MSc Management students join Tilda for a day

This October our MSc Management students visited Tilda HQ, one of the UK’s leading rice brands. Students got to grips with the real-world challenges of running a company on this scale, especially in-light of Brexit and the shifts it is set to bring, getting a closer look at the internal workings and decisions taken by the business.

Frankie Goka, MSc Management student, commented:

“I really enjoyed learning about the company’s international sustainability initiatives. In class, we learn a lot about sustainability and how increasingly firms are making it a part of their overall business model in order to become more competitive. Ahead of the trip, our tutor mentioned that Tilda is extremely proud of its sustainability records. With our oral exam coming up, I made sure to ask a lot of questions about the organisation’s long term commitment to sustainability, as I believed that it would be extremely beneficial for my preparation.

I found the most fascinating area of their business to be the professional advice that they provide to farmers in India throughout the basmati rice growing season. From a social standpoint, they are able to educate farmers and greatly enhance the key skills that they need in order to become successful, such as knowing how to obtain better quality grains or higher yields. This helps India as a whole as this increases and improves their human capital, which in turn helps their GPD. From an environmental perspective, their advisory services also have a strong focus on sustainable methods of farming, which has numerous advantages such as better water conservation. Finally, economically, with the demand of white rice being quite high in the international market, the advisory services the company provides to farmers inevitably creates another great stream of income for Tilda.

I found the presentations which were carried out after the tours to be quite insightful, we learnt about some of the issues that the number 1 basmati rice brand in the UK has to deal with. For instance, the implications of a no deal Brexit scenario without the rules of origin being waved or amended on Tilda’s operations in the UK. Currently approximately 30% of Tilda’s products are exported into Europe with no tariffs. However, according to the rules of origin most of Tilda’s products are not deemed to be sufficiently British enough, which implies that it will no longer be eligible for those preferential tax rates in Europe.

For several years, Tilda’s cost effective strategy has been to source most of its basmati rice from India and refine it within the UK. The senior representative at Tilda stated that in the worst-case scenario, Tilda will have to shrink its operations in the UK and the brand will no longer be British.”

Aya Asali, MSc Management student, commented:

“The trip to Tilda was a great way to witness a real-life example of the intricacies of supply chain management. Among the most valuable elements of the trip was learning about how the employees manage complexity and trade-offs. For instance, Tilda prioritises their quality and brand preservation over reducing costs and producing in maximum volume, and therefore refuses to enter the label market. Although trade-offs between quality, cost, and delivery were studied in class, the presence of opportunities, such as entering the label market, cause additional opportunity costs which I had previously not considered. 

Furthermore, I found it interesting that waste from broken rice is reused or resold for many functions, including low-cost rice, animal feeding, or rice flower. Yet, the company still struggles to resolve the issue of remaining sustainable in packaging, particularly for microwave rice. This outlines the difficulties of completing the circular economy and maintaining environmental sustainability. 

Most importantly, the trip allowed us to think from the perspective of the producer. Rather than reading case studies of how customer value affects production and thinking theoretically, we delved into the situation and began thinking practically. I certainly felt as though I was experiencing the business world first-hand, and reflected on what I would do if I were a producer or supply chain manager. 

Having been on this trip, I am now able to read case studies with a practical outlook. I now see the importance of viewing scenarios from multidimensional perspectives, including the producer as well as stakeholders, and will be able to conduct in-depth analyses of case studies from now on.”

Find out more about our MSc Management programme at Surrey Business School.