Dr. Sunila Lobo

Job title: Research Fellow

Areas of Interest:


Sunila has strong research, teaching and management skills, combined with an international perspective having worked in Southeast Asia, the UK and Saudi Arabia. She has conducted research in the interdisciplinary technology/business space for more than a decade. This has included EU, NESTA and RCUK funded work. She has substantial expertise in the field of business models; winning a recent prestigious award from the EPSRC as part of a multi-disciplinary initiative called New Economic Models in the Digital Economy (NEMODE). In her work, she has collaborated with global engineering and design consultancies, leading EU technology, media, and infrastructure companies and with universities, internationally, in China, India and Sweden. In addition, Sunila has industry experience in strategy analysis, development and deployment for international telecommunications and global FMCG companies. She has worked with two international "dotcom" businesses, and has held a regional executive management role for one of the then "big five" global consultancies, thus having experience of business models at varying stages of maturity. More recently, her work has been related to the sustainability agenda vis a vis business models, an interest she has had since her engagement with the EPSRC-supported Ecocit Network (wwwf.imperial.ac.uk/business-school/research/innovation.../ecocit/ ) in 2008.


As a Research Fellow in the Design Innovation Research Centre, to meet the objectives of the role and the Centre's aims, my goal has been to establish a research trajectory around digital business models. 

Environmental Champion (Green Impact programme) for the School.

External Responsibilities:

  • Affiliate Member of the Energy Institute, London
  • Associate member of MEGAPROJECTS; an EU-funded project to understand how megaprojects can be designed and delivered more effectively to ensure their effective commissioning within the European Union
  • Reviewer for California Management Review, Long Range Planning, Journal of Islamic Marketing and Construction Management & Economics
  • Global Business Model Community member (www.businessmodelcommunity.com)
  • External Academic, Manchester Business School's Global MBA programme, Manchester Business School, UK
  • Alumni volunteer at Imperial College London's Business School, London, UK

Research Awards

  • Systematic Review of Business Models in the Digital Economy - 10 Sept. - Nov. 2012; a prestigious £3k award from the EPSRC as part of a multi-disciplinary initiative called New Economic Models in the Digital Economy (NEMODE). This review explores the intersection between business models, economic models and the digital economy.

Completed Research Projects:

  • Infrastructure UK Consultancy project on Collaborative Work in Project Teams- (Report/feedback delivered in November 2013), ongoing talks for potential future work.
  • Infrastructure through Life: Technology Use on Global Projects - March 2008 - Oct 2009, at the University of Reading. Investigated the use of technologies for design and collaboration across distributed teams.
  • Soft Innovation (under NESTA[1]) - 2007, at the University of Warwick.
  • ICE-CREAM (EU-funded university-industry research collaboration on business models for interactive technologies) - 2002 - 2004 at Imperial College London.

Selected Awards

  • Highly Commended Award Winner at the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013 - for the 2012 Journal of Islamic Marketing co-authored journal publication
  • Special Prize by the Worshipful Company of Marketors for the best Marketing dissertation by an MBA or PhD student (1999); for the MBA project at Imperial College London
  • Scholarship (£2k) from the British Council towards my MBA fees at Imperial College London Business School

[1] NESTA stands for National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Its aim is to transform UK's capacity for innovation.

Publication list:

Academic Publications

Journal Papers

Whyte, J, and Lobo, S ( ) 'Digital delivery and the project-based firm: Learning from and shaping complex engineering projects', Research Policy, revise and resubmit.

Ramalingam, S., Lobo, S., Mahalingam, A. and Whyte, J. ( ) 'Achieving Reliability in Transnational Work on Complex Projects: New Directions for Research', accepted by EPOJ.

Lobo, S. and Elaluf-Calderwood, S. (2012) 'The BlackBerry Veil: Mobile Use and Privacy Practices by Young Female Saudis', Journal of Islamic Marketing, 3 (2): 190-206. Highly Commended Award Winner at the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013.

Whyte, J. and Lobo, S. (2010) 'Coordination and control in project-based work: digital objects and infrastructures for delivery', Construction Management and Economics, 28 (6), pp. 557-567.

Selected Conference Papers

Lobo, S. and Whyte, J. (2014) 'Infrastructure Megaprojects: Value at the Interfaces in Ecosystems', 30th European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium, July 3-5, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Whyte, J, and Lobo, S. (2013) 'Digital Innovation in the Management of Engineering Projects', Academy of Management Conference (AOM), August 9-13, Florida, U. S.

Lobo, S. (2013) 'New Business Models: A Call for Firmer Foundations', 29th European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium, July 4-6, Montreal, Canada.

Lobo, S. (2013) 'Learning across Megaprojects: Medieval Cathedrals to the Shard', 17th Annual Congress of the European Business History Association (EBHA) 2013, August 22-24, Uppsala, Sweden.

Lobo, S. (2012) Embedding learning across projects over time and space, 28th EGOS Colloquium, July 5-7, Helsinki, Finland.

Ramalingam, S., Lobo, S., Mahalingam, A. and Whyte, J. (2012) Transnational practices in virtual engineering teams, EPOC 2012, July 10-12, Rheden, Netherlands.

