From education to employment

Training tomorrows leaders, today

Students from South Eastern Regional Colleges (SERC) Entry to Management graduate programme recently attended a two-day Peer Conference at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast as part of the Colleges 24-week programme.

The Conference themes focused on leadership, innovation, creative and strategic thinking, communication, commercial acumen and professional conduct and graduates were challenged to think innovatively and constructively throughout the intense two days.

The conference was informal and friendly with a flat hierarchy to provide a rich interpersonal process for open debate, discussion, answers to pressing questions and the development of ideas. This allowed attendees to get to know each other through informal discussion and interactive team challenges.

Guest speakers at the conference included Grainne McCurry from Invest NI, Dr. Esmond Birnie, an Economic Researcher from Ulster University and Darragh McCarthy Chief Executive Officer at Fintru. They discussed a range of topics including the importance of good leaders for businesses and the overall NI economy.

The attendees also completed an ‘Apprentice’ style challenge where they had to work in teams to develop a new product or service which they then had to present to a panel of industry experts and their peers.

The challenge was designed to get the creativity flowing, gathering a rich stew of ideas and themes and gave the attendees an opportunity early in the conference to discover their leadership qualities.

The afternoon workshop was followed by a dinner in La Scala Bistro where the students could relax and get to know their colleagues.

A prize was also awarded for the Best Leader, voted for by peers, which was awarded to James McCullough from FinTru. James won an overnight stay for two at the Stormont Hotel, which was kindly sponsored by Hastings.

SERC tutor Jenny McConnell, who leads the course, recognised the growth of those involved on the programme. Jenny said: ” We had two very successful days packed with a good mix of keynote speakers, graduate challenges and team tasks.

“I have been inspired by the ambition of these young leaders. They have displayed great enthusiasm to fulfil their potential and I am confident that they will become incredibly talented managers who can make a lasting contribution to our economy.

“With the lack of leaderships skills well documented, the Entry to Management Graduate programme is perfectly suited to meet the demands of the sector and to help grow our own local talent.”

Jenny thanked the employers for their support throughout the programme and encouraged other businesses to avail of the programme, she said “We are urging businesses to contact us and discover the many benefits that the programme has to offer. This programme is a must for organisations who want to add value and attract talent to their organisation at low cost.”

The Entry to Management graduate programme is accredited through the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) at Level 5 Certificate. For more information about the Entry to Management graduate programme please contact Jenny McConnell via email or call 0345 600 7555.

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