A writing retreat? In term time? Are you kidding me?

Written by Vivienne Neale, Falmouth University

I need time to think

It’s very difficult to step away from the frenetic pace of HE teaching and attend a writing retreat. It almost appears anachronistic when anyone dares to say, ‘I need time to think.’ It’s ridiculous really when this is exactly what we should be having space to do regularly. 

Write, write, write

That aside, I cannot recommend a writing retreat opportunity more highly. The ISBE, EEUK REntEd SIG received funds to set up such an experience at the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre within the University of Birmingham during October 2022. The Enterprise Eleven (+1) convened and dedicated two full days to writing. Enterprise and Entrepreneurial practitioners sat in the Grafton building, a warm Arts and Crafts inspired location on campus and pledged their troth to achieve tangible outputs from their ’write, write, write’ sessions.

We all welcome creative and constructive conversations

It was daunting, yes but what was specifically interesting from my perspective was the gender balance. It was 11:1 in favour of women and it created a supportive, humble, and highly professional tenor. There was an extraordinary array of talent and experience around the table that enabled constructive and creative conversations alongside peer mentoring at every stage of the process.

Accountability is everything

It also helped that the accommodation further highlighted the special nature of the retreat and offered space for reflection and plenty of frenetic typing and revisions. Having committed to specific goals that were revisited at the end of the event it felt managed and accountable. Consequently, every delegate, in the main, achieved their aim or were in touching distance at least.

We wrote and watched prime ministers come and go

The opportunity to discuss and chat generally about our institutions, research ambitions, the state of entrepreneurship, the resignation of the prime minster and all points between was a chance to share and create potential future collaborations.

There’s always time to explore entrepreneur education

Certainly, it was a chance to be amongst like-minded individuals that were all delighted to share tips and tricks, observations, and suggestions. I sincerely believe that everyone benefitted, friendships were rekindled and created too. It was also fascinating to reach into other professional lives and begin to understand some aspects of the varied and important work that is being carried out in this field under the guide of entrepreneur education.

To step away and draw breath should not be underestimated

To have the physical and headspace opportunity to write up and think carefully about projects and ideas cannot be underestimated. I know the organisers could see how successful the event was and how fruitful potential collaborations might be. The size of the group was intimate enough but allowed for discussion across fields These included factors that affect high growth companies; how professional modules can be further integrated and embedded into undergraduate provision; refugee remorse as a factor stifling progression; research collaborations and the impact of micro internships on paid work opportunities. This is just a snapshot of the research work output.

It is a significant investment of time, energy, resource, and brain power

Yet, if you can take the opportunity to attend a writing retreat, especially one organised by UKEE and ISBE, I would fight tooth and nail for the chance to attend.  Like any boot camp, things happen, perspectives change, goals are set and most importantly are achieved.  Having a couple of days to talk to other professionals working within enterprise education is also motivational and collegiate. Honestly, such an enterprise is highly recommended, and I thank Dr Emily Beaumont, Dr Breda O Dwyer organisers for their foresight and enthusiasm.

Vivienne Neale lectures in Entrepreneurship on the MSc Programme at Falmouth University.

Reflections on the role of engaging with Academics to embed in the curriculum for Student Enterprise teams – a University of Westminster perspective

Written by Zsofia Kunvari

This blog post shares insights from the work carried out by Westminster Enterprise Network, at the University of Westminster and does not intend to reflect the experience of all Student Enterprise teams and may not be directly applicable to all HEIs.

Author: Zsofia Kunvari, Enterprise Education Officer, University of Westminster

Enterprise teams sit far and wide within universities but whether they’re attached to Research & Knowledge Exchange, Careers & Employability, or other directorates, one problem often remains: How to bridge the gap between extra-curricular Enterprise activities delivered by Professional Services and the curricular provision delivered by Academic colleagues?

Academic Engagement as an area of activity within Student Enterprise – as well as a job title for a growing number of enterprise team members – covers the challenging task of aligning interests within and outside the curriculum.

My role as an Enterprise Education Officer, focusing on Academic Engagement, started 10 months ago as a brand-new role in my team, without a specific blueprint for how to do it. In this blog, I am hoping to shine a light on some of the challenges and wins that arose from committing to improving communication and collaboration between stakeholders across the extracurricular and curricular provision.

