Enterprise Adviser Network


The Enterprise Adviser Network is designed to encourage links between schools and business. The aim is to encourage businesses to work together with schools to support young people in making choices about their future career.

The project will provide better information to schools about skills needs, so that existing career-focused activities can be enhanced and developed.

Initially, we were able to fund 36 schools on the project. However, in November 2016 we secured additional funding which will allow the project to roll out to a further 27 schools. This will mean that 60% of schools in the area will have an Enterprise Adviser. Six special schools have also been invited to take part.

Funding for the project was secured by HotSW LEP, in conjunction with the four upper tier local authorities. CSW Group is contracted to provide the service, which is being funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company, Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Development Agency.

Latest updates

  • In November 2016, extra funding was secured to enable more schools to benefit from the project. Find out more here.
  • Exmouth Students to attend international business conference – A group of students from Exmouth Community College will be making their first steps into the world of business when they join a Devon company at an international trade show. Find out more here
  • Business mentors start work with schools – Businesses have started working in schools throughout HotSW. Find out more here
  • Video (January 2016)
    The LEP People Group has produced a video to showcase the work in enterprise education which has been taking place across the HotSW area. There is a lot of activity across the HotSW region and we have some great examples. The group would like to share these with others and encourage more partners to become involved.We hope this will encourage partners to work together to help businesses meet their skills needs and support young people with future careers.
Watch the Enterprise Education video

Case studies

Kate Doodson, joint CEO at ethical IT business Cosmic, explains why she has signed up as one of the first business mentors on this new programme:

“I chose my first career whilst I was still at school. I really enjoyed maths and physics, so I wanted to be an engineer. I decided on Civil Engineering as I wanted to work outdoors.

“I attended Notre Dame School in Plymouth and at the time the careers advice was patchy. I remember we did a questionnaire once about which career suited you the most. It came out as computer science or teaching. This is very close to what I’m doing now!

“My second career, in IT, started when I moved to Devon and decided to explore IT. I’ve now been in the industry for over 15 years.

“My IT career began with me working on a large website, which took over 12 months to develop. This taught me a lot about the web industry and site design and development. The industry changes quickly, so the business is all about keeping up with news, trends and developments.

“As I run the operations side of the business, my key responsibilities are managing the team, keeping an eye on our finances, planning for our future and creating and developing relationships. So not so much engineering or technology application in my day job now!

“I also spend time lecturing on digital futures and tech, which means I keep up to date with technology. This is useful for me to bring back into the business too

“I wanted to take part in this project because I love the idea of being able to make a difference to a local school.

“Just allowing the school space to think about careers advice and guidance will help them. Also, having another person’s perspective – particularly someone who is external to the school and has a business perspective – will help shape and formulate an effective plan.

“I also believe that I can help by bringing in digital solutions to support decisions.”

“We are at the very beginning of the process now, so it is difficult to see what the challenges may be, but I expect engaging other businesses may be tricky.

“I’m really looking forward to the project as I love working in schools: Cosmic works in schools offering tech support, so we are often in and out of schools, but we don’t get the chance to work on enterprise.”

To find out more about Cosmic, visit: www.cosmic.org.uk

LittlePod, based at Farringdon near Exeter, was set up in 2010 and is now an established company, providing high-quality vanilla, coffee and chocolate extract products across the UK and beyond.

Janet Sawyer (BEM), Managing Director at LittlePod, explains why she has signed up as one of the first business mentors on this new programme:

“My own working history has been very varied. I started my working life in banking and then moved to work for the British Trawlers Federation as a trainee statistician. I’ve also worked as a primary school teacher, a child psychotherapist and helped found a not for profit community arts society where I still have a role as director.

“I started LittlePod in 2010 when my son left home to study –  I have always been concerned for young people and at that time one million graduates were unemployed, including some of my son’s local friends who were returning from university.  I saw starting a small company as my way of ‘doing my bit’ for them.  

“We are now an established micro multi-national company, selling to distributors across the globe in Germany, Portugal, Hong Kong, Australia, Sweden, Estonia, Qatar, USA. We were the first to market with our hero product: a vanilla paste in a tube which is now used by chefs and home cooks. I am also the author of a cookbook – Vanilla – Cooking with one of the World’s finest ingredients.

“I enjoy my working life which has enabled me to offer internships and apprenticeships to around 15 young people to date. In 2012 I was awarded the British Empire Medal when it was reintroduced for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, for my contribution to employment and culture in East Devon.

“I wanted to volunteer as an Enterprise Adviser as I found the idea of acting as a link between the education environment and business environment compelling and wanted to make a contribution.”

“I began working with Exmouth Community College in the summer of 2016. I met with members of the Senior Management Team and we quickly established our roles within the project and agreed what could be achieved in the timeframe.

“After considering the school’s Needs Analysis, I developed a proposal to implement a quick project that would have a real impact for the students.

“LittlePod has been sponsored by Food Matters to exhibit at the prestigious Food Matters Live event, which is the UK’s only conference bringing together all aspects of the food industry internationally to enable collaboration and debate. The students have been given special permission to attend the event, as normally entrance is only available to over 18s.

“I therefore launched a competition among the business students, asking them to design an interactive portal’ to be used at our exhibition stand to inform our visitors about the world of edible commodities: vanilla, coffee and chocolate.

“I spent time with the students, presenting our company and our background and put forward the proposal for the competition.  The project was an extra-curricular offering and therefore time was of the essence to get the winning design selected.

“I spent another two hours in the classroom with both classes circulating among all the groups looking at their work and answering questions.  I was impressed with their responses to the project and saw that an interest in commodities had been ignited.

“I then organised a panel of judges from the world of IT, design and technology to choose a winning team: it was a great afternoon of judging.  I was thrilled at the level of interest and value the judging team gave to the students work.   Whilst they found merit in several groups works there was an overall and definite winning group.  The judges awarded marks and gave feedback on all the work.

“Given the restrictions on time we decided to turn the design into a workable format to be presented at our show on an IPad.

“The winning group of students flew to London for the day. At the exhibition, the students were presented with a LittlePod Enterprise Award for their work, which was presented by Aisha Stenning, a former intern of the company who is now an Information & Sustainable Business Analyst with Unilever.

“LittlePod organised with HSBC an invitation to visit the iconic HSBC HQ in Canary Wharf, with a guided tour and brunch in the boardroom.

“The whole event was a wonderful opportunity for the students, who had the chance to experience a large corporate event and see how business works internationally.

“After the exhibition, myself and the school reflected on the outcomes and reviewed this in terms of the Needs Analysis. Our conclusion was that the hours spent on the project had a wider impact than we anticipated.

“The networking opportunities of the Enterprise Adviser Network are also being realised, as several people from the judging panel offered ongoing services to the school.”

To find out more about LittlePod, visit www.littlepod.co.uk

Key documents

How to get involved

We are now looking for new Enterprise Advisers across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay.

For more information about becoming an enterprise adviser, please contact charlotte.molyneux@ebp-sw.org or telephone 01392 215501