NE Business Leaders forum
Sally Keith

Member Article

Regional business leaders under the spotlight

A Newcastle student has given his peers an unrivalled opportunity to put the region’s business leaders under the spotlight.

Tom Boyle, a sixth form student at Dame Allan’s Schools, masterminded the North East Business Leaders Forum chaired by James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce.

Students from Dame Allan’s Sixth Form, All Saints Church of England College and Kenton School, were inspired - and entertained - by the varied routes the speakers took into their business career and given a wealth of advice on the world of business.

Students were heartened to learn that not all the business leaders had a career plan, while others knew from an early age what their chosen career would be. They were amused to learn that many of them had early experiences of being chefs, working in Whitley Bay’s Spanish City and even a bingo caller in Glasgow.

Despite their varied beginnings, the members of the morning panel all agreed that these early experiences helped to develop essential people skills. They encouraged the students to think beyond their academic qualifications and to be able to demonstrate their enthusiasm and “sparkle”, suggesting they produce an ‘evidence file’ of how they have developed their own passions.

The panel comprised Lucy Armstrong, chief executive of The Alchemists, Matt Boyle, CEO of Sevcon Ltd, Andrew Cunningham, CEO of Grainger plc, Sarah Forster of Muckle LLP, Simon Lenney, head of Yorkshire Bank North East, Jim Meakin, partner at Baker Tilly and Nick Swales, regional director of Rathbones and chairman of the Percy Hedley Foundation.

Seventeen year old Tom Boyle had conceived the event to give his fellow students an opportunity to question regional executives on the state of the economy and the issues faced by business.

“I believe that at a time when the economy is constantly in the news and unemployment among 16-24 year olds in the North East is bordering on 21 per cent it is important for students to find out what employers look for and value.

Engaging with those at the top of the region’s businesses is a great vehicle to do so,“ explained Tom Boyle.

“I hope that having been to the forum students who have the potential to be the next entrepreneur or innovator, have been inspired to study and follow their passion.

“There is still so much potential to come out of the North East and I think this event showed that.”

In the afternoon the speakers heard from representatives from Newcastle’s two universities, together with accounts of where training in the law and accountancy can lead from Susan Foster of Muckles, Richard Bowden, Treasury Partner at Yorkshire Bank, John Hudson, chief financial officer of Port of Tyne and Andrew Cunningham of Grainger plc.

Simon Lenney, Head of Business and Private Banking at Yorkshire Bank, who sponsored the event said: “This is a great example of the talent pool that sits with our younger generation in the north east. It really does illustrate that this region can hold its own with the rest of the country. The pupils at Dame Allan’s have shown imagination and entrepreneurship, with good old fashioned hard work to put on such an event”

Dr John Hind, Principal of Dame Allan’s Schools agreed: “Tom has done a magnificent job to create this inaugural North East Business Leaders Forum. He has shown great enterprise, enthusiasm and drive to put on this event and both speakers and delegates have congratulated him. I believe it is important to encourage all our students to develop initiatives like this and to support them to achieve their ambitions.

“James Ramsbotham’s concluding quip was apt: ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference you should share a bed with a mosquito!’”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sally Keith .

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