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Luxury Brands and Graciousness

It’s amazing what you learn when you are engaged doing something completely different. Last night I joined a group of Business and Education Leaders to learn about the Enterprise Advisor Network Pilot which aims to better link schools and colleges with local businesses. Put together by the Coastal West Sussex Partnership withCoast to Capital LEP and the Careers and Enterprise Company, the meeting was hosted by Bowers and Wilkins in their Worthing Visitor Centre just up the road from the factory that produces some of the best audio speakers in the world (yes there are other speaker manufacturers).

Catherine Brentnall, founder of Ready Unlimited, demonstrated how educators can use their current good practices to articulate an enterprising curriculum in a passionate, example-driven conversation. Georgina Angele, from Coast to Capital followed up with how business can contribute to that curriculum right here in Coastal West Sussex.

The first lesson was just how much appetite local big business has for employing local young people. The second was how willing the businesses are to invest in training and on-the-job development to attract young people through work placements and other experiences. Really, none of that is a surprise to me, the surprise always is how hard it is to connect two such willing partners.

However, that’s not the “thing I learned today”. We were lucky enough to have Graham Haywood, the HR Director at Bowers and Wilkins demonstrate of their flagship product. He played music from Mozart to jazz through them (sigh…so that’s what £20 000 buys you – a whole lot of amazing) and then took us to their cinema to see how £100 000 of B&W speakers changes your appreciation of movies such as Mission Impossible and Gravity. But none of that’s the lesson.

While thanking Graham for his time and the general awesomeness of B&W as hosts, I commented that I was going home to my tiny (not tinny) Sonos system (if you don’t know it you get change from £200). His response was “don’t be sad about that, they are the best speakers in their class”. Talk about a professional response that left me glad to have experienced B&W but still delighted with my own purchase. This is the type of professional behaviour that young people can model when they stay right here in the region and work in local jobs. Yes they will learn to develop superb technical skills, but it is these other “soft” skills that will allow them to be the best they can be.

Dr Lyn Batchelor, Senior Lecturer in Enterprise