Business Panel – Q&A / Networking Event at The University of East London

On the 6th of October 2015, The University of East London (UEL) held a Business Panel with 6 professionals from varying areas of Business. A careers workshop for students to learn from experiences of the panelists and understand what businesses look for while hiring

These were the panelists:

  1. Trevor Williams: Chief Economist in financial markets for Lloyd’s Bank (25+ years experience)
  2. Stephen Raisey: Head of Waitrose in the Canary Wharf branch (25+ years experience)
  3. Alex Outlaw: Co-founder of the Idle Man online retail company (10+ years experience in Marketing)
  4. Anna Hyde: Investment manager for Bethnal Green Ventures (6+ years experience, In Law Also)
  5. Amber Mehrotra: Relationship Manager at Lloyd’s Bank (10+ years experience)
  6. Mark Aarons: Traveled all around the world with Her Majesty’s Home Office (15+ years experience)
  7. Raj Narayan: Taking a year off from Lloyds bank to work in the local community: to promote social mobility through education and employment.

Courtesy of Raj Narayan (Business Connector for Business in the Community) who organised the event with UEL, students across UEL were able to meet these highly experienced individuals. There were many students from all different schools including: Business and law, Health, Sport and Bio-science and Arts and Digital Industries. It was a very successful event and having such a diverse panel was hugely beneficial for the audience. A plethora of information was presented by the panel and much experience was shared throughout.

The Event

Entering one of UEL’s conference rooms, the 6 panelists are sitting together, surrounded by eager students and staff in a semi-circle set of seats. Raj, charismatically opens the event, introduces himself with great humor and allows the panelist to do the same. You can hear the faint sounds of scribbles as students race to write down their names! We are ready…

After introductions and pleasantries are over, Raj gets the ball rolling with some of our questions that the audience emailed to him previously. The usual questions that you would expect from a group of keen students: How do you get into your industry? What do you look for on a CV? How do you find your positions? In no order, the panelists each answer Raj’s questions, to the audience. Very relaxed but very professionalEach panelist offers a different perspective into their own lives and their industry. Sharing their experiences together. They also give some brilliant advice for our futures.

After Raj asks his questions, the audience take over and a spontaneous mass of hands fly into the air! One by one students and staff ask questions to individual members and openly to all panelists. (This is where the questions began to get extra interesting and insightful!) What can we do as students to impress you in future? What would you recommend if I want to get into X industry? What can UEL students do to rise above higher universities? and many more. The panelists provide Brilliant answers and everyone is happy.

Some questions are even a little controversial but, still very welcome. One member of the audience asks about, how the banks acted during the recession (he seems a little angry, it must be said). Handled brilliantly, Trevor gives a great answer from the perspective of the bank and its people, dispelling the notion it was all the banks faults. The man, happy with the answers subsides and a conversation begins among the crowd. Its good to see, healthy debate.

A very welcome discussion takes place and the questions are flowing in a very relaxed atmosphere. The panel are offering wonderful insights, the audience are taking notes and the laughs are beginning as everyone gets more relaxed.

Networking

After the questions are all answered, the Q&A event finishes with a networking session. Tea, coffee and all kinds of juice are offered (I take the coffee, 1 sugar please!) Everyone; panelist, students and staff get up and shake hands with each other. A dialog takes place between everyone. Mumbles in the background, sounds of tea being pored whilst a small conversation takes place and laughter fills the room. It is a great atmosphere!

People gravitate towards the professional in their area but also talk to everyone around the room. There are also some important people in the audiences you see, some journalists, photographers and some academics from UEL. They are treated like panelist and everyone gets along. This is a great chance for the audience to get personal with the panelists and ask more tailored questions. So that is exactly what we do!

After the networking finishes, people leave with countless business cards, some new names to add to their LinkedIn profiles and most importantly, a new found confidence and insight into their futures.

Some Take Away Points and Tips from the Panel

  1. LinkedIn and Social Media

The panel could not stress enough the importance of a social media presence in business, particularly LinkedIn. Advice that they gave was to: Invest a large amount of time perfecting a good LinkedIn account. Remain professional throughout and use it to follow professionals and network with like minded people.You never know where it may lead.

Also, some of the panelist mentioned that Facebook and Twitter are now more commonly looked at by interviewers. So be careful what you post when applying for an application. Some advice given was to have different accounts for professional and personal. What do you think about this? 

2. Networking

Whether it is using your LinkedIn account or going to business events, the panelists most common theme of advice was networking. It allows you to meet people in the same area and possibly gain employment or just a new contact. The possibilities are endless! They recommended finding events online (www.eventbrite.com) and through establishments such as universities, businesses and schools. Get out there and meet people! Remember, It is not what you know… it is who you know!

3. Take opportunities!

The variety of industries that were on the panel were huge. However all of them mentioned taking opportunities when they arise; no matter what industry. “Showing confidence and taking on new things will get you far”. “Do not be afraid of trying out new things and keep an open mind when trying experiences”. Each experience you take, will gain you valuable knowledge and give you something to boost up your CV. This may be volunteer, internship or work. It is all up to you!

Thank-you for reading Ladies and Gentleman!

If you enjoyed, please leave a like and a comment! Next weeks blog will be about a similar event for the Public Sector. So if you are interested in charity or social enterprise work, keep an eye out!

Notes:

If you would like any more information about what was spoken about today,  please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Some honorable mentions for organising the event:

Nadine Lewis: “A big thank you to Raj for organising two fantastic events. The students and graduates were thoroughly engaged and benefited immensely from the experience. Careers and Student Employability look forward to working with Raj further in the near future”

Andrea Popeau ThomasRehana Ladha & Ruth Cherrington

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