Whether having a dedicated team member responsible for this work or just embracing it as a shared team objective, investing resources into Academic Engagement can achieve three practical outcomes for your Enterprise team.

Better internal communications to generate more collaborations

Efficient communication between Student Enterprise teams and Academic colleagues is often challenging to achieve because of a lack of understanding about which strategies yield the best results. Starting by researching which communication channels for staff are available, understanding which of these channels are Academic colleagues engaging with the most and developing targeted strategies to communicate more regularly and more accurately with them.

Identifying problem-solution fit to address institutional targets collaboratively

By investing time speaking with Academics to understand which precise challenges they face in teaching, student experience and graduate outcomes, embedding enterprise and employability, or other relevant aspect of their work, this will inform the development of targeted interventions which your team can co-create with Academics to address these specific challenges.

Making Enterprise Education accessible without barriers to entry

With a greater than ever emphasis on engaging a majority of students in Enterprise activities, including hard to reach groups, embedding enterprise in the curriculum means giving exposure to all students enrolled on specific modules or courses, instead of relying on the availability and interest of a select few in the context of an extra-curricular provision.

At Westminster Enterprise Network, we used these three desired outcomes to guide the design and development of valuable and long-lasting collaborations between our team and Academic colleagues. We designed of our engagement workflow by strategically positioning the curricular experience as the first engagement in a linear step-by-step journey. The in-classroom experiences designed and delivered collaboratively with Academics, are well thought-through with relevant assessments, as well as the impact on student experience and graduate outcomes in mind. We are aiming to put the students in a good position to enrol into the rest of the extra-curricular activities our team offer to further develop and test their projects.

Our most recent developments include:

Tackling communication channels from the get-go

To circumvent the problem of mass and last-minute emailing, as well as relying on social media promotions, we recognised that we needed a more concerted effort in sharing our content where academic colleagues gathered information from. This included for our team, designing documents in the preferred format for Academic colleagues and presenting edited information to create an intuitive user journey without information overload.

Focusing on Live Employer Briefs as one effective and scalable intervention

Our team acts as an intermediate between industry and employer contacts and Academics to develop bespoke briefs for modules which support authentic assessments. Live briefs are presenting a real-world problem faced by an employer and presented to the students for them to produce a response. The briefs are selected to match the content of modules. Academic colleagues are responsible for designing the assessment, but the brief content is brought on by the employer with the opportunity for students to engage with the employer in a pre-brief Q&A.

With this approach, students get to use entrepreneurial skills (problem-solving, research, communication, leadership, pitching an idea…) in an accessible setting. The students can then decide to pursue entrepreneurship further having had a bitesize experience of the skills and mindset that may be required to develop their own project. In the first trial Semester, we are delivering five Live Briefs (fully or partially embedded in a course) with eight external employers involved to benefit over 200 students overall.

A hackathon to transform coursework into entrepreneurial projects

Built over several years’ iterations, our team is introducing a new large-scale extracurricular event that brings together in-class learning, employability, and a package of funding opportunities available to develop projects. Instead of students having to choose carefully between investing time in extracurricular Enterprise activities and staying on top of their studies and assessments, students will now be able to bring their coursework project into the hackathon to further develop it. In designing this new hackathon, the main objective was to reduce the time commitment we asked of students by designing a bridge event where they could take their existing coursework project and with our team’s support could turn it into an entrepreneurial project in receipt of pre-seed funding to encourage their first steps. After the hackathon, the students would access the rest of the support services on offer.

What we have learnt so far:

Trial, error, and iterations

Not everyone communicates the same way and when a university is so diverse in its offering, so are the problems and potential solutions. Sometimes the response we get is a hard no, and that is okay. You might be surprised to see that if you don’t give up but go back with a different offer, it might turn into a resounding yes. We keep good records of communications and contacts (CRM is a reliable companion) and we iterate our pitch as we go along. What we keep in mind are the overall strategic objectives our team have been set. Not all asks can be addressed straight away, and sometimes collaborations can be parked temporarily until the timing is right. Diligently gathering insights from conversations with Academic colleagues may just be the best way to tackle institutional targets more effectively by bringing a wider pool of colleagues and services to work together.

