collaboration with Dr Julie McFarlane significantly improved the spin-out process at Strathclyde University. Academics gained clarity and confidence in bringing their innovations to market, contributing to the university’s reputation as a hub for entrepreneurship.

Moreover, Dr McFarlane’s guidance in investment facilitation proved invaluable, as academics successfully navigated funding rounds and secured the resources necessary to advance their groundbreaking projects. The partnership with Dr Julie McFarlane underscored Strathclyde University’s commitment to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship within its academic community, leading to impactful outcomes for both academics and the university as a whole. link to the Institutions start-up school for academics.