Our columnist Helen Williams of Helping Entrepreneurs Win (HEW) shares how getting involved in The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Business and Enterprise Academy at The Sheffield College is helping ‘build the future of business, employment and entrepreneurship’, thanks to HEW as a source of learning, work experience and personal growth
The Sheffield College
Helen was first introduced to The Sheffield College by Steve Manley when he was in term as President of The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce where he opened the Business and Enterprise Academy.
It was through this connection that Helen and Rachel Topliss, head of employer academy partnerships, and work-related activity, met and hit it off instantaneously.
The alignment for involvement and the ability to add value was most certainly there and the rest, as they say, is history.
During this time Helen, and then later joined by business partner Lauren Brady, has delivered a number of workshops and speaking presentations to the college.
What started off in person amongst the hustle and bustle of the campuses at both City and Hillsborough was taken swiftly online to enable crucial delivery and learning support whilst students navigated their studies through the online world, rather than within their usual environment of world class facilities.
Looking through the eyes of the student is something easily relatable for Helen and Lauren as they both have had experience with higher and further education. Helen studied at University for a degree and a Masters and Lauren left after her first year to start in a self-employed role.
Both paths, combined with the day-to-day involvement in personal development, mindset and business application proves to be a realistic and profound approach that students and staff alike, take a lot of value from.
The key areas of focus and delivery from HEW that support student learning have been around confidence, resilience and self-belief. All of these are fundamental attributes and life skills required as a core foundation – regardless of whether the path leads to an entrepreneurial destination or not.
Transferable skills and personal growth for students are a huge area to nurture for Helen and Lauren, as they know the pitfalls at this stage in life. Along with the professional services of HEW, they can help build the future of business, employment and entrepreneurship by providing this source of learning alongside academic studies.
Education and employability are intrinsically linked, and The Sheffield College are miles ahead at getting this right with their wrap-around services, the numerous on-site academies and the creative partnerships formed that allow for a complete experience for students, not only for their time at the college but when they enter the workplace.
An exciting bridge for this very experience has been built between HEW and the college.
A newly formed project team consisting of three students now line up alongside Helen and Lauren for a bespoke opportunity of work experience and personal growth.
The new project team, a combination of Journalism, Business and IT students, entered a formal application and interview process. The selected candidates are an integral part of helping drive forward the business’s online strategy, with numerous opportunities for them to be involved in social media creation, website development, content writing, project management and video and podcast editing.
Naturally, the students are also now under the wing of two extremely passionate coaches whose daily responsibility is to help build confidence and personal accountability, as well as to allow foresight around the dynamics of teamwork in order to deliver on overarching strategic requirements.
A few words from Rachel:
“On my first meeting with Helen, it was evident straight away that she had the drive and passion about the development of young people that I was looking for out in industry. The first workshop Helen delivered for me saw more than 100 students requesting a limited seat in the audience.
“The workshop was so popular that Helen came back shortly after to deliver again where we were able to include our staff. Students stop me on campus regularly to ask me when HEW are coming back, which is exactly the kind of student curiosity, buzz and energy I set out to create on campus when creating the Employer Skills Academy brand.
“HEW have given their time and expertise and have worked closely with my team over the past 12 months to enable me to trial new initiatives in a supportive business environment.
“Helen and Lauren have more recently been an integral part of the creation and implementation of our ‘Sheffcol Business Support Team’ soon to be launched in the city.
“I am so grateful for HEWs continued and consistent support. It’s so crucial for me that we work in partnership with our employers in this way particularly in times where we need the freedom to not only be creative and take risks but also to allow for trial and error.”