Newcastle University Business School

Staff Profile

Dr Colin Ashurst

Senior Lecturer


Colin qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1983 and then moved into IT and management consulting with PwC. More recently, Colin held various senior IT leadership roles with Asda and Microsoft. Colin was Programme Director for the Management Masters Programmes (Full-Time) at Durham Business School. Following 2 years as Director of Learning, Teaching & Student Experience here at Newcastle University Business School Colin is now Director of Global Programmes exploring innovation in education.

Colin has a passion for enabling individuals and organizations to realize benefits from IT and to exploit IT to enabled business innovation. His research and teaching address:    

  • Identifying opportunities and priorities for IT investments.   
  • Realizing benefits from IT investments through agile and benefits-led approaches to projects.
  • Realizing value from the IT investment portfolio.
  • Succeeding with business innovation enabled by IT.
  • Exploiting IT to improve knowledge worker productivity.
  • Building the innovation and transformation capability of the organization. 
See the following sites for further information on Colin's work: Current work in progress - gaining competitive advantage from IT. Ongoing work related to innovation and benefits realisation 

Books available via Amazon

Education & Professional Qualifications

2008/9  Participated in the development programme for Directors of Learning & Teaching run by the Association of Business Schools.  

2007  PhD at Loughborough University – exploring the organisational capability to succeed in realising benefits from IT investments through organisational change.  

2007  Completed the International Teachers Programme (at IMD).  

2006  Postgraduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education.  

2003  Member of the Association for Project Management based on professional experience and success in the APMP exam.  

2002  Accredited as Microsoft Solutions Framework trainer.  

1999  Member of the British Computer Society and Chartered Engineer.  

1998  Bradford University, MBA (a final year project explored the implications of knowledge management concepts in getting business benefits from IT).  

1983  Qualified as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.  

1980  Durham University B.Sc. Mathematics. 



I completed my PhD in 2007, having studied part time at Loughborough University. The work explored two areas: the extent to which benefits-driven approaches to investments in IT have been adopted; and how organisations can develop the capability to succeed with business transformation. 

I am now engaged in a series of research projects in collaboration with local organizations and the North East IT Directors Forum. The focus on innovation, business transformation and realising the strategic potential of IT is a high priority for many organisations. The action-research approach I adopt is designed to engage with participants and help them make a difference. 

A recent project, funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (£73k), sought to build the capability of the organisation to realise benefits from investments in IT. Outreach sessions involved workshops at the Russell Group IT Directors Forum, the Cabinet Office sponsored Council of Local Government CIOs, and EDUCAUSE (US – IT in HE). 

 Current work continues to build on the benefits-led perspective:

  • Developing the organisational capability to compete with IT and realise benefits from IT investments.
  • Exploring practices for benefits realisation from the IT portfolio.
  • Exploring practices contributing to IT-enabled innovation. 
Don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like to talk about ideas for research projects.


The aim of my teaching is to enable learning for life. I focus specifically on bridging the gap between current research and practice to enable participants to gain new perspectives and to develop knowledge and ‘craft’ skills that are valuable in practice. My research and business engagement are closely linked with my teaching in terms of both content and approach. I have introduced a number of new modules across UG, Masters and MBA programmes.

Recent teaching has included the following:

Competing with IT . The management issues of realizing benefits from Information Systems. Includes coverage of the value from IS in specific scenarios, aspects of IS strategy, project management and systems development.   

Elements of Business Transformation. A multidisciplinary approach to business transformation and realizing the strategic potential of IS. A key element is agile and design thinking to enable IT-enabled innovation.  

Consulting. Based on real-world projects.   

Management into Action. Exploring the theory and practice of management.   

Business Transformation.  The strategic issues of managing IS to realize business value.  

Strategic Customer Relationship Management. Exploring the value of CRM for an organisation, establishing a CRM strategy and developing a change programme to improve the CRM capability of the organisation.