Be hungry for feedback and evaluate impact

Our team now knows the best platforms where to engage with Academic colleagues and how to collaborate to offer their students a first experience of Enterprise in the curriculum. In my role, I experienced the benefits of building closer work relationships with Academic colleagues, and we have already seen that our collaborative approach appeals. I make a point of regularly engaging with colleagues to ensure I am in the know about how our team can best contribute to enhance their course experience. Alongside this work, we are building a robust feedback and evaluation framework to capture the short term and longer-term impact of this Academic Engagement work through event feedback questionnaires, as well as measuring how these interventions affect the student experience and graduate outcome results.

With this blog, I wanted to share our team’s experience and what we learnt along the way. There is no doubt that Academic Engagement and embedding Enterprise in the curriculum ultimately leads to engaging with a larger proportion of students and removes some of the common barriers. Aligning Academic Engagement interventions with the extra-curricular offer creates a valuable loop which increases overall engagement levels and avoids delivering activities in a vacuum where opportunities to seamlessly guide students to further support are missed.

‘I get by with a little help from my EEUK Friends’ Reflections on IEEC 2022

Written by Emily Beaumont

I write this blog more than a week since the International Enterprise Educators Conference 2022 at Swansea University and I’m still buzzing from the experience!  Being face to face with enterprise and entrepreneurship educators from around the world, connecting and supporting each other to enable excellence is a positively energising experience.

There were many highlights to IEEC2022; the venue, the inspiring keynotes, the range of tracks covering every aspect of enterprise and entrepreneurship education, and how could I forget Alison Price’s policy update, but for me, it was making new, and renewing existing connections.  Around half of the 290 delegates present had never been to a previous IEEC.  I met with a number of our ‘newbies’ over lunch and felt so happy when they spoke about how welcoming, how inclusive, how fun our community of enterprise and entrepreneurship educators are.  It put them at ease and enabled them to fully engage with the range of activities that were on offer.

There was also the opportunity to sit down and catch up with colleagues who I hadn’t seen in person for a number of years.  Between the spirited conversations and hugs I realised that these individuals were more than just like-minded colleagues.  After spending years working together, sharing good practice, having challenging discussions, we had actually become friends.  These friendships are powerful, they have enabled me as an enterprise and entrepreneurship educator to keep going when times get tough, supported me in moments of uncertainty, and they’ve been there to celebrate at times of triumph!

So to all those newbies that joined us at IEEC 2022; Welcome!  I look forward to seeing you again at IEEC 2023, at the University of Surrey and I hope like me, you begin to feel the strength and comfort of the enterprise and entrepreneurship education community enabling you on your own journey to success.

The Impact Research Group – an on-going success story from EERPF funding

Written by Dr Matthew Rogers-Draycott

The Impact Research Group are a cross institutional group of academics interested in exploring the impacts of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education (EEE) in a wide range of contexts.

We grew from an Enterprise Education and Research Project Fund (EERPF) award from Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK) in 2019. The original grant enabled our team of 8 to produce a world-leading review of personal self-assessment tools for EEE competencies, (available via the ETC ToolKit) and an analysis of policy outcomes in the UK.

The EERPF award was central to the development of the group, it allowed us to buy resources and data we otherwise would not have had access to, it gave us legitimacy beyond our institutions, and it positioned us to disseminate our results to an international audience. However, the most important thing that the funding did, and this is arguably one of the least tangible elements, is that it catalysed action – because we had the grant money, we had to deliver on it, and this in turn shaped the group and our values. In fact, it continues to do so almost 2-years later!

Since the completion of the project in 2020 the group has grown and now numbers more than 20 researchers based across the globe who are interested in exploring the impacts of EEE.

Our current projects can be described in 3 broad themes:

  1. A qualitative and quantitative exploration of EEE programmes to ascertain how they are designed, presented, and executed;
  2. A qualitative and quantitative review of personal self-assessment tools for EEE competencies focused on their design, formulation, and execution; and
  3. A quantitative review of UK graduate outcome and excellence framework data to explore what this tells us about the impacts of EEE across the UK.

 

We are active in presenting the groups work at conferences, and have just started to publish in journals, with articles coming out in 2022 and 2023.

If you would like to get involved, we are always happy to welcome new members! We meet once a month during term-time (virtually) to review projects and share news, you do not have to commit to certain number of meetings a year, or take part in any particular project unless you feel able to contribute. Generally, we try to keep things relaxed, inclusive, and relatively informal. You can find more information, including how to contact us on our website or, you can drop Matthew Rogers-Draycott an email.

Educating future women entrepreneurs?

