Enterprising students were on fire when they stepped into the Dragons’ Den to take part in business challenges held at our Ardleigh Green campus as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

Two separate competitions were held – the Metro Bank Schools Challenge for Year 9 and 10 pupils from local schools, and the NCC Business Community Challenge for college students.

Nine teams from schools including Hornchurch High, Marshalls Park and Eastbury pitted their wits against each other in a challenge to create initiatives on why young people should open an account with the Metro Bank.

The youngsters had to come up with a marketing company name and strapline, ideas for adverts, campaign slogans, create a digital presentation and then pitch their initiatives in the Dragons’ Den to three visiting business experts – Josephine O’Connor, Head of Business & Community Investment at Vinci Construction Company; Russell Ridley, Local Director of Metro Bank; and Amit Rehal, Area Business Manager at Metro Bank.

The Dragons chose the Eastbury School Year 10 team – calling themselves the Metro Marketing Agency - as the winners, saying their presentation was professional, delivered clearly and included some great initiatives such as social media campaigns and setting up a ‘Teen Zone’ in schools where pupils would be taught about managing money.

In presenting the trophy and Amazon vouchers to the winners, the Metro Bank’s Russell Ridley said: “This team showed a real spirit of entrepreneurship and worked well together. Their presentation was excellent and they even came up with some ideas which we will be taking forward to the bank.”

In presenting the trophy and Amazon vouchers to the winners, the Metro Bank’s Russell Ridley said: “Thank you to everyone at Havering Colleges and the local schools who helped make this such a memorable event. The level of engagement from all the students was outstanding and the quality of the ideas and presentations first class. We left feeling really inspired by the whole experience.

“The Eastbury School Year 10 students were innovative and creative in their approach and worked well together as a team. This really came across in their final presentation and some of their ideas certainly gave us food for thought.”

In the NCC Business Community Challenge for college students, teams had to design a fundraising campaign for a charity and then present it in a Dragons’ Den type scenario, which involved thinking on their feet in a stressful environment and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.

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A team of students studying BTEC Business at Ardleigh Green were the winners and received some high praise from the Dragons on the day, who were Genevieve Seal from Wildberry Associates, Mu Ali from Wavemaker UK and Lucy May from Willmott Dixon.

Genevieve said: “I was very impressed by the students who were all so enthusiastic. There were some who really stood out. Public speaking is by no means easy, and the students really did themselves and the college proud. It was a privilege to have been involved in the day.”

Mu added: “It was an exciting and humbling day to see how students think, feel and approach challenges of this nature. It’s a great testament to them and the college to show what they will bring to the working world. I'm so grateful to be part of this and to see the younger generations excel - we have to continue to encourage them and help them see that the world is full of opportunities and they will succeed! I'm hugely optimistic. Congratulations for organising such an inspiring day.”

Havering Colleges’ Marketing Officer, Jamie Webb, who organised the competitions, said:

“Thank you to all our Dragons in both challenges. The mentoring, critique and support given by the business representatives who gave up their time to attend the day was priceless for students. They gained so much from the experience.”

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