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Lower Sixth Futures Week

Three alumni returned to school to inspire pupils as part of the Lower Sixth Futures Week.

The School’s Lower Sixth Business and Enterprise Day this year focused on addressing the problem of homelessness by providing a new facility in Exeter. Alumnus Owain Astles (2010-2014) provided a keynote talk to set the scene, drawing on his experience of making documentary films on social issues.

Owain explained why people become homeless and some of the popular myths, and showed excerpts from feature film, Sleeping Rough, a docudrama about street homelessness in the UK filmed in London and Bristol that he directed. His presentation, though both emotional and shocking at times, provided relevant information and profound insights on the issues. It helped set the scene for the teamwork that was to follow and the presentations that each group made in front of the professional judges later in the day.

On the presentation/CV day, alumna Jo Murchie, (1991-1993) gave three presentations on personal branding. Jo is one of the UK’s leading personal branding experts and previously worked for Warner Bros as Director of Sales. She described the ever-increasing importance of a consistent and effective personal brand in both CVs and on LinkedIn profiles. She highlighted the importance of optimising search engine results to a LinkedIn profile, so even before interviews, applicants can be put in the best light. Jo went on to develop ideas on the best use of LinkedIn, such as being part of groups and clearly signposting key skills, which might give pointers to many people who might want to get in touch about applying for a job.

An inspirational part of Futures Week was the talk on the challenges of starting up a new business. Alumnus Giles Humphries (1997-2004) created his own start-up business, the recipe box company Mindful Chef in 2015, with two close friends from school, Myles Hopper (1995-2006) and Rob Grieg-Gran (1998-2003). During the Lower Sixth talk, he explained how they came up with the innovative idea of healthy and nutritional meals containing high quality, locally sourced ingredients with fish, meat and vegan menus to be delivered by Mindful Chef to the addresses throughout the UK.

They also saw how there was a potential gap in the market for gluten free food and the team believed that in the near future such food was to grow greatly in popularity. The talk not only helped our Lower Sixth to gain an understanding of the way in which a business is set up, but also demonstrated the many problems encountered along the way, such as ensuring there is enough working capital and gaining publicity for the product.

Of particular interest to many was the way they used crowdfunding to grow the business using video and giving talks to potential investors. Giles later ran a lunchtime workshop for A Level Business and Economic pupils who asked more direct business-related questions for example on the day-to-day logistics of running the company. This was particularly beneficial as it gave further insights concerning particular aspects of Mindful Chef as a business, for instance their methods for ensuring their excellent quality control of products, the different sources of finance used, how the production line in the warehouse works and how they identified their specific aims and objectives when starting up the business.

We are grateful to all our alumni for giving up their time to return to school and talk to pupils about different career paths.