Written by Dr Inge Hill

Dr Inge Hill, Royal Agricultural University & Director of Enterprise Educators UK

When I graduated with my PhD, I was invited to take part in an assessment centre for future entrepreneurs and received a psychological profile with all my results showcasing an entrepreneurial personality – at least according to the construct underlying this test. I remember well the emotions I felt when I dragged myself to the letter box in London to post some paper work – the voice in my head telling me that I do not have what it takes, and that I would embarrass myself. At this time, my postdoc research grant had come to an end and I needed to find ways to earn a living to remain in the UK.

I am sharing these thoughts and emotions as they are not untypical for what some women feel when they consider engaging in starting a business. And remember, at that time I had the test result of fully meeting all aspects of an entrepreneurial personality with particular strengths in determination and resilience.

As an educator, even when not directly teaching entrepreneurship, I engage in building female students’ confidence and resilience. And so many things I do today are based on the learning from many programmes and initiatives that existed then but not today.

I was working with a team at the then Department of Trade and Industry to organise the first researcher roundtable on women’s entrepreneurship in 2001 in Downing Street and was one of its speakers. And I trained to be a women’s business adviser and still have the toolkit produced by the then women’s business development agency in Coventry.

Where would I go today and what information and training would I engage with?

I tried my luck, and was surprised how little actionable information I could find with a quick google search. Inspiring I found EEUK member King’s College offering a network King’s College women entrepreneurship network for staff and students. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/entrepreneurship/develop-your-idea/women-entrepreneurs-network.

Here are my tips on what educators and enterprise advisers in HE could do every day:

  • Share the data we have to alert male and female students and colleagues. Most recently, the Gender Index was published with regional insights. Also alert them about the ongoing gender paygap. We need more women role models from diverse backgrounds showcasing the challenges they faced and how they overcame them. The Gender Index only offers ‘more-than’ middle-aged white women as cases. Where are the young ones and those of ethnic minority origin?
  • Create a space for reflection and a rational way to analyse the potential in business situations and how the future female entrepreneur can seize this potential.
  • Counteract women’s lack of confidence and self-efficacy when you find it. Have conversations with women and seek to identify the root causes of limiting beliefs and share tools to address them. This case study I found inspiring as it showcases how one woman entrepreneur overcame hers and how to create a reflective space.

Let’s keep the conversation going – get in touch to discuss what tools we can develop and what we can do next. irh2018@yahoo.com

Freelancing, is it a ‘real business’?

Written by Megan Powell Vreeswijk

I have had the privilege to work across the enterprise education and business support scene for over 13 years now, not only in HE but around the world with the British Council and NESTA.

Though one thing does not seem to have changed in all this time. I still hear the same terms from some of our colleagues about how we should be supporting ‘real businesses’!

This has (and still does) make my blood curdle. I know what they are ‘trying’ to say (they mean companies that can raise investment, employ people and make great case studies or impact stories) and supporting these businesses is something we do. But what they forget to acknowledge is that, in 2020, there was a whopping 2.2 million people in the UK working as Freelancers (with 44% being female).  This is basically HALF (49% actually, according to IPSE) of all solo self-employed people during that year (yes there were around 4.4 million solopreneurs recorded in 2020 according to the ONS).

And, these past couple of years have made many people sit up and take stock of life in the fast lane, waiting on furlough street or basically realising that there is more to the ‘Life/Work’ balance and are seizing the opportunity to make the change. Freelancing is a great route to do just that.

What does it take to be Freelancer?

We know that you need your own set of skills and a passion to deliver, but what many people forget is that like ALL business, you still need some basic enterprise acumen, a deal of patience, some wicked marketing tricks, a bit more patience, understanding of finance and even more patience.

Taking the leap from employment to self-employment, no matter the form you choose, is an almighty big step for anyone, so having the offer of support is vital for many new venturers to help them explore and succeed.

At NTU, we realised that we had a high number of Future Freelancers, when in lockdown we decided to work with Alison Grade (of the Freelance Bible) and offer a specialist programme just for those who are or who are seeking to become Freelancers. Now, this was not done because we felt they needed something different, but we were aware that they felt their business model did not always fit into the ‘normal’ business support offer. So, when we had over 370 people register for our online programme (pretty much all from Nottingham), we knew we had done the right thing.

Future Freelance support with NTU Enterprise

We are now offering this programme every year with additional benefit to those that attend and complete by getting them registered on the Freelancer Club platform with the brilliant Matt Dowling, which promotes jobs, collaborations and offers additional business support post programme.

