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.
Hi I’m Ben Pearson, I’m 17 and I attend Writhington, a Business & Enterprise Specialist School which is situated near Bath. Because my attitude to life is to take every chance that arises, as soon as I saw B&Q were looking for Youth Board members on Facebook I knew it was my calling.
I figured I could stand a chance against other competitors because of my motivation, presentational skills and my fresh technological background, giving B&Q a helping hand in an ever-advancing hi-tech world.
I’ve been interested in management roles of businesses and companies in general since my father involved me in his business on weekends, as it was here I started to question how to gain customer satisfaction with such a large volume of products.
I couldn’t believe it when I was through to the final, and the entire operation seemed very organised. The aspect I most enjoyed about the final was the atmosphere of our groups, as the other candidates were very driven and pleasant people. For the year ahead I’m really looking forward to being inspired by my colleagues in terms of their ideas, and baring the responsibility for a voice in a massively successful business.
Ben is shadowing Chris Ward, B&Q’s Supply Chain Director.
Chris Ward is Supply Chain Director for Kingfisher and B&Q. Chris joined B&Q plc in 2003, having previously worked at Accenture, Boots the Chemist and Marks & Spencer. Since joining he has had senior roles in Finance, Programme Management, IT, Supply Chain Development, Logistics & Store Operations. He is responsible on the B&Q Board for Inventory Management, Product Availability & Fulfilment and IT, as well as undertaking a major role in the development of the Kingfisher Global Supply Chain.
February – supplier visit
I visited a large tiling manufacturing company in Stoke-Upon-Trent which proved useful for our project because I’m investigating many aspects to do with the Supply Chain.
Early March – Retail Week conference
In March we were given the fantastic opportunity to impress the biggest and best at the Retail industry’s most famous conference. Our talk asked the audience to consider if their business was loopy?’ Myself, Harris and Yahya had the responsibility of making the presentation look visually appealing.
We travelled up the night before, in order to rehearse for the big day. First impressions of the conference centre were mostly WOW, although nerves complimented our amazement. After hearing talks from BSkyB and Marks & Spencer, it was our turn, along with Euan Sutherland and Dame Ellen MacArthur to take the stage. Half an hour later, we were congratulated with three rounds of applause, with the entire group agreeing that Jaideep, Mark and Jamie did a fantastic job of presenting. The Tweets then started coming in, all of which full of praise for an ‘original’ and ‘exciting’ Presentation.
Aside from working with the board, Retail Week Conference 2012 has so far been by favorite part of the challenge. I think it’s a fantastic advantage that we did this presentation as not only were we seen by some of the most successful business people in the world, but now we know how to make a presentation as a group!
Late March – Kingfisher’s results
Only a week after we were invited to sit in Kingfisher’s Financial results, hosted by the CEO of Kingfisher PLC, Ian Cheshire. The results were at a prestigious bank in the City and included a live satellite link up to the boards of all Kingfisher companies around the world to enable the City analysts to pose questions about a particular company or market direct to them.
The results were positive and afterwards we were presented with an amazing view of the Thames and a framed picture from our presentation at the Retail Week Conference. Afterwards, it was time to leave the financial centre of London and get back to work at Kingfisher on our project. Through a working lunch we shared some of our initial ideas with some members of B&Q’s innovation and social responsibility teams, which we all found very productive. The day flew and before I knew it, it was then time for me to catch my train from Paddington to Bath, which was leaving in 10 minutes!
30th July – the day before our final presentation
With the projects end just a day away, the B&Q Youth Board has been hard at work putting final touches on its presentation, which is now looking exceptional!
I’ve mainly been responsible for the look and feel of the presentation, although I have been focusing more on a little surprise, which will be revealed to both the Youth and Executive boards for the first time tomorrow after-noon. Today has consisted of a series of run-throughs and small adjustments, as well as working with others in the group to make our scripts pitch-perfect. We were also consulted by B&Q’s Manifesto team, who seemed very interested on our ideas and insights.
After a long morning, we were joined for lunch by some of the Board members in the main canteen. It was easy to now feel a little nervous, with the Board members anticipating great things from us. After doing all we could in SSO, we returned to our accommodation to continue work. This involved smartening up on our answers for the Q&A session and enduring a rather clever photo shoot. Few of the Youth Board besides myself knew why these photos were needed but all would shortly be revealed.
Today was definitely the hardest working day the Youth Board has ever faced, although we had access to plenty of advice along the way.
31st July the final presentation
After an early start (6am by my alarm) and a satisfying breakfast, the Youth Board returned to SSO, for the last time in this project. It was strange to think that this amazing experience was nearly over, as the time seemed to fly by.
As the cut-off time was 9pm last-night for the PowerPoint presentation, today consisted of setting up the room for the 25 Executives and guests to the Youth Board finale, such as Ellen MacArthur and her associates from her Foundation. Although we’d given ourselves a two-hour window to set up before the presentation, the time seemed to go very quickly although it all seemed to fall into place. Before we knew it people were pilling in, ready to see our work over the past nine months.
The surprise piece of work I had been working so hard on kicked off the presentation. It was a two-minute apprentice style video and it was nice to hear many laughs around the room from this light-hearted clip, and the video seemed to relax everyone into what was to come.
Overall, we were very pleased with how the presentation was received, with Q&A sessions that could’ve been difficult and quiet being turned into positive debating sessions, mainly powered by Ellen Macarthur and Ian Cheshire, the CEO of Kingfisher for UK and Ireland. At the end of the two-hour long session, we were delighted to be invited by Martyn Phillips B&Q’s CEO that he would like us to remain in touch with the business for the next 10 years, meeting up once a year in order to watch B&Q’s developments of some of our ideas. The entire group thought this was a great idea, considering we had all bonded extremely well during this process!
After some dinner and photographs, it was time to be presented with our cheques, as well as some nicely thought out messages of gratitude from members of the Board, including, Project Managers and mentors Joe Iles from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Alex Duff from Kingfisher/B&Q. To sum up, the entire Youth Board process was the best experience I have ever had, showing me that if dedication and motivation is occupant, you can achieve anything. Not only had this process taught me skills regarding how to communicate and progress in a quickly-moving retail chain, but it had also taught me how to time manage including the need to build in the time for travel - like catching a train.
Although Jaideep, our CEO has reminded us many times, we mustn’t forget how far we have progressed since that great day in September, where we made the final nine. With Supply Chain prospects and business techniques in mind from my Director, Chris Ward, my next steps are to study Physical Geography at Exeter University, before hopefully entering the trade.
I would like to thank everyone at B&Q and The Ellen MacArthur Foundation who made it possible for this opportunity to be so enjoyable and beneficial, as well as the rest of the Youth Board who I’m sure will grow to be very successful.
End note from B&Q:
Ben did exceptionally well in his A-levels achieving the equivalent of three A’s and an A* in his A-levels and secured his place to study Geography at University this year.
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