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Jul. 15th, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
Glad you're still involved with this - it was one of the first things I thought about when the idiots let you go. I do miss the commentary you used to give, though, about why some people impressed you etc. Has it got bigger over the years - more schools taking part, more businesses involved? The challenges certainly look 'slicker'/more business-like for lack of a better word, and there seem to be a lot more awards!
Jul. 15th, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Don't be too rude about "the idiots" though - one of the last things I did before I left was to persuade them to fund YH! (While the other employers devote a lot of time and donate some things in kind, JOLF is the only one to back it financially.)

I did post some thoughts on Facebook which you probably won't have seen, but I'll copy them here just for you!

First of all, the full list of winners, which will provide some context for the later comments:

First overall and officially Plymouth's Most Employable 17-Year-Old - Amy Leverson
2nd overall - Annie Cobbold
3rd overall - Alex Donnelly

Best team - Team 3 (Megan Lake, Gemma Kerr, Isobel Quick, George Gray, James Henniker, Paul Vallis, Alasdair Sturgeon, Sarah Staples, Aaron Jacques)

Best Future IT Consultant, sponsored by ATOS: Tobias Schmidt

Best Future Digital Marketer, sponsored by Clare Associates: Francesca Jacks / Gemma Kerr

Best Future Lawyer, sponsored by Browne Jacobson: Alex Donnelly

Best Future Construction Industry Professional, sponsored by Balfour Beatty: Millie Coombes

Best Future Accountant, sponsored by KPMG: Mikaela Rundle

Best Future Construction & Property Consultant, sponsored by Bailey Partnership: Paul Vallis

Best Future Clothing Manufacturer / Designer, sponsored by Frontline Image: Victoria Stace / Rhiannon Dumper

Best Future Rail Engineer, sponsored by Atkins: Millie Coombes

PS Happy belated birthday!
Jul. 15th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's very good to know re. JOLF - kudos to them, and to you. And thank you for the birthday wishes :-)

Thanks for that commentary, very interesting. I think every year I am more and more struck by how much I would NOT have coped with a challenge of that sort at that age - a very clear illustration of how focusing exclusively on academic pursuits is a very narrow path and not one that fits anyone for addressing the 'real world' post-academia (or, nowadays, probably within academia too! Research and teaching are only part of the job, what with all the politics, chasing funding etc. etc.)
Jul. 15th, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
I think I'd have done well at YH when I was that age. But I never had that opportunity and I went through university never really twigging how you got those really good jobs (so when I got one I sort of stumbled into it).
Jul. 15th, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC)
So these were personal notes I wrote for the YH facebook group:

"Before I forget, I wanted to scribble down some personal thoughts from this year's final. This will be a bit of a stream-of-consciousness thing, but bear with me...

This was our seventh final, and although we've never had a bad one, this was one of the best. I think we're getting better at running them. This year, the challenge went as smoothly as we could hope for. Great venue. Nicky Puckey did a fantastic job of basically running everything that wasn't directly related to the challenge while Andy Moore wrote a brilliant challenge that the other sub-challenges could hang off. Both of them put in a lot of work.

I was completely exhausted by the end, so god knows what the rest of you were feeling. All I had to do was judge and announce the winners.

That said, deciding on the winner was the hardest decision we've ever had in judging YH. It took ages to separate the final three. So well done Amy Leverson, but also Annie Cobbold and Alex Donnelly, because you two were very, very close.

On a personal level, I'm really pleased with my pair of Best Future Digital Marketers. The perfect digital marketer would be a combination of Francesca Jacks and Gemma Kerr. Since it's not possible to merge them into a single person, they both had to win. Gemma more than anyone else got the importance of using maths to work out the best forms of advertising (i.e. the most cost-effective and the best reach). Francesca I think had more creative ideas than anyone else in the entire competition.

You lot are easily the most multi-talented bunch of finalists we've ever had. I'll repeat what I said earlier today - even for those of you aiming for exotic artistic careers, the skills you've shown over the last two days show that you should have a good fallback.

This isn't why she came in the top three, but Alex Donnelly did make a good first impression when the first thing she said to me was "I love your moustache!".

We didn't give out style points, but if we did, then Grace Allum would get some for that jumpsuit.

It's great to see younger brothers and sisters of previous finalists. We had two this year - Annie Cobbold and David Bramwell. It's even better when, in the case of Annie, she does ever so slightly better than her big brother...Harry Cobbold.