IPSE believe that our Freelancers could be contributing as much as £162 Billion to the UK economy, which leads me to note that so many of our organisations and ‘real’ businesses rely on Freelancers to a; get them going at the start, b; step in and deliver on skills that are not within the organisation and c; make up quite a chunk of our education (circa 180,000 teaching and education professionals) and healthcare system (healthcare professionals as freelancers rose by 19% in 2020).

So, when we talk about supporting ‘real’ businesses, we need to remind our colleagues that without our Freelancers, we probably would not support quite as many or such good ‘real’ businesses!

Sources of Data and additional information/reading:

IPSE 2020 report https://www.ipse.co.uk/policy/research/the-self-employed-landscape/the-self-employed-landscape-report-2020.html

ONS: https://www.ons.gov.uk/

Don’t disappoint me: https://dontdisappoint.me.uk/resources/lifestyle/freelancing-statistics-uk/#:~:text=This%20means%20that%2049%25%20of,employed%20workers%20in%20the%20Uk

All figures from IPSE report 2020

An Honoured Position

Written by Dave Bolton

So over the last week I have had a lot of time to reflect. From beginnings in entrepreneurship working alongside Welsh Government to help people start businesses, to my initial skirmish into the world of academia, I have certainly had some experiences along the track.

My initial engagement with EEUK was at an event run at Glyndwr University in Wrexham where I was welcomed with open arms. This was back in 2013 and I quickly came to realise that there was something just a little special about the organisation, but more importantly, the people in it. The same faces kept appearing all the time and everyone was more than willing to share support and advice. As my career has developed over the past 10 years, the support from my ‘enterprise family’ has been a constant. I have looked forward to engaging at events and, of course, the legendary IEEC conferences (my first being Newcastle in 2014)

In 2019, I was lucky enough to be elected by the members to join the board. Having that massive dose of ‘imposter syndrome’ quickly brought me back to earth but, through the support of the illustrious names on the board at the time (you all know who you are), I quickly settled in working on the Richard Beresford Bursary scheme initially and latterly becoming Finance Director in 2021.

I still can’t quite believe that I have been elected as President Elect, and I’m sure that there will be a great deal of ‘imposter syndrome’ yet to come as I think about the names of the people who have gone before me.

It is truly an honour to be working with, and supporting, Emily during her final year as President and also with Megan, the incoming Vice President and the rest of the Board and Executive. We have big plans for EEUK in the short to medium term, but rest assured that the membership body will always be our driving force moving this organisation to the next level.

I look forward to meeting you all soon at our events.

Dave Bolton
President Elect
EEUK

Reflections on the new QAA subject-specific benchmark statements

Written by Professor Andy Penaluna

From EEUK Honorary Fellow, Professor Andy Penaluna

As QAA announces new subject-specific benchmark statements, with a key criterion being a comment on enterprise and entrepreneurship for that subject area, Andy reflects on how the conversation started and the new opportunities for Enterprise Educators.

As many EEUK friends know, back in the mid 2000’s, my ex-bank manager wife Kath persuaded me to join the enterprise and entrepreneurship education debate. She told me that what I did as a design educator and designer when creating value for my clients through creativity and future visioning skills, were part of the goal of entrepreneurship education. I initially resisted, of course, as the entrepreneurship language was quite alien to me. However, the feedback from a rather cheeky approach of delivering the same paper to both the HEA’s Business and Art conferences with her convinced me, and was further confirmed when an updated version caught the attention of Prof. Allan Gibb. He persuaded us to go to Brazil to present our case. There we won a best international paper award, and a seed of a question emerged – how many other disciplines could contribute to what appeared to be a business and management dominated topic?

Where it all started – Leeds early 2010. Hosted by HEA (AdvanceHE) and EEUK, Steve Ball and Janine Swail lead a SWOT analysis for QAA.

I ended up leading HEA’s (now AdvanceHE) Special Interest Group in Entrepreneurial Learning, and the question began to be answered. Gaps were spotted and insights gained, so I presented my case to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. I suggested a new guidance document that could be used by any discipline, noting that theatre and performance had significant expertise in learning to be persuasive, medical education could offer real insights into decision making under stress and agricultural education provided excellent learning into future thinking. I even pointed out that history and classic Greek scholars were excellent at making decisions when presented with incomplete evidence to act upon.

