They say it takes only one person to make a difference. In the case of Oasis Academy Shirley Park, that person is 17-year-old Euphrose Tambwe. The (in her own words) “highly motivated” and “driven” A-level student is spearheading Project Horizon, an initiative aimed at encouraging younger, year 9 students at her Croydon school to develop their interpersonal skills and build their networks well before they enter the workplace.
“Our aim is to make it clear to the students that today's employers are looking beyond a form filled with credentials and grades, and are increasingly becoming interested in the person behind them,” explains Euphrose.
Introducing Project Horizon
The idea came to Euphrose during the final day of InspiresMe Week back in February 2016, when the participating students were tasked with coming up with an idea for a social enterprise and then presenting it to a panel of judges.
“The organisers asked us to focus on a specific group of people we wanted to help,” adds Euphrose.
“I immediately knew young students from my school would be the ideal group to target; I’d noticed a lack of ambition amongst them.”
Euphrose and her fellow team members “brainstormed the specific causes for the problem, as well as ideas about how we could fix it.”
Although Euphrose’s team didn’t win the challenge (read more about the competition here) the positive feedback from the panel spurred her to take the idea to her Head of Sixth Form, Chris Webbe – who was more than happy to help. Shirley Park already had close links with the global investment bank Goldman Sachs through its involvement in Business Class, a nationwide programme set up by the charity Business in the Community which creates long-term school-business partnerships.
Pitching to Goldman Sachs
Chris arranged a meeting for Euphrose to pitch her concept to Goldman Sachs. “I knew that I only had a raw idea so it was important for me to recruit some help from my peers in the sixth form to develop my idea into an actual project,” Euphrose admitted.
“It was nearing the exam period and we had to organise meetings around everybody’s schedules. But we made sure by the end of the academic year we had a solid pitch and concept in place.”
Euphrose and her team are currently working on firming up the days and activities they plan to offer year 9 students, clarifying the role they’d like Goldman Sachs to play during the project and collecting student data – all while juggling their A-level coursework commitments.
Their efforts have hugely impressed their Head of Sixth Form, Chris Webbe.
“It’s an incredible amount of work. What they’re trying to do is get students at a younger age to consider why they’re in school, what they’re aiming for and what they want to achieve in life,” said Chris.
“Project Horizon is about opening their eyes to that and giving them a start in building the required skills and confidence to make that a reality. It’s about getting them to understand that making connections is important, as is building skills like communication and resilience in everything they do.”
Inspiring her peers
Euphrose has inspired not just the year 9s at Shirley Park, but her fellow sixth formers. While she was the only student from her school to take part in InspiresMe Week 2016, six students have signed up for the week’s work experience in February this year. Euphrose’s experience leading the project is helping her “to develop as an individual”.
“My time-management skills are being tested to capacity; my ability to manage a group of people and be impartial about differing ideas is developing,” Euphrose explains.
This is exactly what the InspiresMe programme is all about. Clare Dundas, Head of Corporate Communications at Workspace Group, says: “InspiresMe Week was set up by Workspace and the Greater London Authority (GLA) to provide work experience to London students and give small businesses access to young minds and creativity; but we are delighted that its reach and remit are expanding every year.
“We hope to see more students like Euphrose taking what they’ve learnt from their placement and becoming InspiresMe ambassadors in their schools, encouraging younger students to think carefully about their future careers and ambitions.”
For Daisy Greenaway, Senior Policy Officer in the GLA's Education and Youth team, Project Horizon is indicative of InspiresMe’s wide-reaching, “trickle-down” effect.
“I want to congratulate Euphrose and the team at her school for demonstrating the impact that can be made by giving a young person just a week’s experience in a business,” said Daisy.
“It's fantastic that Euphrose has been given the inspiration and confidence to help other young people to explore their ambitions, and I’ve no doubt the InspiresMe Week experience and the many skills she will have learnt will stay with her for the rest of her professional career.''
Euphrose clearly has her hands full for the next few months. But what of the more distant future? While Euphrose valued “enormously” her February internship at marketing agency Haime & Butler, based at The Light Bulb, for “teaching [her] the everyday logistics of running a company and some of the factors needed to make it successful”, she has her sights set on a career in law.
Euphrose heads off to university in September next year, but the measures she is putting in place to help fellow Shirley Park students will be a fantastic legacy. “My overall vision for the project continues to grow, and through making small changes and partnering with Goldman Sachs, I know it will produce a great result,” she smiles.
We wish Euphrose – and Project Horizon – every future success.
Find out more about InspiresMe Week 2017 and how your business can inspire entrepreneurship and develop the professional skills of London’s next generation here.
For more about Business in the Community or Business Class please visit http://www.bitc.org.uk.