Business experience for the next generation

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CRANFIELD School of Management organised its tenth annual inter-county business challenge earlier this month.

Three budding entrepreneurs from Bedford Modern School won the event organised by the Centre for Customised Executive Development.

The centre was recently ranked first in the UK and seventh in the world in the Financial Times Rankings.

This year sixth-formers had to set up a business on a shoestring with just a bright idea, £200 capital and a bank manager prepared to support their business plan. They were also challenged with additional real-life challenges of convincing their non-executive directors of their decisions, dealing with raw material shortages and handling the media.

The aim of the competition is to help sixth formers learn more about the world of business and develop their personal and team skills.

The inter-county school business challenge brought together the four winners and runners up from the two previous county challenges. These included two teams from Stantonbury Campus, in Milton Keynes and Samuel Whitbread Community College and Bedford Modern School, both from Beds.

Karen Valverde, business simulations director at Cranfield School of Management, said: “It’s a great opportunity for the students to put theory into practice and to improve their decision-making, presentation and team-working skills for the future. It’s a very rewarding experience for the Cranfield team.”

Richard Smith, head of business studies at Bedford Modern, said: “The students found the event extremely challenging and also gave the participants a chance to do things they had never done before, such as delivering a press release to camera.

“One of the students commented that it was like being at a job interview or an episode from the Apprentice and indeed some of the exercises were similar to those used by companies when carrying out graduate recruitment assessment centres. This experience will be something that the students clearly benefit from.

“The challenge was made all the greater when one of the team dropped out on the morning of the event due to illness nonetheless the students responded positively and worked very hard throughout the day.”