Volunteering in Schools & the Inspirational Ruth Badger (aka 'The Badger')

Now that my business is thriving many of you know that in 2008 I became a mentor to a Year 11 pupil in Surrey. I am pleased to say that he made it into college, and I wish him all the best with the next two years and beyond.

I enjoyed the experience so much (and intend to take on a new student in September) that this week I've been working with West Sussex Education Business Partnership (EBP). Firstly, in a local secondary school helping Year 10s identify skills for their CVs, and secondly (today) I had the pleasure today of attending a conference at Virgin Atlantic run by West Sussex EBP called 'Grow Your Own'.

It was a conference designed to show how businesses in West Sussex can engage with schools and colleges. Students can learn valuable business skills and businesses can talent spot and potentially 'grow their own' future employees. There were several speakers followed by some exciting workshops which clearly demonstrated the enthusiasm and inititative of students from several schools and colleges in West Sussex.

The keynote speaker was Ruth Badger from The Apprentice (Series 2) and she had everyone enthralled by her stories of entrepreneurial behaviour from a very young age. She revealed how she sold brightly coloured rubbers to classmates for twenty times what she bought them for... and that was aged just six! Her message was that aged sixteen and with the encouragement of one teacher & a local business (in her case the local DSS office) she started to really believe in herself and went on to achieve great things in sales and now through running her own very successful consultancy.

I was very fortunate to attend a workshop called 'Brilliant Basics and Magic Touches' which was a joint session between students from the coast and the cabin training staff at Vigin Atlantic's state of the art facility which has three aircraft rigs. Students used the lessons that they had learned from Virgin Atlantic in identifying what makes the Virgin brand so special... in a nutshell it's fabulous customer service. The students demonstrated the things that made their own school special and they incorporated slideshows and video to get their messgae across. I was impressed with each and every one of them. They gave concise and well-presented mini-talks topped off with two of the Year 10s appearing at the end in full Virgin Airline uniforms with hair and make-up to match.

I couldn't help myself and asked the two girls and Vicky from Virgin Atlantic to pose with Ruth. Well done to you all!

Many thanks to all at West Sussex EBP and Virgin - I left feeling very positive about how business is attracting and engaging young people.

[P.S. The above was taken with my little Canon Ixus - not bad for a point and shoot, eh?]

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