In 2010, at the last IEEC in Wales, I was EEUK’s Chair, and a Concordat was developed with delegates that, amongst other things, called for better guidance in terms of quality of the education in entrepreneurship. Thus, the scene was set, and after consulting 32 of QAA’s Subject Benchmark Statement, and presenting the initial idea to QAA, a meeting hosted by Alison Price in Leeds Met (now Leeds Becket), confirmed QAA’s interest. The only problem was that something as interdisciplinary as this had never been done before, so we were breaking new ground. Tasked with inviting a team of experts to work on the concept, EEUK and its network came up trumps, and by 2012, the first version was out for national consultation, and the revised version was published within a few months. The concept also caught the attention of colleagues interested in Education for Sustainable Development, who subsequently produced their own first guidance in 2014 using a similar strategy. Both have subsequently been updated after National Consultations in 2018 and 2021.

QAA Quality Enhancement Network event in Glasgow – discussing potential links between enterprise and QAA Subject Benchmark Statement

As some of you will have noticed, we have now turned full circle, as the most recent suite of Subject Benchmark Statement all include Sustainability and Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. 14 examples, from Archaeology to Chemistry and from Earth Science to Policing echo Neil Coles’ seminal work on the A to Z of Enterprise, which in turn had caught the eye of Lord David Young in his ‘Enterprise for All’.

Key learning from the QAA’s work was that examination-dominated curriculum leads to learning for hindsight, as we can only talk about the past when dealing with certainty of facts. As a designer, I learned to develop opportunity spotting, which we termed insights. When insights are linked, they offer foresight, where well-informed best guesses come together to provide a vision of the future. It will therefore come as no surprise that each new Subject Benchmark is based on what they call ‘Vision Statements’, with enterprise and entrepreneurship at their helm. This makes the work of EEUK members more transparent to a range of disciplines and with increased visibility, increased demand is likely to follow.

The work of EEUK has never been more important.

Andy Penaluna, Professor Emeritus at University of Wales Trinity Saint David

 

Further information

QAA’s launch of 14 new Benchmark Statement can be found at: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/news-events/news/qaa-launches-first-suite-of-revised-subject-benchmark-statements

QAA Benchmark Statements per subject:

The 2010 IEEC Concordat details five goals that were determined by delegate contribution. See: https://ieec.co.uk/previous-conferences/action-in-enterprise-education/ieec2010-concordat/

 

Things That Have Made Me A Better Enterprise Educator

Written by Dr Lauren Ellse

Good jobs are enjoyable and fun, but the best jobs make you want to improve so that you can be better at them.

I feel this way about my role in Enterprise Education and I hope you do too.

I have worked in extra-curricular enterprise support at the University of Bristol since 2017 and have a scientific and entrepreneurial background. As enterprise educators usually work in small, innovative teams delivering programmes to meet specific needs, I am often struck by how similar it is to a start-up… albeit more secure. For me, this is part of the enduring appeal, but I have sometimes found it challenging to identify my skills gaps and ways I can progress. Just as we would recommend that founders focus on their own personal development as well as business success, perhaps we need to practice what we preach…

This blog is for those new to enterprise education who are keen to find development opportunities. EEUK has lots of ways to support you and recognise your achievements so please check out the development section of the website, but here are some personal reflections on things that have helped me so far…

Road trip!

Visiting other institutions can give you fresh ideas and allows you to see how their programmes work in the context of their city/town. Importantly, you will meet fellow enterprise educators working in similar roles who are great contacts for sharing best practice with moving forward.

I was fortunate enough to receive funding to visit three universities through the Richard Beresford Bursary in 2018 and would encourage you to apply.

Network your socks off

Attend as many events as you can in areas that interest you. IEEC is the ultimate networking event and a brilliant opportunity to showcase work as well as connecting with the enormous EE community. My top tip would be to talk about something your team are finding challenging and that has a broad impact. Neil Coles and I ran a session on the new Start Up Visa regulations for IEEC 2019. No-one had the answers, but the room was buzzing, and it started conversations which continued after the conference.

My other tip would be to attend events that are slightly out of your comfort-zone. Last year I found the IAN conference particularly insightful despite misgivings that our student enterprise team wasn’t really an accelerator. Conversations with incubator and accelerator managers helped me to benchmark the value on offer at Bristol and understand the challenges and opportunities at a national level.

