Why is Chester International School good for Business?

Why is Chester International School good for Business?

(Posted on 06/10/16)

My wife and I discovered Chester International School about a month ago from a mailshot that arrived at our home. Without hesitation, we somehow knew this was something we wanted to enquire about on behalf of our daughter. We did that, and following a meeting with Kate Ryan, we made our application for Emily to start next September.

I was asked by Kate to speak at the recent Open House event from a business perspective – she said she was driven by my obvious display of enthusiasm for the school when we met. When asked to speak I instantly jumped at it and accepted... As soon as my email reply left my outbox, however, I froze and quickly started to panic… what do I have to say about why the International Studio is good for business? What is it that instantly triggered me to consider this style of education for my own daughter? I then started to reflect…

I’ve been in business for just over 20 years now. I graduated from university with a degree in Civil Engineering and spent my first year in an unpaid internship in a small contracting firm based in Bromborough – 6 years later I became MD after helping it increase sales from £1m to £6m in the space of 4 years. In 2004, together with a best friend from University, I then decided to start up my own company. Today that company successfully turns over £5m per annum employing more than 50 people. I also have another company that I started in 2014 that is steadily moving towards the £1m turnover mark. It’s also worth mentioning that between 2002 and 2006, I also completed an MBA whilst working full-time on the new business and starting my family. As an aside I found studying whilst working one of the most self-rewarding achievements of my life – and the things I learnt on my MBA continue to pay dividends in my everyday business life.

Although I have worn many hats and experienced many things in the past 20 years (both up and down), I’m afraid to say I fear the next 20 years even more – as I’m not sure I’m ready for it – or even worse (from my own recruiting experiences) that our school and university leavers are ready for it either.

So, I’ve done some digging…

Globalisation is a word that is used in every major company’s business strategy around the world. It’s perhaps used so much that I think we’ve forgotten to take notice of what it means.

So, what does it mean?... Well, I might not be able to tell you what it means right now but I can tell you what it is doing. According to a CNN report in June this year, Asia (for the first time ever) is now home to more millionaires than North America (in second place) and Europe (third). Asia has 5.1m millionaires controlling $17.4T of the worlds wealth compared with North America’s 4.8m millionaires controlling $16.6T. The report goes on to state that:

Wealth in Asia is driven mainly by the financial services, high tech and health care industries. And it's coming more from those owning start-ups than from those running long-standing businesses.

Okay so what does this mean? … I think globalisation is a business competition that we are perhaps trailing behind in. Without using any scientific evidence or research, there’s a sense in me that globalisation is the only game in town right now. Furthermore, as Asia has proven, it is not just for the ‘major’ long-standing companies, it’s for the small start-ups too.

The question for us all right now is… what is it that we need to do to enable us to compete better?

If I’ve learned one thing from business in the past 20 years… It’s not bricks and mortar that build businesses… It’s people – and in this fast moving, ever changing global business environment that we find ourselves in, or should I say are ‘currently behind’ in… I suspect it’s people with a complete set of different skills to those I currently see coming from more traditional educational environments.

But let’s not be too down on ourselves, our education system and knowledge base is revered around the world. And the UK is and always has been a strong global player. London is currently ranked as the leading Global City, and with hundreds of years of global trade links behind us we have a lot of collateral in place to be successful. My feeling is we just need to build on this and start developing people with the right skills for the ever-increasing global challenge ahead of us.

The future is probably less predictable than ever before – we already suspect that the skills required in the future need to be more durable, broad and creative, like problem-solving and the ability to work in fluid, diverse teams. If only we could just get this into our educational approaches…

Enter Chester International School!

Now I realise why I subconsciously knew that this opportunity was right for my daughter. My fear for the next 20 years involves her. In this time, she will evolve into a world that none us will even recognise from today. I’m convinced that the Studio will no doubt offer her the opportunity to develop and become successful with those critical skills in being creative, being able to solve problems and collaborate with many different people and cultures around the world.

Just as football clubs recruit players into their academies from the age 7 to gain competitive advantage – shouldn’t we being doing this in business? Shouldn’t business be working with schools and colleges to ensure that the talent is being developed in a way that meets the needs of businesses today and in the future - in a Global Business Environment?

Personally I am really excited about the Studio – this is an incredible opportunity for the younger generations coming through in the Chester area… I only wish I could enrol too!

Tim Whitehill                                                                                                                                                                     

Managing Director, Project Five Consulting Limited