From education to employment

Scholarship alumni give back to support young engineers

SMF Step Challenge

Business leaders who have helped to grow the UK economy, start hundreds of companies and create thousands of jobs are giving back to the scheme which supported them to get to where they are today.

Last year, the Sainsbury Management Fellows (SMF) alumni donated more than £100,000 back to the charity that awarded them scholarships to study at the world’s leading business schools – and this year they’re aiming to go even further.

The £119,000 raised in last year’s SMF Step Challenge accounted for more than half of the amount which was awarded to the latest cohort of young engineers to study for their MBAs at INSEAD, Imperial College Business School and HEC Paris. Some Sainsbury Management Fellows donated one-off sums, with many opting for regular monthly contributions.

This year’s Step Challenge launches in March, with the SMF alumni expected to surpass last year’s figure to allow even more young engineers to benefit from an SMF scholarship which would enable them to learn business skills by studying for an MBA.

Until last year, Lord Sainsbury of Turville’s Gatsby Charitable Foundation has funded the SMF scholarships, with up to ten awarded each year, allowing young engineers to pick up must-have business skills at 14 top business schools to progress their careers in the UK industry. Since 1987, this has produced more than 400 MBA graduates who make up the SMF alumni, who go on to make substantial contributions to business and wider society.

Sainsbury Management Fellows are responsible for the creation of more than 300 startups and more than 20,000 jobs as well as mentoring the next generation of engineering professionals across the country.

The fundraising initiative is part of a drive for the SMF alumni to fund the scholarship scheme directly.

The highlight of the SMF Step Challenge will be Giving Week, which takes place between 18 and 24 March, when all SMFs will be encouraged to participate in challenges from their peers to donate whatever they are able, large or small. Giving Week hopes to reinforce the message of the combined power of small gifts – every gift counts.

David Falzani MBE, President of Sainsbury Management Fellows, said:

“The SMF Step Challenge represents a move towards independence. It’s our collective opportunity – almost our responsibility – to repay the faith that Lord Sainsbury placed in us over the years.

“We, as scholarship recipients, have all benefitted from the scheme so it’s only right that we pay the kindness forward so we can sustain Lord Sainsbury’s vision of having more business leaders with engineering skills in UK boardrooms.”

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