Talented Graduates Named Award Winners at The Unlocking Cornish Potential Celebration Event
Some of Cornwall's most talented graduates working in local businesses have been recognised at a prestigious awards ceremony in St Austell.
More than 150 people from the Cornish business community including the Chief Executive of Cornwall Council (Kevin Lavery) and Director of the Convergence Partnership Office (Carleen Kelemen) have gathered this morning at The Keay Theatre to celebrate the success of the Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP) graduates.
The UCP Celebration Event recognises the huge impact made by graduates working with Cornish companies, brought together by the ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence funded project, Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP). The event marks the achievements of the growing number of graduate level positions being created in small to medium sized Cornish companies, and the outcomes that can be achieved when the mix is right. UCP is managed by Cornwall College and supports companies to engage with graduates, by providing mentoring and training, as well as a potential wage subsidy for the first 12 months.
Ryan Sedgwick, winner of the Best Marketing Strategy Award for his year at Grosvenor Pumps in Camborne reveals the company turnover increased by 37% during his UCP placement. Speaking about his experience he says:
UCP gave me an opportunity to apply theory from my degree and put it into practice with the support from mentors who’ve been there and done that. Winning this award demonstrates the new confidence I gained and the goals I delivered as a result.
Other graduates at the event included Rhys Bonney from Business Cornwall Magazine who was nominated in the Catalyst to Business Growth Award. He says, “getting involved with UCP was a game-changer and allowed me to take the next step into the world of graduate employment”. Adam Longfield from Natural Generation in St Agnes has quadrupled company turnover and was the deserving winner of the Contribution to Business growth Award. He says:
With the help of UCP, Natural Generation were able to take on a young graduate like me and give me the opportunity to work and prove myself. It’s been a steep learning curve but UCP have been so supportive.
The pinnacle of the event was the presentation of the nine UCP awards. Thirty-one graduates were shortlisted in total and delegates were treated to fantastic video footage from Sideways Cornwall to showcase all of their achievements. Notable successes besides Ryan and Adam’s fantastic results include a graduate who saved their company 81,000 working hours. Other nominees have implemented huge improvements to their businesses such as with an Investors in People silver award (which just 2% of UK businesses achieve), new websites, IT systems and development projects which have provided industry innovations. Common to all the nominees was the belief from their company sponsor that they brought in fresh, exciting and new ways of solving business challenges. Alan Livingston is Chair of Trustees at The St Ives School of Painting. Their graduate Alison Sharkey was nominated for “Contribution to Business Improvement” and Alan concludes, “we are a better, stronger organisation because of UCP”.
There can only be one winner for each category though and these went to a selection of graduates whose impact on the business has been truly staggering. They were the recipients of a bespoke, hand-crafted trophy designed and constructed by UCF 3D Design student David Forsyth. With a summary of their project highlights, the winners are:
Best Marketing Strategy:
Ryan Sedgwick, Grosvenor Pumps Ltd, Camborne
Ryan’s project was to implement a marketing strategy, improve processes and ultimately increase enquiries, turnover and profitability for this leading manufacturer of chemical dosing pumps. Using his project management training, Ryan set about identifying niche markets and a USP for the company as well as building a new website in house.
Contribution to Business Growth:
Adam Longfield, Natural Generation Ltd, St Agnes
Knowledge, expertise, enthusiasm. That’s what Adam has brought to Natural Generation, a wind and solar installation specialist. Since the renewable energy graduate from Exeter University joined, year on year turnover at the company has quadrupled, with an increase in net profit of £60,000.
Excellence in Project Management:
Amy Thornton, Reflex Marine, Truro
She gained what only 2% of UK businesses have achieved (all within just 9 months) and that was not just a standard Investors In People Award but silver. Her objective to improve environmental credentials by 10% resulted in reductions closer to 20% - with electricity and gas usage down by 19 and 17% respectively.
Contribution to Business Improvement:
Julian Faulkner, Pendennis Worldclass Superyachts, FalmouthHe’s progressed rapidly and made impressive contributions such as developing a full generic engineering specification for a yacht as well as making business improvements. All of this has reduced the engineering budget by 30-40%, by cutting down 81,000 hrs which equates to a £810,000 saving.
Best Use of ICT:
Stuart Backhouse, Seasalt, Falmouth
A huge part of Stuart’s project was IT-based with heavy investment in web-solutions. Stuart took on the tendering process, contract negotiation, process mapping in order to deliver just before the Christmas rush, a fantastic new website which will accommodate and facilitate the company’s growth aspirations.
Contribution to Environmental Sustainability:
Simon Platten, Tamar Grow Local, Calstock
Bee-keeping co-operatives, community orchards, pop-up farmers markets, river distribution trips, restored walled gardens, composting initiatives, village vegetable schemes… chances are if you live in the Tamar Valley, you’ll have felt or seen the impact of Simon’s project at the community interest company, Tamar Grow Local.
Contribution to the Knowledge Economy through Innovation:
Matthew Lewis, Mining Searches UK, Redruth
Matthew has developed an IT-based mapping solution for searching mining risks across various environments in both the south west and the UK. The geographical Information system (GIS) visually displays ordnance survey data reconciled with old mining maps to help with mining risk assessments.
Catalyst to Business Growth:
Melodie Manners, Boutique Retreats, St Agnes
Melodie came on board during the design stages of The Good Cornwall Guide – an interactive website experience for locals and visitors which aimed to become a key marketing tool for Boutique Retreats. Not only has it supported the self-catering holiday specialists through a period of growth and investment, it’s become a viable business in its own right and Melodie has been made a director.
Individual Achievement Award:
Matt Machin, Spiezia Organics, St Martin
With an in-depth web solutions analysis under his belt, Matt was able to deliver the most professional website specification their developers had ever seen. The result has been a crisp, clean and contemporary site which captures the essence of the Spiezia brand. It’ s only been live for a few weeks but already sales transactions are up and the optimisation is looking good.
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, was a speaker at the event and presented the award for Individual Achievement. She said,
Congratulations to everyone at the event – nominees, winners and businesses. The merger of emerging talent, access to the best pools of knowledge and the positive attitude of business to stretch outside their comfort boundaries has resulted in the collective successes we celebrated today. UCP is one of the best Convergence examples of intelligent intervention to assist business and individuals' growth that we've seen over the last decade
Hosting the event was UCP and Unlocking Potential Programme Director, Allyson Glover. She’s delighted with the successes of the graduates and the success of this event which rewards them all:
The Keay Theatre in St Austell was transformed into a networking extravaganza where hundreds of delegates from Cornwall’s business community were able to gather, to make connections and to recognise achievements in others. The nomination videos by Sideways Cornwall, beautiful trophies by UCF student David Forsyth and the UCP “Network Notepads” designed by a UCP start-up business, Liminal ensured this event really went off with a bang and proved Cornwall is bursting with graduate talent.