Four young Cumbrians who won the chance to become members of the prestigious Institute of Directors in a competition run in collaboration with the Centre for Leadership Performance have been talking about their experiences.
The four are students Georgia Howard and Tom Wright, and Georgina Goulding and Tony Lister who are both employed by companies in Cumbria. The year-long sponsored membership brings them into contact with top businessmen and women while taking part in Cumbria IoD events and activities including the national student IoD conference.
George Beveridge is the Cumbria IoD’s ambassador for leadership, education, skills and apprenticeships and helped to select the four winners. He explains: “The IoD in Cumbria is keen to encourage diversity and involve more young people in our activities. Working with the Centre for Leadership Performance gives us access to the ambitious students and graduates who will be our future leaders and directors.
“The IoD student membership is invaluable for anyone interested in business, whether they see themselves as potential corporate high-flyers, budding entrepreneurs or simply aim to get the best possible outcome from their time at university.”
The successful candidates can interact with the IoD “Guru Panel” made up of experienced people in the world of business who offer expert one-to-one support and mentoring. IoD student membership includes access to the placements and internships noticeboard for the online student community, and the members-only LinkedIn group offering the opportunity to network with students and business leaders. They will also be eligible to attend events once lockdown eases.
Sarah Glass Executive Director at from the Centre for Leadership Performance said: “Collaboration with business organisations is central to the CfLP and we appreciate the opportunity to work with the IoD supporting young people in the early stages of their careers. It is also heartening to see that three out of the four candidates are Dream Placement alumni who have benefited from our programmes placing young people with businesses in Cumbria. We keep in touch with all of them through the Cumbria Future Leaders Forum, and through the supportive companies sharing our vision that investment in young people is key to the future success of the county.”
It is just a year since Tony Lister took up his role as Operations Director at Responsive Mechanical Testing Ltd in Whitehaven and he is keen to take advantage of the IoD membership to add to his mainly self-taught management skills. However, once lockdown kicked in his busy summer of appointments and meetings organised through the IoD were all put on hold and he is looking forward to things getting back on track once lockdown eases.
Tony says: “The IoD provides access to a wealth of leadership experience. Since I completed my original welding apprenticeship I have worked to move up the management ladder, and I am a firm believer in taking every opportunity to learn along the way. Our workload at Responsive has barely faltered during lockdown, but I am determined to continue to improve my skills and knowledge, and the IoD can be a huge resource.”
Tom Wright is completing a master’s in environmental engineering after gaining a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Newcastle University. He attended an IoD North West networking event in Penrith just before lockdown, and feels that set him on course to take full advantage of the IoD membership.
He recalls: “The event discussed the present economic trends and I very much appreciated the opportunity to meet senior people from a diverse range of business backgrounds. I specifically enjoyed the mentoring from George Beveridge, allowing me to tap into his experiences in senior management within Cumbria’s nuclear sector. That sort of access to leadership is invaluable. Once my university work starts to ease off I am also looking forward to taking more advantage of the active schedule of on-line activity promoted by the IoD.”
That on-line material has already helped Tom organise his university work during lockdown. He explains: “I logged into an on-line seminar specifically about how directors can function efficiently when working from home. I was able to apply some of those principles to my own university distance learning modules.”
Georgina Goulding is studying for a degree in engineering at UCLAN with the support of her employers Balfour Beatty, and at 22 is already a step closer to her dream of a project management role with her recent appointment as Section Engineer leading a team of workers. She believes the IoD membership will provide insights to help improve her performance as a manager and once lockdown finishes is looking forward to attending IoD events.
Georgina says: “Our own management within Balfour Beatty are hugely supportive but it is always useful to get leadership input from people outside your own sphere of operations and from other business sectors. The IoD will help me make those connections.”
Georgia Howard is in her third year at the University of Leeds studying biology with enterprise and is nearing the end of a year in industry with a biotech company in Cambridge. She is currently working from home in Coniston. Georgia, now aged 21, took part in Dream Placement 2016 with the Centre for Leadership Performance, and that experience crystalized the importance of engaging with a wide range of different businesses.
She explains: “It is important to learn from different leaders and understand their styles of leadership and the experiences that have shaped them. The IoD membership enables me to broaden my networks and in particular takes me outside the university environment so that I can have meaningful contact with the business community.”