Business Class: Using Business Skills to Help Disadvantaged Communities

by oneyoungworldoceania

This post was written by Sarah Hughes, a One Young World Ambassador from Australia.

When I look back at the past couple of months, I feel a deep sense of pride and satisfaction. It seems like yesterday, when I received the most exciting and life changing news of my life, being informed that I would become the Experian Asia Pacific Social Responsibility Ambassador and would have the honour of representing Experian at the One Young World (OYW) Summit in Johannesburg.

Since its launch in March 2013, our Heart of Experian Social Responsibility programme has been aimed at harnessing the unique assets and the skills of our people to help communities achieve their social and economic potential. We focus our activities on three key social responsibility aims: enabling the most vulnerable in society to access financial services, providing the disadvantaged with the financial knowledge to prosper, and supporting micro and small businesses to grow and thrive.

The Business Class program by Schools Connect Australia endeavours to develop long-term, strong and sustainable relationships between schools and businesses to assist socially, geographically and / or economically disadvantaged schools, teachers, students and communities.

Helping young people develop and enhance their lives has been a rewarding and gratifying experience for me. I consider myself privileged to have had the ability to create significant and sustainable changes in my community, using Experian’s Social Responsibility initiative as a platform, in association with Schools Connect Australia. The Business Class program by Schools Connect Australia endeavours to develop long-term, strong and sustainable relationships between schools and businesses to assist socially, geographically and / or economically disadvantaged schools, teachers, students and communities.

My involvement with the Business Class initiative so far

When I stopped to reflect on the progress of the Business Class initiative with McClelland College, I was unsure where to begin! In the past few months, Experian has developed a great relationship with McClelland College. The program is continually growing and expanding, with new and innovative ideas.  I anticipate that the program inevitably extending to areas I never imagined possible six months ago!

The following activities are just a few of some of the achievements that have occurred over the past months:

Enhancing the Curriculum with Experian Expertise

During May, my colleagues Jessica Dioth, Quentin Jones, Gaurav Vageriya and I visited McClelland College to conduct Mock Job Interviews for Year 10 students. The aim of the interviews was to give students the opportunity to experience a real-life job interview and demonstrate their employability skills and knowledge they had developed during their recent Year 10 Work Experience placement.

The day was fantastic and memorable, and we heard a diverse range of career aspirations from the students; engineers, criminal lawyers, secondary school teachers, make-up artists and builders! Hearing the students’ career aspirations, despite some of the trying circumstances impacting their lives was inspirational…

“Thank you to our Business Class Partners Experian for adding so much value to the Mock Interviews this week. The feedback from students and staff was extremely positive particularly in relation to the perspective our Experian representatives brought to the panel”. – Amadeo Ferra, Principal McClelland College.

Sharing Experiences and Supporting Academic Efforts

Continuing with our academic involvement, Julie Kirk and I from our HR team were privileged to attend McClelland College’s Senior School assembly to provide a presentation about Experian and my One Young World adventure. The students were fascinated to hear about Experian’s business operations and inspired by the One Young World experience. It was an honour to share my learnings and unforgettable experience with the students. Hopefully, on hearing about One Young World, students are now thinking about the importance of youth leadership and social change. Julie and I were also asked to present Academic Achievement awards to the Senior School students. As I you will have no doubt picked up, I passionately believe that education is the key to addressing the multitude of issues impeding society’s development. It was great to see McClelland College promoting Academic Efforts and Performance, which encourages their students to appreciate and value their education.

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One HR Day

Our HR team conducted “Careers Advice” sessions with the Year 9 students during our ‘One HR’ Volunteering Day we run every year, encouraging students to follow their passions, maximise their strengths and find new opportunities; we hope our efforts will help them with their education, development and preparation for their lives after leaving secondary school.

The day was a great opportunity for our HR team to meet students of all ages from a range of different backgrounds. It allowed the team to gain an insight to the students’ lives, the challenges they face and the aspirations they have for the future. Quite often, the chaos in our daily lives both at work and at home, distracts us from being aware of the challenges individuals and groups within our communities are confronted with. It made me realise that the business skills and knowledge it’s often easy to take for granted are invaluable skills to others in our communities and fundamental skills we can all pass on.

Giving Back to the Community through Collaboration

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McClelland College sponsored a famous dance group “Break the Barriers” which consists of dancers who have a range of disabilities. The international Dance Group strive to improve the quality of lives for other individuals facing similar challenges. In August, Experian employees helped McClelland run the event, which brought together eight local primary schools and two schools for students with disabilities.

It was a remarkable and memorable opportunity for our employees to support not only McClelland College but to collaborate with the school to give back to the wider community.

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Using Social Media to Drive Social Change

Prior to attending the One Young World summit, I must admit, I was pretty clueless about Social Media! I didn’t even have a Facebook account and did not know how to use Twitter properly! After attending One Young World, I learned about the positive impact Social Media can have on driving social change. I am now an avid Twitter user! I frequently find myself discovering new social change groups and entrepreneurs to “follow”. My Twitter addiction fortunately enabled me to scroll past Richard Branson’s tweet about his initiative “The Fiver Challenge“.  The Fiver Challenge is a simple yet brilliant idea to engage society’s youth and corporations in a mutually beneficial and educational project. The challenge requires either Primary or Secondary school students to develop and set up mini-businesses with approximately $20 to create products or services they can then sell/deliver to generate a profit and engage with their local community.  It is a project that develops their entrepreneurial, communication, literacy, numeracy and employability skills; these are critical skills needed by young individuals today both within their schooling years and beyond.

I am pleased to announce that we will be conducting an adapted version of the “Fiver Challenge” with McClelland College’s 10+ Club; an educational group for high achieving and academically focused Year 9 and 10 students.

Concluding thoughts

As our partnership with McClelland College progresses, I continue to see how crucial and valuable education is to our communities’ development and future. It is critical that the value of education is promoted and embraced within our communities, among both students and their parents.

During the Johannesburg Summit, David Jones Co-Founder of One Young World urged us all to return home from the Summit and do “just one thing” to make a difference.  Mine was getting involved with McClelland College and although, at time, it may seem that “just one thing” will only make a small impact, if we all commit to one contribution or change, we can collectively make a significant difference in the world. Therefore, I’d encourage us all to consider what your “one thing” to make a difference will be…..

If you’d like to connect with me and exchange ideas, please feel free to get in touch!

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