Whyte, J. and Lobo, S. (2010) 'Co-ordination and control: Digital objects as infrastructure in organizational settings', Academy of Management, August 6-10, Montreal, Canada.

Whyte, J. and Lobo, S. (2010) 'Digital objects and management practices on engineering design projects', Construction Matters, May 5th - 7th, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Teaching Cases

Lobo, S. (2012) 'Building a Major New Highway: Managing IT Complexity at a Global Scale UK Association of Information Systems Conference Teaching Cases track, 27-28 March, Oxford, UK.

Book chapter (Case)

Al-Aali, A., Alqahtani, S. S., Lobo, S. and Al-Motawa, A. 'King Saud University - The Strategic Transformation of King Saud University by 2030.' (2011); In book: Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases, 1st Arab World Edition, Edition: 1, Chapter: Case, Publisher: Pearson, pp.264-275, Case Section. ISBN: 978-1-4082-5567-4.

Book Reviews

Sunila Lobo (2013) Business Models for Renewable Energy in the Built Environment, Construction Management and Economics, 31:10, 1092-1094; book published by International Energy Agency - Renewable Energy Technology Deployment, Routledge, Abingdon, 2013

Reviewed Entrepreneurship textbook, 'Be an Entrepreneur' at the request of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, & the Dean of the Deanship of Development, King Saud University (March 2010)

Selected Policy and Practice Outputs

Lobo, S. Davies, R. and Whyte, J. (November 2013) Collaboration in Project Teams: Information and digital technologies in a DNO. Report for the DNO.

Lobo, S. (2013) On digital privacy at the LSE Network Economy Forum published on 28 May 2013: .

Lobo, S. (2013) On 'business models' at DesigningBuildingsWiki, the construction industry's Wikipedia-like site: http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Business_model.

Whyte, J., Lobo, S., Neller, M. & Bowden, S. (2010) Digital infrastructure and changing practices in engineering design. Arup Research Review: 50-53.

Stoneman, P. et al. (2009) 'Soft Innovation: Towards a more complete picture of innovative change'. NESTA Research Report: 1-112, Sunila Lobo is acknowledged as making a major contribution to the section on the video games industry (pp. 48).

(2002-2004): Deliverable Report D9 (November 2002); Deliverable Report D10 (2003/4). Two reports co-authored with F. Alavi and J. Barria for a European Union (EU) funded project called ICE-CREAM. This was collaborative research between Imperial College London's Business School and the Electrical and Electronic Engineering School with industrial partners, including Philips (Netherlands), Euskaltel (Spain), and German and UK technology companies.

Selected Teaching & Development Contributions

I have undertaken teaching, supervision and provided leadership in academic programmes internationally:

PhD supervision - 2nd supervisor to a student investigating the adoption of mobile technologies by SMEs in Saudi Arabia to improve management and communication of digital information on construction sites (Prof. Roger Flanagan, first supervisor)

MBA project supervision to students around the globe - as part of my role as External Academic on Manchester Business School's Global MBA programme

Erasmus Teaching Exchange Mobility programme at the Lulea University of Technology, Sweden (26 January-1 February 2014) - gave lectures, one-to-one discussions with PhD students; discussions on potential collaboration on research proposals and joint paper publication

Lectures, tutorials, marking of essays and projects for the module, 'Managing the Creative and Cultural Industries' for Masters students at Henley Business School, University of Reading; spring term 2013/2014. Developed new lecture with a focus on architecture as a creative industry.

MSc Project Management, School of Construction Mgt & Engineering, University of Reading (2012/13) - lectured Masters students on learning lessons across megaprojects; used case studies

Business Organisation & Marketing Module, School of Construction Mgt & Engineering, University of Reading (2008) - devised course material, arranged external academic and industrial speakers, set and marked essay assignment and lectured to final year undergraduates

Information Systems & Mgt and Quantitative Methods courses, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick (2005-2007) - ran tutorials and case study seminars for undergraduates

'Consultant' on Personal and Academic Skills Development Programme (developed a proposal for a Student Advisory Directorate; commended by the Rector), King Saud University

Ran workshops on English for Business for the College of Business Administration undergraduates, King Saud University


2008 - PhD, Management, University of Warwick, UK

2000 - MBA (Distinction), Imperial College London Business School, UK

2000 - Post-graduate Diploma, Imperial College London Business School

1995 - Master of Modern Language Studies, University Malaya, Malaysia

1988 - Post-graduate Diploma in Education (Distinction), University Malaya, Malaysia

1987 - Bachelor of Science (Maths; Hons.), University Malaya, Malaysia

Selected Previous Academic Positions
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Marketing, College of Business Administration, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Senior Research Officer, EU-Funded research project; Imperial College London's Business School & Electronic & Electrical Engineering Dept.,UK; with industrial collaborators including Philips
  • Tutor, University Malaya, Malaysia
  • Tutor & Course leader, University Science Malaysia, Malaysia 

Contact Details

Email: s.lobo@reading.ac.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 7379

Building: Room 214, Engineering

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