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Year 12s Rise to BEST Day Challenges

Friday, 23 September 2016

Girls in Year 12 took part in the annual Business Enterprise Skills Training Day, or BEST Day, to develop their soft skills. This day of activities was designed to stretch the girls’ abilities and help them to increase their business acumen in group tasks and through talks from experts.

The morning opened with a warm-up task which asked pupils to come up with an innovative new idea within their groups, including costs and profits for the first year. This short assignment encouraged the girls to work successfully within their teams and got them into the right frame of mind for the rest of the day.

The keynote address was given by Fiona Gibson, Managing Director at Accenture. Her talk focused on putting the skills that the girls would be learning about throughout the BEST Day into a real-world setting, through the context of her own career. In addition, Fiona briefly discussed the skills that all entrepreneurs need in order to succeed, including preparation, hard work, and a willingness to fail and see it as an opportunity to try again a different way. She also talked about the workforce of the future, and although application of robotics in some areas of business and industry may make certain jobs obsolete, this will at the same time create new avenues of employment that haven’t been thought of yet. Her inspirational address made for an excellent opening to the day.

Afterwards the Year 12 pupils dispersed to take part in a series of sessions.

Groups took part in a marketing task with Nadia Rae in which they had to design their own afternoon tea package, tailored for the 16-25 age group, and explain how they would market the idea. Nadia is a talented entrepreneur and baker who, after two and a half years creating specialist tea parties all over London in private homes and high-profile venues, opened My Secret Tea Room earlier this year. She gave the girls lots of tips on creating a business idea and emphasised the importance of Marketing as a tool in getting a product or concept to succeed. She then pitted the teams and their afternoon tea packages against one another in a series of small competitions each session, and was impressed with the variety and creativity of their ideas.

Independent Career Coach Stephanie Foster asked the girls to create and pitch a new idea for a sleeping bag in a task styled after Dragon’s Den. Stephanie specialises in career coaching, assessment centre design and delivery, competency based training and assessment, and recruitment selection. She has worked with a range of organisations, including BAE, The Design Council, Manchester Airport, HSBC and Manchester United, and recently became an adviser and volunteer for the Princes Trust. She has used her expertise to deliver a variety of workshops to the Sixth Form in recent years. Her activity got girls to think about what unique selling points their product would have and think outside the box, also asking them to work on their presentation skills as they competed for who would win Stephanie’s ‘funding’ after their pitch.

The girls heard from Jonathan Bailey, a Student Recruitment Officer at the University of Nottingham, who spoke to the groups on the subject of presentation skills. In this highly useful session, he discussed the importance of planning and preparation, the different structures and styles that can be used and what difference this might make for the audience, and the use of images in presentations. He also talked more generally about communication skills and some techniques to use when giving presentations.

A final session was run by Bolton School staff. The girls were asked to evaluate business ideas for university students, choose their best three and then present to the rest of the group, explaining how they might develop one of them and make it work in the real world. Some of their ideas were ingenious!

The BEST Day helped the Year 12 pupils to develop their skills through these enjoyable and educational tasks, and the experience will hopefully come in useful for them in future.

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Keynote Speaker Fiona Gibson with some of the Year 12 girls

Keynote Speaker Fiona Gibson with some of the Year 12 girls

Pupils presenting their ideas in a

Pupils presenting their ideas in a 'Dragon's Den' challenge

Young entrepreneur Nadia Rae ran one of the BEST Day sessions

Young entrepreneur Nadia Rae ran one of the BEST Day sessions