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.
My name is Mark Buckley; I am 18 and live in Ringwood in the New Forest. I am currently studying my A-levels in Maths, Art and Product Design. I run a gardening service in my town and design, make and sell wildlife products.
I am so excited about the year ahead with the Board. It’s a really fantastic opportunity and I genuinely believe I really have something unique to bring. I entered the competition as I love working with other people, contributing new ideas and problem solving. I think it’s a brilliant initiative getting the views and thoughts of younger people; I feel that one of B&Q’s key strengths is using a range of age groups, making best use of the knowledge and experience of the older employees and the enthusiasm and innovation from the young. This will benefit the company hugely, standing it well in the uncertain future ahead.
The final at B&Q’s head office was a really great day. Set in their beautiful, brand new building, we were set three team challenges and given a personal interview. These really established my strengths and weaknesses and tested my potential for the important position on the Board. Such a budding, talented group gave brilliant thoughts and concepts from the outset, which shows real promise for the year ahead. The journey continues in October when we meet on the Isle of Wight. I’m eager to see what the next year will bring, especially working closely with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Mark is shadowing Véronique Laury-Deroubaix, B&Q’s Commercial Director.
Véronique Laury-Deroubaix is B&Q’s Commercial Director; a position she has held since November 2010, when she relocated from France as Kingfisher’s Group Commercial Director. Prior to this, Véronique was Commercial Director at Castorama France. She has been with the business for seven years, before which she was with Garden Max and Leroy Merlin. She has spent her whole career in home improvement businesses covering commercial, marketing and buying roles. Outside work, Véronique has three children and she and her children are avid equestrians, often showing and competing their own horses throughout France. They also enjoy swimming and running. Having relocated to the UK to join B&Q in 2010 Véronique now splits her time between London and Lille.
Mark on Meeting Véronique:
Meeting the Commercial Director, Véronique, was a really great day. We chatted about our backgrounds and how she has landed at her job as a director at B&Q. It was fascinating to hear her story, and how she manages and works with her department. As a successful businesswoman, I’m sure she will share her advice and knowledge with me which will be really beneficial towards the challenge and my career in the future. I hope to get as much as I can from the experience and aim to give a lot of energy and time towards the challenge.
After our meeting, I stayed at the head office for the range review. This gave me a really insight into the product selection process and a behind-the-scenes look into the business.
I am sure Véronique will be a great support and look forward to working with her over this year.
Mark on the Isle of Wight induction weekend:
An unforgettable weekend for all of us, packed with exhilarating water activities, team-building and the chance to meet some really influential people, all aimed towards the unveiling of our challenge for the year. I really enjoyed getting an insight into the Foundation and the key ideas they hold with the circular economy and how we need to change the way we shop, consume and live. Ellen is such an inspirational person and her enthusiasm and positively is infectious. I look forward to working with her and the Foundation in the future.
Kingfisher and B&Q are huge companies and it was fascinating to learn more and starting to understand how they work. This has me truly engaged and excited in our challenge for the year and it will certainly be one of the most interesting boards to be part of in the UK!
It was a really great time to get to know my fellow board members, and to take part in team challenges together. I have not known them for long but I can already see the potential of the group and what a great bunch they are all.
Lots of laughter, discussions, and team building, and now the work really begins!
Early March – Retail Week Conference
Retail Week! Wow. A rollercoaster from preparation to final execution. It has been an experience I will never forget. I have truly learnt the time and energy it takes to put together a professional and engaging five-minute presentation, and the teamwork and communication needed to pull it off.
I really enjoyed presenting and this opportunity has definitely given me the confidence and self belief that I can deliver a talk to a large audience. Although I was nervous, it was really great to be up on the stage, with the opportunity to talk to the top people in retail. It was amazing to talk alongside Euan Sutherland and Dame Ellen MacArthur, and I hope it was refreshing for our audience to hear new thinking, and the vision of a positive, profitable, and sustainable future for retail if they choose to rethink.
From listening to some of the other talks, it was great to hear glimpses of what they were saying, linking really well to what we said. I think we showed there really is a value in listening to young people and why our views are so important for the future of retail. I anticipate Youth Board is something more businesses may be looking into now.
One challenge over, the next begins working towards our final project and the presentation of our findings in July!
A whole year has passed and the time to present our findings to the board arrived. I was pleased to be presenting an area of our concept that I was really passionate about and had devoted my time to researching throughout the year. Although it was a much smaller audience compared to Retail Week the pressure was on to get this idea across and keep an audience with an open. I also collated the 100 or so slides of our presentation - trying to keep consistency and working on such a large file across email, was a little challenging.
After a day of refining and practicing at B&Q House, the time had come to present our findings. Two hours later… it was all over. It was a fascinating morning, with discussion, debate and the most interesting of conversation coming from Q&A. It was great to have Ellen (MacArthur) and Jamie (Butterworth, Ellen MacArthur Foundation CEO) offering another viewpoint and solutions to posed problems or giving examples where an idea is currently working within a company in the UK or abroad.
I really believe our findings are something that B&Q are seriously thinking about. It’s a huge redesign of the business model but if Kingfisher wants to create the leader, they’ve got to keep rethinking.
End note from B&Q:
Mark’s mentor Veronique left B&Q’s Board in 2012 to take a position in Kingfisher’s home improvement business in France. Mark did really well in his A-levels and from Autumn 2012 is studying product design at University. He’s already secured an extended work placement with the Foundation and is looking to do the same with B&Q during his holidays.
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