In an ideal world, we'd have even longer to run the final so that we could get to know you all better. Occasionally after friending someone on Facebook I see some interesting detail. For example, Mikey Major I see comes from Ellesmere Port. That's (almost) my part of the world. I was born and grew up in Wrexham and before we moved to Cornwall, we lived in Mickle Trafford.

Jul. 15th, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC)
OK Team 3, since you spent two days with her, tell me - did Isobel Quick ever stop smiling?

It was only after I spoke to her after the awards that I realised that Gemma Kerr, whom I'd just named joint Best Future Digital Marketer, has the same favourite author as me, is also a Doctor Who fan, and is also about to take up one of my other hobbies. That's really cool.

In the presentations, I thought that the hardest questions generally came from Guy Sheer Bolt, and the person who dealt with them the best was Paul Vallis. Guy can confirm this, but that's probably a big reason for his award.

One day, some poor backbench MP is going to be scared of Sarah Staples. Possibly every backbench MP and most ministers are going to be scared of Sarah Staples. Seriously, good luck with an ambitious career, Sarah.

As well as representing Clare Associates (www.clareassoc.co.uk), I was also there today representing the Tamar Valley Tourism Association (www.welovethetamarvalley.co.uk). A big resort like this would have a huge impact on the typical TAVATA member (mostly small B&Bs and holiday cottages), but would that be good or bad? The only person I saw address this key point was Aaron Jacques, and he did it immediately before I was going to ask it as a question!

I said to Rhiannon Dumper that in my experience, people called "Rhiannon" either have Welsh parents or parents who are Fleetwood Mac fans. Turns out that in Rhiannon's case, it's both! (Oh, and 'Rhiannon' is my favourite song.)

Tom Sparrow seemed to spend a day and a half sitting with his legs at an awkward angle in front of that computer. But his team benefitted from an excellent piece of spreadsheet work. Tom, as much as anyone in this competition, you have some tough choices to make in terms of your next steps in life, especially if you do want to run your own business.

Team 4's marketing sub-team of Francesca, Rhiannon and Rob Griffiths worked really well together. Complementary skills.

Rob, I know I said this as the Impact Workshop, but it's rare to come across someone at your age with such an authoritative voice. If ever anyone had to presence to give orders and have them instantly obeyed, it's you.

Tanaka would get style points for today's waistcoat. Very cool.

I know we mentioned Annabel Jane Kennedy's opera singing several times, but it's also worth noting that her billboard advert was by some distance the best that we saw. Great logo, and perfectly proportioned to see as you whizzed past on the motorway.

Cait Gerry - if I'd have given an honorary mention for the marketing challenge, it would have been to you. You did good work. I remember from your heat, when you did the Clare Associates challenge that you were one of the few people who just 'got it' when it came to pitching ads at the right level.

James Snell and Chay Snowdon - how cool were those suits? I'd never be able to carry that off.

Tobias Schmidt, let's be honest, had to cope with a massive handicap. It's not just that English wasn't your first language, it's that the challenge assumed so many pieces of 'common knowledge' that perhaps aren't common knowledge at all for someone from another country.

Victoria Stace - very strong all-round performance, and you're a very slick, very professional presenter.

I want to mention something that Rory McCarthy did that impressed the judges. It would be fair to say that your journalist interview with Jon McKnight didn't go brilliantly. What you did that was impressive was that you sought to redress this on day two. That was a good move.

And that brings us to our winner Amy. For me, the most enjoyable bit of the whole event is announcing the winner. Your stunned reaction will remain in my memory for quite some time."
Jul. 15th, 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
We do now have more schools involved, and since we still have four finalists per school that means we're now up to a final of 56 or so. We kept the same number of teams, so the teams this year were about nine people each. I think there are only now two schools in Plymouth and the immediate surounding area that we don't involve.

We have some more businesses involved, and we've lost some. Essentially the businesses have changed over the years, but that's not a bad thing. One thing we did have to scramble to do at the last minute was to find someone to do some armed forces mock interviews. We give every finalist a mock interview with an appropriate interviewer, but ten of our finalists wanted services career. Luckily the RN Careers Office came up trumps.

The last three years we've had complicated case study challenges, which do look slicker. However, they are also arguably less entrepreneurial and less practical than some of the challenges we've run in the past. I'd like to move back in that direction next year. Of course, having larger teams does allow us to run a few different challenges. We're meeting tomorrow morning to debrief and start to think about next year's final, so we'll see...
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