The LittlePod Enterprise Award

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During this gorgeous Autumn we have been busy here at LittlePod HQ preparing for our three-day adventure at Food Matters Live next week. Tucked into our timetable there was another project close to my heart that has been a hugely pleasurable experience for me.

Earlier this year I was approached, via the Devon Business Ambassador group, to consider applying for a role as an Enterprise Adviser*. The purpose of the EA programme is to work with the Business Development and Careers teams in schools as a conduit to the world of work.

I was particularly struck by the statistic that 60% of young people at school today will be leaving to go into jobs that do not even exist as yet. So imminent is the new digital revolution. Life is speeding up again!

For me this voluntary post offered the possibility of combining many of my skills from my varied working life. I loved the idea of being able to act as a network between the two worlds.

I became attached to a very large school of almost 3,000 pupils here in East Devon; the Exmouth Community College. Exmouth is a seaside town and is where we filmed our National REAL Vanilla day event last year.

My first idea to the school to get the initiative off the ground was to hold a competition among the year 10 and year 11 students to produce a design for our stand at Food Matters Live to inform our visitors about our products; coffee, cacao and vanilla. It was great to be able to have an opportunity to work with the business students on a project to do with edible commodities and teach them about commodity trading.

The students divided into groups and they became a team of designers as if working together in their own studios. They were given a design brief, which involved researching the products and their uses. Once they had made a decision on the story they wanted to promote, their next task was to create a design that could be turned into an interactive portal which could be used at the show. The winners of the competition would be able to attend the FML show and see their work being used by the visitors.

Thanks to HSBC (LittlePod is a case study on their small business website) the winning team will also be given a guided tour of their HQ in Canary Wharf followed by brunch in one of their executive dining rooms. Eat your heart out Lord Alan Sugar - these are the LittlePod apprentices of the future!

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Given that this was an extra-curricular activity and the time-scale had tight deadlines (just as in the real world of work), I was thoroughly pleased with the attempts the students made with their designs and I could see that we had kindled an awareness of the world of edible commodities. The next stage for me was to select a winning team that had met the brief and could be easily turned into an information board for our stand.

I contacted people who work with LittlePod in a professional capacity and asked if they would be able to give a couple of hours of their time to create a judging panel. A big challenge was finding a date and time when busy professional business people could take time out - especially to meet on the same day! However, I had a fabulous response. I was so impressed by the care and attention the judges took in assessing the students work. It was agreed that the winners were the ones who fulfilled the brief.

My huge thanks go to:

  • Rene Groot of Indalo ( who have designed our stand for the show)
  • Paul Duckett of Cloudberry Digital
  • Tim Burley of Believe in (designers of our NEW Vanilla beer ice cream label)
  • Rory Green, IT specialist with the Met Office

We decided that the LittlePod Enterprise Award deserved a special celebration so we asked a very special person if she would be available to come to the show and present the certificates to the students. Fortunately the company she now works for gave their permission to leave the office for the day to come to Food Matters Live. The guest presenter will be none other than an Alumni of LittlePod, Aisha Stenning, who is now Information and Business Sustainability Analyst with Unilever. Thank you Aisha!

Hopefully the students will also be able to do a Q&A session with Dr Made Setiawan, vanilla farmer for LittlePod as he plans to tune in to Food Matters Live, via satellite, from the rainforest.

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I will report back next month on how the trip turned out. Meanwhile, I send much appreciation to Cheryl at HSBC for arranging such a memorable visit.

If you are in London 22nd-24th do visit us at the Food for Thought zone stand 599. We have a full programme of activities and talks during the days.

*The Enterprise Adviser Network is a programme designed to encourage businesses and schools to work together to support young people in making informed choices about their future careers – to find out more, click here. Commissioned by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), in conjunction with the four upper tier local authorities, the programme will provide better information to schools about the skills needs in local businesses, so that careers advice and guidance can be enhanced to present the breadth of opportunities in the local employer market.

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