The Great Business Debate team took its roadshow to Yorkshire and the Humber last week to talk about business trust with six businesses across the region.
We started off in York meeting Fay Treloar, Director of External Engagement at York St John University, a university with a growing business school that emphasises the importance of doing business ‘the right way’. Fay told us about the University’s high graduate employability with 95% of students finding a job 6 months after graduation. We also learnt about the work the University does around the City to encourage graduates to remain in the area once they’ve graduated.
We then travelled to Leeds to meet with Asda Resourcing Manager, Jane Kidd, to hear about the four-week placements Asda offers to NEETs. Jane told us how Asda aims to give 50% of those who undertake the placement a full time role after completing the course. We also heard about the ‘Feeding Britain’s Future’ programme which sends employees from Asda into schools to talk about career opportunities in the retail industry.
Next on the itinerary was Bradford and the chance to hear from Richard Owen-Hughes, Marketing Director at business services’ company SPS. Renowned for ‘Driver Hire UK’, the UK’s largest provider of transport and logistics recruitment services, Richard told us about the importance of keeping a ‘local’ ethos whilst growing the business. Richard also revealed the hard work they have put in to develop a strong culture of pride in the business, with a recent internal survey revealing a huge 94% of respondents saying they were either proud or very proud to work for the organisation.
After a nights rest the team moved on to Leeds to meet with David Gill and his colleagues at Northern Gas Networks. David and his team told us about how the business had undergone a huge cultural change over the last few years to make customer service their overarching priority. Success hinged on involving the entire organisation in the change, but one great story involved hearing about how the CEO, Mark Horsley, set up a company wide meeting at 7am every Friday to go over customer complaints.
We then hit the motorway and made our way to Hull to meet with Paul Sewell, Managing Director at Sewell Group, to hear from Paul and Marketing Manager, Claire Harrison, about how they’ve integrated social responsibility into everything they do We were fortunate enough to be given a glimpse inside the Tommy Coyle Academy, a boxing gym that the Sewell Group have set up with local boxing hero Tommy Coyle to provide free gym access to local children.
The trip was then brought to a close with a visit to Sheffield to meet with Diane Jeffrey, Marketing Manager at SIG to hear about Construction United, an initiative set up by SIG in collaboration with the construction industry to help secure the workforce of the future. Diane told us about the campaign’s focus on careers, looking at the current skills shortage in construction, and also on caring, particularly the importance of tackling the issue of mental health.
Thanks to all the businesses for taking the time to host us, and in particular to Beckie Hart and the rest of the team in our Yorkshire and the Humber office for setting up such a great visit.