In early 2011 B&Q and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation went out looking for a team of bright young candidates to form B&Q’s first ever Youth Board.
I have always been fascinated about how businesses work and want to study economics and management at degree level. I took part in the competition as it offers a rare insight for someone of my age to learn about one of the UK’s most respected businesses from a unique perspective.
The chance to then work with some of the best business brains from the B&Q Board made it into a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I am also looking forward to working with all the talented members of the Youth Board. Having the chance to shape a company’s future and influence the way that people shop does not happen every day. The Youth Board has a lot to live up to and I am determined that as a team we will give the B&Q Board some food for thought!
Just taking part in the final day was an enjoyable experience – I particularly liked getting involved with the task to create a new product. My team comprised of four members and we were given fifty minutes and use our imagination to create an original product out of materials supplied to us. We then had to present our idea to the entire group and senior B&Q management.
I was pleased to be appointed junior CEO and am really looking forward to the year ahead.
Jaideep was elected the Youth Board’s CEO and so is shadowing B&Q’s CEO Martyn.Phillips.
Martyn Phillips is B&Q’s Chief Executive Office. He has been with the business for many years and was appointed to CEO in April 2011. Prior to this he was Operations Director for B&Q from May 2008 and HR Director from June 2005. He has been with Kingfisher since 1994, originally with Woolworths, then Big W, then B&Q since 2002. Before joining Kingfisher he worked for WH Smith. He is a Non-Executive Director of Hydrogen Group plc. He enjoys all sports, particularly rugby and sailing. Martyn studied Sport Science at Cardiff. He is married with two young children and lives near Southampton.
Jaideep on meeting Martyn:
Being fortunate enough to be elected CEO of the Youth Board, I was appointed with the real CEO of B&Q, Martyn Phillips, as my mentor. Martyn was kind enough to come and visit me at my school for an initial one-to-one meeting, where I was given a chance to get to know him. He explained to me what my role as CEO would be, and how he wants to help me maximise the opportunity that I have been given, as it is something that did not exist when he was younger.
We discussed the application process, business strategy and a variety of teamwork methods. It was a great opportunity to talk to him and it was interesting to hear about how people can get into the world of business. It is a nice feeling to know that any issues I have, I can contact him. After this first meeting, I am looking forward to many more.
Jaideep on the Isle of Wight induction weekend:
In October half-term, the newly appointed board met over a weekend in the Isle of Wight. We stayed at the UKSA, not knowing what we were in for...
Over the weekend, we were given many fascinating presentations. The first talk was on young innovators. Was this meant to inspire us? If so, it worked! It gave us a chance to realise the magnitude of what a fantastic opportunity we were going to be given. Learning about the importance of a circular economy and closed-loop principles and why the environment is such an important issue also struck me as to how we all need to change our lifestyles.
We were told ”work hard, play hard” and enjoyed the latter by kayaking and also raft building, which certainly improved our team work. We also met Dame Ellen MacArthur, who spoke on her life’s experiences, and made it clear as to why the idea of sustainability was important to her.
On our final day we found out our project for the year. At first it felt daunting, but after having some time to discuss it, ideas were rushing through! It is going to be a lot of hard work, but it is something all of us are looking forward to.
Ranging from an eventful night where we were locked out of our rooms, and one of us managed to break a water dispenser, to learning about new concepts that none of us previously knew about. I can genuinely say that the weekend is one I will not forget.
October visit to the House of Commons
In October, as CEO, I represented the Youth Board and joined the B&Q team in parliament, where the company held a reception for MPs. The experience was fantastic as it gave me a chance to see the inside of the commons as we showcased how B&Q has been rebuilding the nation’s skills. I found it really intriguing as it was great to see that the Youth Board was just one of the many things the company has been doing to help people gain useful and valuable skills. This was a great start to my role as CEO and it made me realise the amount of unexpected opportunities I may get during the rest of the year.
December meeting at B&Q House
The Youth Board met for its second official meeting where we were all reporting back our findings and working out our next steps to tackling our challenge. The meetings allowed me to further get a better understanding of how my role as a CEO was different to everybody else’s. I learnt that I needed to have an overview and how I needed to learn how to call the shots! We decided to focus on three main topics and decided on our hypotheses. We want to see whether it is possible to implement a tack back, rent and/or a repair model in the business. We split into two groups. One group focused on each individual part of these hypotheses in terms of the consumer, and the other group focused on the suppliers. I was in neither team as I had to make sure I had a top line view and ensured everybody was focused and were being guided as appropriate. As a result of this meeting I have a much greater expectation of what the Youth Board is capable of, and am now even more excited about our final presentation!
February in Kettering
The Youth Board met in Kettering with a large agenda to be completed. We were fortunate enough to have been invited to speak at the Retail Week Conference. We were given a full day of presentation training, and were taught some valuable presentation skills techniques and tips. As part of our learning, we all had to present for two minutes on what we thought we should be talking about at the conference. This exercise was very helpful to me as CEO as it was up to me to decide from the nine of us who should be the main presenters for the upcoming conference.
That weekend we also visited Think3E – a social enterprise who are looking very differently at waste, skills and enterprise. The visit helped us to make some groundwork for our end of project presentation which we’ll be making to the B&Q Board in July.
The hardest part of the weekend for me came when I had to choose who the main speakers would be from the team for the Retail Week Conference - knowing everyone was keen to do so. It was a harder decision than I thought! Having to make some hard choices has started to develop me as the team’s CEO – I’m realising it isn’t an easy role. I made those choices though and feel I assigned the right speakers and delegated the other roles well to play to everyone’s strengths.
I think I speak on behalf of the team when I say, with such little time left until the Retail Week Conference, we knew we would really have to start pulling our weight!
Early March at the Retail Week Conference in London
The Retail Week Conference is an experience I am never going to forget. There are not many young people in the world today who can say they have presented to some of the best minds in the retail industry. The conference gives retailers an opportunity to learn from each other so that the industry can grow together.
It was great to be able to see some of the talks at the conference, which spanned a wide range of topics. It was brilliant to hear about what the top brains in retail were thinking about, and my out-take is that it comes down putting the customer first and innovation as the keys to success. I even asked Mark Bolland, CEO of M&S a question about what their company is doing to educate young people!
When I stood on that stage in front of such a large audience to present, I was nervous. However, I took the advice given by my board mentor, Martyn Phillips, and harnessed the nerves to deliver. My aim was to deliver a presentation so strong, that all the members of the room would think ‘wow, why are we not doing this?’ We called our presentation ‘Is your business loopy?’ and I’d like to think we got retailers to start re-thinking how they approach things.
The highlight for me was presenting, especially when I sat down and checked twitter. The amount of tweets complimenting us was amazing! My personal favourite: ‘CEO of B&Q’s youth board incredible confident and articulate on stage. Very humbling’. After reading this, it has given me a lot more confidence in presenting.
Late March – Kingfisher’s results
We were invited to witness Kingfisher announce its results at an investor presentation. This was another one of the unexpected experiences, and it opened up my mind just that little bit more. It was great to watch a talk on not just how amazing Kingfisher has done over the last few years, but how the company plans on becoming even stronger in the next five. This was incredibly insightful as it made me realise how important it is to have a long term vision in order to be successful, but also ensuring you have a strategy to help you achieve such aspirin ambitions. Being able to sit alongside city analysts was also great, as it gave me an idea of what I would like to be doing in the future!
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