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An Enterprise Adviser's Perspective

What did I learn from my business life?

A huge amount! You don't realise how much you have learned - and perhaps more importantly, what you can share with others.

Initially I worked in engineering in production control then moved into corporate banking, working with businesses and helping them to grow and develop, along with managing through the problems that business face. With this experience, 10 years ago I set myself up my own business, Ken Sankey Associates, to provide SMEs with practical external input with my strap line being 'Helping Businesses Succeed'.

It is often said, and it is true, that business owners often need help in standing back and looking at things from outside the business. From experience I find owners want this external challenge and often see me as their conscience with questions including 'have you followed through the actions we agreed?'.

How do you identify the main issues for the business?

I find that you can flesh these out from really understanding three key questions:

  • Is a business absolutely clear on their priorities?
  • Are management and staff performing at their best?
  • Are plans and changes being put into practice?

It also helps to have client feedback: ”The approach is commercial and practical - and Ken gets things done. He has brought shape, direction and good sensible tools to deliver growth”.

How can you give something back and help others?

Initially while in the corporate world I was approached by a local selective grammar school to become a governor, which I did for 8 years, helping provide structure and focus to some of the schools' plans. In parallel with this I have always been interested in helping young people develop themselves. On a volunteer basis I have worked with various education trusts and schools helping students with job interviews and preparing CVs; this is not just filling in forms, but helping the students understand and develop the life skills that are required in the workplace: teamwork, initiative, organisation, initiative and communication. 

The future generation - from the Classroom to the Workplace

It is recognised that for students, schools, business and UK Plc, there is a very real need to address some key challenges, which have prompted me to join the Thames Valley Berkshire Enterprise Adviser Network:

  1. Helping young people move into commerce by bridging the gap between the academic drive in schools and the workplace demand for life skills
  2. Understanding and supporting the different routes into the workplace be it at 16, 18 or later after university studies

The Enterprise Adviser Network

The Enterprise Adviser Network is a programme funded by The Careers & Enterprise Company which is an employer-led organisation set up to inspire and prepare young people for the fast-changing world of work. Its role is to take an umbrella view of the landscape of careers and enterprise, supporting the programme coverage nationally. Enterprise Advisers work with Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Careers and Enterprise Coordinator and senior teachers, governors and parents to support aspirational careers education.

I have been matched with Edgbarrow School in Berkshire. This is a very successful school with has a very strong Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and governors who want to develop the school; in particular to build links with commerce for a range benefits including work experience, careers advice and local sponsorship. To support this, an event is planned for local business leaders with the local MP, Dr Philip Lee, hosting the breakfast seminar. What is extremely rewarding is that when approaching local businesses, they are very receptive to talking about the flow of youngsters into their businesses. Indeed, several businesses refer to this as their 'talent pipeline' with some having a structured approach and taking in students at 16, 18 and graduate level, and developing youngsters according to their abilities at different rates - and all having real potential to develop. The more we can support these approaches and build the links with the education system, the better for all parties, including UK plc.

The Personal Reward

It is very satisfying. Most of us have spent our lives ' making things happen' and with the Enterprise Initiative we are presented with an opportunity to work with a great team of senior people in a school to help them and the students succeed.

How involved is it?

The expectation is one day a month but it is as much as you want it to be and in practice you are a sounding board and facilitator for the management team. It's great to get your hands dirty and get involved!

For more information on the Thames Valley Berkshire Enterprise Adviser Network, please contact our Enterprise Co-ordintaor, Allison Giles, on 07715 08302 or email: allison@thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk

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