Join the conversation

Join groups and networks where you can contribute to the conversation and learn from others. EEUK have Membership Advisory Groups (MAGs) which meet quarterly to discuss opportunities and challenges relating to your professional pathways and generate solutions to share throughout the network.  Another group I have found invaluable is the excellent Network for Coaching and Mentoring Entrepreneurs set-up by Dr Harveen Chugh and Victoria Nicholl. This group is all about sharing and discussion, sessions are expertly run and hugely impactful.

Be an advocate and find yours

It is a privilege to work with innovative future founders every day. I always try to find opportunities to be their cheerleader within my organisation. The insight we have is valuable because trends, needs and outlooks change quickly in this field, and I have found this has helped me build internal connections and programme awareness.

Finally, reach out to your network and ask for help and advice. Perhaps you’re fortunate, as I am, and have a supportive manager with whom you can discuss development opportunities with, but I would also suggest talking to a range of more senior colleagues working in different areas of enterprise education. Picking their brains about their career path and how they achieved their position might help you make your next step.

Dr Lauren Ellse, Enterprise Adviser, University of Bristol

The Queen and I

Written by Kate Beresford

 

Just as Queen Elizabeth II reflects on her 14 UK Prime Ministers, I have been thinking about the 14 wonderful Chairs and Presidents of Enterprise Educators UK, all of whom I have been honoured to work with since 2006.

In 2011 when I started my current stint at EEUK, Professor Andy Penaluna was Chair.  EEUK had just gone through a fairly turbulent time formalising its structure as a legal entity, and my regular ‘audiences’ with Andy were about steadying the ship, taking on greater responsibility for leading the annual conference (IEEC), and putting a plan in place to drive the membership up from 63 members.  We dreamt of 100, but at that point, it really did feel like a dream rather than a realistic ambition.

Going back a little further, I had an earlier period working with EEUK from 2006 to 2008 when the organisation was transitioning from UKSEC to EEUK.  I worked with Chairs, Dr Bob Handscombe, Dr Julie Holland and Chris Hall to remodel and rebrand the organisation.  Dr Simon Brown became Chair after I left but it would be remiss not to recognise Simon’s long slog, ably supported by Director and Company Secretary Brian Clements and former Chair Chris Hall, to establish EEUK as a Company limited by guarantee in 2010.

I have mentioned Andy but who are the others from recent years?  Dr Kelly Smith followed Andy and was in turn followed by Dave Jarman, Dr Tom Williamson, Sheila Quairney, Dr Karen Bill, Professor Gups Jagpal, Professor Sarah Underwood, Jon Powell, and Gareth Trainer.  To bring us bang up to date, and with the new title of President, we have Dr Emily Beaumont at the helm of the good ship EEUK.  I have spent too long telling people that blogs must be short so won’t expand on all their many achievements.  However, I do want to recognise Gareth’s recent two-year spell, through the challenges of the pandemic, when he introduced a totally revised governance structure to enable EEUK Associates to have more input to the future direction of EEUK.

And then there was the Chair who sadly never became Chair.  Regular phone calls starting with his usual joke “Hello Kate, it’s your brother Richard” stopped abruptly and tragically in 2016 when Dr Richard Beresford, Vice Chair of EEUK, died suddenly. Richard and I were not related but he was a massive part of the EEUK family, and we were all immensely shocked and saddened to lose him.  The 2016 IEEC gala dinner in Liverpool cathedral saw Richard’s widow, Dr Nicolette Michels, bravely announce the new EEUK Richard Beresford Bursary which, to this day, provides bursaries to support the professional development of early career enterprise educators – a fitting tribute to Richard.

At the end of March, I leave EEUK where I have totally loved working with my colleagues Lynn O’Byrne and Alison Price and the many directors who have come and gone over the years, each leaving their own legacy.  And of course, the EEUK Members and Associates who make EEUK a truly collaborative and sharing organisation.  Rob and Sal Edwards are picking up the reins and I know they will do a brilliant job.  All I can say to them is – enjoy the ride!

But what happened to that dream of 100 members?  Well, we have reached 115, an achievement of which I am immensely proud, that could not have been reached without the collaboration and teamwork that makes the EEUK family a very special community to be a part of.

Kate Beresford

Outgoing Head of Membership and Operations and Director of IEEC, Enterprise Educators UK