Imogen Francis is an Intellectual Property and Technology Solicitor at Shakespeare Martineau LLP, with particular expertise dealing with trade mark, copyright and data protection queries in the public sector.
For the last three years, Imogen has been a mentor on Mosaic’s Enterprise Challenge, a national competition run annually for secondary school students across the UK, designed to develop and encourage their entrepreneurial skills.
“Working with Mosaic is one of the many focuses of Shakespeare Martineau’s corporate social responsibility programme. We work closely with Handsworth Wood Girls Academy (HWGA), a local school in Birmingham, offering and helping pupils through work experience placements, skills workshops and mentoring.
“Personally, I have been a mentor on Mosaic’s Enterprise Challenge for the last three years and have found it to be a well-structured, smoothly run, relevant and engaging business initiative. It’s a rewarding programme for both mentors and the students taking part and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering getting involved.”
The Enterprise Challenge, Imogen explained, includes an introduction to key business principles and concepts such as gross and net profit, stakeholders and methods to market and sell products. It also includes a simulation game to put these concepts into context, during which groups of students run their own business.
They are tasked with choosing their own product, developing a marketing and sales strategy, monitoring the market competition, sales and other figures to alter their strategy accordingly. The aim of the game is to make as much net profit in a set trading period.
Imogen highlights six main benefits provided by the Enterprise Challenge:
- Motivating – “I’ve never seen children so motivated, especially when it can often be difficult to hold their attention. The interactive and focussed sessions coupled with the simulation game are a winning combination and really make learning and implementing the key business principles engaging and fun.”
- Organised – “During a busy work life, it can often be difficult to see how you can fit a mentoring scheme like this in. However, Mosaic make it really easy, with a well organised and structured programme that you can pick up and implement straight away. Course books are provided with clear content to be covered and sessions mapped out, while books are also supplied covering key mentoring tips, skills and suggestions on teaching methods.”
- Self-esteem – “Many children taking part are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have not had the encouragement or confidence to be creative, work as part of a group, speak their mind or aspire to better themselves. The Enterprise Challenge gives these children the opportunity to do this in a safe learning environment and it is amazing to see them grow in confidence throughout the learning sessions as they realise they do have key skills they can use in the future.”
- Adaptable – “Although the content is well structured and set out, you can be as creative with the teaching methods as you like, introducing your own ice breaker sessions, games and examples to help get the content across and really make the sessions your own.”
- Informative – “The competition is dual purpose so mentors as well as the children learn and develop throughout. Mentors are trained in key mentoring skills, methods and processes before beginning and develop softer skills through delivering the sessions as well as brushing up on business skills. I’ve found these skills have come in handy during real life work scenarios.”
- Collaborative – “The Enterprise Challenge breeds collaborative and cohesive working amongst all involved, highlighting the importance of understanding others and working together to create something successful.”