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 Yahya Pandor, I am 16 years old and live in Gloucester. I wanted to become part of the B&Q Youth Board because of many reasons – I wanted a new challenge and being a member of a youth board would provide me with that opportunity also I am interested in pursuing a career in business management and this would
provide for me an invaluable chance to find out the behind-the-scenes and goings on of a multinational company.
The Saturday team building and interview day was good fun, the part I most enjoyed, other than meeting new people, was the activity in which we had to come up with a new idea and then make a model version of it to finish it off we had to present it and talk a little about it to the group.
The thing that I wish to achieve during my time as a member of the youth board is to help put in place measures that will allow B&Q to continue to be a market leader and to be the best by providing innovative ideas and solutions to problems they may face.
Yahya is shadowing Fraser Longden, B&Q’s HR Director.
Fraser Longden is B&Q’s HR Director, an appointment which commenced in October 2011 following the end of his assignment as HR Director for B&Q China. Fraser is no stranger to B&Q UK & Ireland, having already worked for the business in a number of HR and Operations roles between 1999 and 2008 before taking up a position in the Group HR team as Head of Talent and Engagement. In 2009 Fraser joined the B&Q China team as HR Director and Decoration Centre Director to help deliver the "Fix" stage of the turnaround of the business. Fraser is married with two children and has recently returned from China to his home in Bournemouth.
Yahya on the Isle of Wight induction weekend:
The weekend on the Isle of Wight was a productive and very enjoyable one. It provided a great opportunity for us to meet and properly get to know one another since the last time we had met we had been rivals. The weekend also consisted of some fun water-based activates like kayaking and raft building which provided us with some great entertainment. Alongside getting to know each other and the water activities we learnt about; B&Q and its composition; the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – what it did and how it was created; and the partnership between them, which resulted in the creation of the Youth Board. We also had the great privilege of meeting Dame Ellen MacArthur and she told us all about her sailing challenges and expeditions. The most important part of the weekend though was when we found out our challenge for the next year which was, what could we do to ensure the future of B&Q? After some initial brainstorming we have set up mini teams to focus on different aspects of the challenge to try and make it easier to come up with a solution. Overall we had a great weekend and a brilliant time and over the next year we hope to overcome our challenge by working together.
February in Kettering
The two days working on presentation and communication skills were fascinating ones. The skills and techniques we learnt are applicable whether it be a small group or large audience. We learned the best way to connect with an audience is emotionally rather than factually and we were given an invaluable insight into how people think and what they like and prefer to hear. We also started our preparations for the Retail Week Conference - finding out a bit more about it and trying to come up with creative ideas on what our presentation topic should be about – how to keep the audience hooked! Overall it was a very interesting couple of days where a lot was learnt.
Early March – Retail Week conference
The possibility to present at an important conference is a job many would be envious of, so to be given the opportunity to create the presentation and to speak was a fantastic opportunity especially for someone my age where something like this would rarely happen. The whole build up to the conference was amazing the whole frantic atmosphere around coming up with the presentations and the scripts and then the learning of it by heart and hoping you wouldn’t forget your lines in the heat of the moment. The actual day was brilliant listening to all the wonderful speakers and learning allot about retail – learning things you would never of the got the chance to. The best presentation was ‘entrepreneurship in retrial’ which was a fascinating group discussion with four retail entrepreneurs and a venture capitalist. Alongside this the networking sessions was a great opportunity to meet new people, learn about new products and ideas and to promote the work of the B&Q youth board. Overall this whole experience has been phenomenal.
31st July - The final presentation
After all our hard work it was time to shine and present our response to the challenge in front of The Foundation and B&Q’s Board. The presentation was well received and many times during the presentation discussions were sparked in regards to the ideas we had presented.
At the end of the presentation everyone seemed enthused by our proposals and it looks like at least some of the ideas will be implemented. After a successful presentation we went out for a celebratory lunch as congratulations for all our achievements. After that we participated in a ‘town hall’ styled presentation were we talked about our project, highlights and achievements in front of all the B&Q Head Office staff. Then there were photographs and interviews and finally the goodbyes came, but with an exciting proposal that we meet up once every year to see how we are all getting on and if our ideas are implemented how they are working out.
Overall the whole experience has really been a once in a lifetime – learning new concepts and different ways of thinking and meeting brilliant people. For me though, the fact that our ideas have not only been taken seriously but are being trialled so it can be fully implemented by a major international company has been inspiring and a great achievement.
End note from B&Q:
As the youngest member of the Youth Board Yahya is continuing to study for his A-levels. His aspiration is to go into politics.
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