Employer mentoring scheme is simply fizzing with success

Published: 30 May 2007 at 15:03

Britvic Soft Drinks, one of the two leading soft drinks businesses in Great Britain, is just one of a growing number of local companies that has been supporting the Employer Mentoring Scheme at Anglia Ruskin University which has just concluded its 2006-2007 programme with its annual awards ceremony at the Central Baptist Church in Chelmsford (23 May).

Some Brand Managers from the company’s Chelmsford head office, who had completed their degrees locally with Anglia Ruskin, decided to support the mentoring scheme by becoming mentors themselves and Adrian Phillips (22), a second year student on a BA (Hons) Business Marketing degree course, is just one of the student mentees who has benefited from the four year link up.

Adrian, who lives near Bishop’s Stortford, was assigned on a mentoring placement with Lauretta Taupin, Britvic Soft Drinks Corporate Responsibility Advisor, to gain work-based skills, experience and a real life understanding of what it is like to work in one of the top named companies in the UK. He was given various tasks to complete within the Corporate Affairs Department encompassing the areas of corporate responsibility, employee communications, media communications and public affairs.

Describing her initial meet up with her mentee, Lauretta said:

“My first experience of meeting Adrian was to see him in a local production, playing the lead role in the Broadway hit 42nd Street. From this first encounter, it became obvious that I was not going to be working with a shy person who lacked confidence.”

“As soon as we started working together I realised how enthusiastic he was and how keen he was to know everything about the company set up and what the various roles involve – from Brand Managers to Public Relations Managers and beyond.”

“I have learned a great deal from my mentoring experience and the presence of this lively and hard working under-graduate has certainly brought many benefits to our company.”

Adrian also speaks enthusiastically about the scheme:

“This really has given me a better insight into the complex world of marketing. I had previously worked in a highly competitive sales position which I found was an altogether different experience. I am particularly interested in the role of PR professionals and with the help of Lauretta and her team I am now very much more aware of how they fit into the corporate team, the skill requirements they need to succeed, and the many and varied challenges of the job.”

“This experience has helped me to work out what I want to do when I complete my degree. It has been an invaluable experience and I am very grateful to my mentor for the help and encouragement she has given me.”

Joan Newton, Head of Careers, at Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford campus and the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Michael Thorne, welcomed the 70 mentor and mentee pairs who had participated in this year’s programme to the awards event.

Commenting on the programme, Joan said:

“We are very proud of this incredibly fast-growing and responsive scheme which is now firmly embedded into the business community. Education is at its most effective when linked to real world employment.This scheme brings rich, reciprocal benefits to employers and students alike which is exactly what we need as a county to help to keep Essex at the forefront of new business development and change.”

During the celebratory event, the participating students and their employee mentors received certificates to acknowledge their contribution to the scheme which has seen them working together in a mentoring relationship for a period of six months. Professor Thorne, and Susan Turner, Britvic’s Head of Public Affairs, presented the certificates at the event which was attended by over 200 people.

Employers nationally identify the lack of business awareness among graduates as being a significant barrier to progress.  Addressing this criticism six years ago, Anglia Ruskin University developed its Employer Mentoring Scheme, a targeted program giving second year students an opportunity to be supported and mentored by a graduate or professional from local organisations on a one-to-one basis. 

Mentoring organisations are drawn from across a variety of fields including Legal, Financial, Housing, IT, Built Environment, HR and Marketing as well as Local Government. 

Jan Haldane, Employer Mentoring Coordinator, explains:

“Each mentor helps a student to evaluate and enhance their personal skills and commercial awareness. The process provides many opportunities for the students to gain knowledge and experience which boosts their confidence and improves their employability.”

Some of Adrian’s skills have proved of direct benefit to him. He was recently offered no less than three separate summer placements. The placement he accepted was the one offered by his now very familiar mentoring sponsors - Britvic Soft Drinks.

Through the mentoring scheme, Anglia Ruskin University is able to pursue its goal of developing and sustaining links and partnerships with employers in the Essex community.