From Monday 6 October until Sunday 12 October, a number of workshops, talks and networking events will be taking place as part of St Andrews’ first ever Enterprise Week. The venture is a result of a working alliance between the University of St Andrews Careers Centre and the Scottish Institute for Enterprise set up by Scott Schorr, the former postgraduate president at the University.
When Mr Schorr first conceived the idea, he met with people that represented the two different entities; namely, Lydia Bowden, the student employability officer, and enterprise intern, Sanjana Sha. After a successful planning process, the latter has now assumed the role of director of the operation and sat down with The Saint to discuss what St Andrews’ inaugural Enterprise Week has in store.
The opening exchanges with Ms Sha were primarily concerned with the logistics of the week’s events. It soon became apparent that all of the functions throughout the week will be free of charge and held in central locations around the town. Most will also have complimentary refreshments and networking time available. “We are looking to welcome anyone from any walk of life to the functions and hope people take full advantage of the opportunities on offer,” she elucidated.
When asked what not to miss, Ms Sha said “definitely the keynote presentation. It is the biggest event of the week. We have tried to attract a broad range of speakers to make it as interesting and inclusive as possible.” She suggested that enterprise is widely misunderstood; “people often consider technology and innovation when they hear the word enterprise. Essentially, there are lots of options available to those interested in running their own business.”
However, the benefits of Enterprise Week are not exclusive to students. “Small businesses are also gaining from free exposure to potential customers and fellow entrepreneurs,” Ms. Sha explains. It is clear that “there are lots of options open to those interested in running their own business.”
Enterprise Week was designed with the community in mind. “Throughout the planning process, we have had a positive response from the University, the Careers Centre, the sabbatical officers and CAPOD.” She cited this reassuring feedback from stakeholders as good motivation to bring the project to life.
In her discourse, Ms Sha revealed the speakers that will feature in the headline keynote event, due to take place on the Monday. The most eminent guest to take to the stage will be Ashley Whitlatch, leader of the global education team at Prezi. Travelling from San Francisco, she works for one of the most popular and innovative presentation software companies. She is responsible for cultivating partnerships with EdTech companies, university professors and students across the world.
Two of the other four speakers are alumni of the University of St Andrews and developed their businesses during their studies. David Townsend founded Town Rock Energy with the mission to tackle global warming by establishing geothermal energy as a primary source of renewable energy in Scotland. Since its relatively recent incorporation, the business has grown from strength to strength in the pursuit of its goal. In his speech, Mr Townsend will recount the story of his start-up, which involved earning funding and business advice through the Scottish Institute of Enterprise.
The second of the two local graduates to be attending the event is Jorge Milburn. Alongside working for JLL, an investment management company specialising in real estate, he is a non- executive director of St Andrews Let Ltd. Mr Milburn is expected to bring some local managers to the meeting and discuss how he set up the student accommodation letting agency.
Other speakers include Bob Phaff of the St Andrews Brewing Company, one of the town’s newest and most popular pubs, and Peter McLean of The Foodie Company, a catering business located in Edinburgh. The latter’s presentation should be particularly interesting as he intends to explain how his company has grown to become multi-layered in its provision of services.
Although the keynote event has the highest concentration of guest speakers, Ms Sha was keen to point out that “there will be plenty of other exciting functions to watch out for throughout the week.” On the Tuesday, Venture Capital Group and Prezi will join forces to run a pitching workshop, while the Economics Society will be hosting an event with Salt Water Capital Management Ltd. on Wednesday.
Ms Sha describes Thursday as one of the busiest days of the week with three separate events taking place. The Fine Food Fayre will be running a competition, the Careers Centre and Scottish Institute of Enterprise will be jointly holding a talk, and Enactus, a student-run social enterprise, will also be hosting an interactive session. Additionally, a sports innovation challenge will be located outside of the Student Union and the St Andrews Economic Forum will be promoting upcoming events during the day.
Ms Sha explained that the week would culminate with an interactive case study workshop run by Playfair Project, a local consultancy group, on the Friday, and an inter-sport and inter-society competition on the Saturday. She felt it would be a nice touch to end the week with a collective event that showcases the talent in St Andrews.
“The basis for the contest is that both sports teams and student societies are pitted against each other to formulate the most innovative ways to improve their respective clubs. One hundred pounds will go to the best idea for improving a sports team and the best for improving a student society.”
Enterprise Week will provide a cornucopia of options for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and it seems a perfect opportunity to get involved. There is no better way to learn how to successfully set up and run a business than from the experts in the field and those who were in the same position only a few years ago.
Events Schedule: http://www.standrewsenterpriseweek.co.uk/
6th – 12th October