Kerri McCaughey is Head of Customer Centricity at KBC Bank with more than 20 years’ experience in the Irish banking sector, including Retail and Project Management. Prior to joining KBC Bank, Kerri was a retail branch manager in Ulster Bank and a sales adviser in Bank of Ireland. Kerri also acted as a Business Adviser to IADT through her role with Enactus Ireland and currently oversees and implements the KBC Internship programme. She is a Qualified Financial Adviser.
At the beginning of 2017, I had the privilege of working on the inaugural joint KBC/Enactus Internship Programme on behalf of KBC. KBC partnered with Enactus on a summer internship programme with the aim of teaching students transferable skills which they could then take forward in their career post college.
In order to take part in this, students were required to undertake a gruelling “Dragon’s Den” style selection process where applicants had to pitch their business or product idea to a panel of KBC senior management (watched by an audience of 100 KBC staff I should add)—once completed 4 interns began their three month internship at KBC.
At KBC, it was vital to us that we imparted wisdom and knowledge to the students. In order to successfully do this we made sure that each student joined a different part of the business including marketing, products and data analytics. The objective was to enable the students to “soak up” as much knowledge across the organisation as possible during their three month stay.
Little did we know what we were taking on—it was not us, as a group of financial industry professionals, who were doing the teaching. The amount of inspiration, energy, passion, new thinking and entrepreneurial spirit that these young people displayed is difficult to describe. Not only were they a joy to be around but so happy to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to the task at hand, no matter how daunting. Buoyed by the enthusiasm of youth and untouched by the cynicism of the workplace, “how can we improve this?” was the question that was uttered most often by our new student contingent.
It was us as an organisation who gained from this experience—they gave us a glimpse into the future generation of the Irish workforce and what an encouraging sight this was to see. In an age where we are quick to criticise the “millennial generation”, I would encourage anyone to work with a young person from Enactus and experience the work ethic that these students have. I have seen this work ethic in each and every Enactus member that I have had the pleasure of interacting with over the past two years. I truly believe that the Enactus core values of imagination, determination, curiosity, courage, partnership and accountability are instilled in and displayed by all of the students who get involved.
But what about practical skills I hear you ask? Whilst it’s fantastic to have a great attitude, an altruistic ethos and drive and ambition, what about the tangibles?
I know for a fact that during my own student days I was not setting up my own business. I wasn’t coming up with a concept, setting budgets, scheduling resources, sourcing materials, building business relationships, managing staff and/or managing time. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t just in general trying to make the world a better place.
In my eyes when a student joins Enactus they have a unique opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into the business world. They learn about strategy, planning, persistence, resilience and team work. They also learn that things don’t always go your way but that there is great learning in every attempt.
So, does Enactus equip students with skills that take them beyond the classroom? It’s a resounding yes from me.