Upon arriving on my second day I was again greeted with several warm greetings, which came to me as no surprise. Like yesterday several members of the office were absent, which was a terrible shame as I was planning to interview them, discussing everything from development of the internet to how they first got started. However due to the professionalism and brilliance showed by the team here, it was arranged that I would speak to two experienced members of the team.
I first spoke to Janet Grant, a lovely lady who was very friendly to me. We sat down in a casual room that housed comfy sofas and inspirational books, and began to converse. We first discussed what it was that the two teams here did. The first team, (made up of Janet Grant, Samantha Deakin and Darren Chouings) were the team who all specialised in helping the young entrepreneurs to develop their true potential. Their unique blend of intelligent minds with relatable faces provide just the right amount of support for the optimistic without pushing too hard. Each member of the ‘Evolve Team’ have first hand experience of the stress that starting a business brings, as Janet told me:
“All of the team know what it feels like when the economy is good and business is going well. We have also experienced the crushing defeat that a bad economy can leave you with.”
These personal experiences are what make the team so valuable. The team are not just assistants that have a degree. These people are not employed for their brilliant ideas. When you work with any one of the Evolve team, you are getting a friend. You are getting someone who can really understand the emptiness that constant trying and being unsuccessful leaves you with. They know how to help and are always available to offer support without being at the front holding your hand. They understand.
“We are not just business partners; we are sort of like critical friends.”
The entire team are polite, friendly and very intelligent people of business. All of them have a different speciality to fit your needs and aren’t afraid to tell you if you are doing something wrong. They are not too polite, but nor are they rude. They understand.
I then spoke to a member of another USE team. This team is called the Admin team, dealing with the heart of USE. The Evolve team do a fantastic job in helping the businesses to get their ideas up and running, but behind the scenes the Admin team are the ones who provide the team with the ability to help. They also supervise all of the internships, so it is thanks to their hard work (and the hard work of many others) that you are reading this blog. They speak about any problems people have in the workplace. They oversee all finance. They are responsible for countless other things too, like making sure people get their wages. It is not an exaggeration to say that if it wasn’t for this team, then the USE we know and love would not be anywhere near as helpful as it is now.
I spoke to Alison Wright, the most longstanding member of the Admin team. Alison told me that she had been working in USE for over 10 years, so I knew that if anyone could help me to better understand the role of the USE in the lives of young entrepreneurs, it would be her. I started by asking her what qualifications a person who is wanting to work in a position similar to hers would need. Her answer was this:
“You definitely need to know how to use a computer. Good English and maths are always something that universities are after no matter what job you want to do. Being able to get along with people, you need to know how to work with others no matter what you do. Really, so long as you are good at working in a team as well as working as an individually then you will be okay.”
I then followed up that question by asking Alison what she thought was the most valuable skill you will need to do her job, she said that it was:
“Definitely knowing your way around a computer. I would say that you will need this in future but who knows with how amazing smart phones and tablets are. For all we know they might replace big computers.”
It was clear from speaking to Alison that not only were the team here that help with contributing ideas to entrepreneurs fantastic, but support behind the scenes was as well.
I then spoke to Mark Musgrave, a new young businessman who was currently working on his own business. Mark is working on his own ethical clothing line that helps to support those in countries who cannot help themselves, like those in Romania and Kathmandu. To help him with his generous idea, Darren, part of the evolve team is working with Mark in order to help him and his idea expand.
I asked Mark what he likes about what the USE, and after a brief moments thought, he listed the following.
- Provides great areas
- Like minded people around
- Free WiFi
- Great support from professionals
- Allows freedom
- Meetings help him to decide what he wants to focus on.
I then asked Mark what he thought was his very favourite thing about USE was, and after a long time to consider which part of the list was his favourite, he finally decided:
“I think the fact that you can come in and talk to other like minded people. You can come in and talk to them and see how their business is going, compare it to how yours is doing, share ideas, help each other out and really just relax knowing you are not the only person who is coming across obstacles.”
In my final question, I asked Mark if he could think of any way to improve the facilities here at USE. He suggested that if he could improve USE in any way, the only way he could think of is by doing this:
“I think that it would be great if the USE had sort of monthly meetings where all three members of the evolve team and other entrepreneurs like myself came together and helped one person by contributing ideas. Like suggesting to them how to tackle a certain problem that they are stuck on.”
The evolve team have a meeting with their entrepreneurs every six months, Janet told me, but it is clear that the people here certainly wouldn’t be against more regular meetings.
All in all, it was clear to me that the entire team were all very friendly and professional, and after speaking to the eager entrepreneurs it was obvious that I was not alone in this opinion. The service that the evolve team offer is a brilliant opportunity for anyone, made as easy as possible by the brilliant support of the admin team. Everyone is easy to talk to and very kind whilst also having brains to match. I would like to once again take time to thank the whole team for making my placement so enjoyable and interesting, and cannot wait to keep going with the week.
If you would like to buy some of Mark’s amazing clothes for a great cause, click here
If you would like to see the homepage of USE and learn more about what they do, click here