Another year at Generation Next has flown by for our team, but that hasn’t stopped us continuing to build on our 2021 growth and developing our service offering.
We navigated our first year of running a face-to-face events programme, and although we have finally had a year free from Covid-19 guidelines, 2022 has still been a bumpy ride.
Recovery plans for many businesses continue to be impacted by the cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine, which has continued to impact supply chains and created a simultaneous cost-of-doing-business crisis, meaning we must negotiate tricky terrain as we head into 2023.
At East Midlands Chamber, we are continuing to influence Government to get the support businesses need. We recently launched a blueprint for growing the regional and national economy in A Centre of Trading Excellence: A Business Manifesto for Growth in the East Midlands and Beyond during a special reception attended by MPs at Westminster.
While the landscape has moved on from the pandemic, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the business community, but we can’t take our eye off developing the skills and knowledge of our people. After two years being shut in, it’s important our younger generation keeps putting itself out there to build networks.
So when we sat down to plan our 2023 plan for Generation Next, we wanted to develop a varied programme to help young professionals continue their professional development at an affordable rate.
But to do that, we had to reflect on the year so far.
We kicked off the year by launching our mentoring scheme, which connects our members with business leaders from across the region.
Our mentors have a range of expertise, including communications, leadership, people and manufacturing. They dedicate their time to support a mentee with industry-specific knowledge, or soft skill development.
The scheme can be accessed via a member-exclusive portal, which also contains helpful documents to help users create a positive mentor-mentee relationship, as well as advice on a host of other transferable skills.
The project is well underway, and we’re starting to collect success stories from members who have benefited from the programme.
We have been thrilled to run our first full year of face-to-face events to complement our learning and development webinars, and I believe this has shown just how important it is for young professionals to get out networking.
It has been great seeing our delegates interact with people they wouldn’t usually meet on a daily basis, and we’re hoping this is only the start of fruitful connections for our members.
But our events are not like the typical business events you might expect. We’ve been on a hike in the Peak District, visited Everards Brewery, went on a “netwalk” around Wollaton Park, took part in a cocktail masterclass and hosted an interactive communications workshop.
We’ve invited business leaders from across the Chamber network, and even teamed up with other networking groups like Creative Coffee in Leicester, to share their expertise on a useful skill in our webinars, or tell their journey to success in our face-to-face events.
We also ran two Peer Network cohorts, facilitated by the Chamber and D2N2 Growth Hub, to bring our members together to work through common issues in their careers.
With 556 delegates attending our programme of events across this year, we are looking forward to building on that with our plans for 2023.
In March, we relaunched our annual Generation Next Awards programme for young professionals to showcase their achievements in business over the past year.
After announcing the finalists during a special event at the stylish Cosy Club in Nottingham, all our attention turned to the summer awards ceremony.
It wouldn’t be Generation Next if we organised a typical business awards-style event, so on 14 July, more than 220 delegates joined us at Bustler Market in Derby to celebrate our finalists and winners.
Thankfully, the British weather was on our side and we threw a festival-style celebration, with street food vans, feel-good anthems and a shorter awards programme so people could get back to the party.
At this point, I’d like to thank our partners for making our awards ceremony happen through their sponsorship of the awards. Our headline partner the University of Derby, and other partners Nottingham University Business School, RSM UK, PPL PRS, Fraser Stretton Property Group and MacIntyre Hudson, have also supported our regular events programme in providing invaluable expertise to our members.
It was amazing to hear all the success stories from the winners – it hammered home just how impressive is the young talent within the East Midlands and we are proud to champion it.
This year, we’ve welcomed new members to our board, including Rikan Patel and Karishma Karia, and appointed vice-chair Daniel Nikolla, who will now take over chair from Emma Baumback at the Chamber’s AGM next week.
I’d like to thank Emma on behalf of all the team. She has truly been a fantastic first chair of the network, and I look forward to her continued involvement on the board of East Midlands Chamber.
Our board continues to meet every three months, and have developed project groups to support our team with events, content development and membership recruitment – we couldn’t be more grateful for the support.
Our events programme for 2023 will be structured by key topics to help build our members’ transferable skills to the benefit of their overall career development.
We framed our themes based on a membership feedback survey to ensure we are hitting the most beneficial topics for young professionals.
And don’t worry, our monthly networking events will continue. We are still aiming to create fun, comfortable environments for our members to come together and practise their networking skills – while also getting out the office to do something different!
We are kicking off the new year by launching a new series of the Generation Next Awards. We have refreshed the categories and shortened application forms to give more young people in the region a chance to apply.
I look forward to meeting everyone at our launch event at Quad Derby on 11 January, where we will welcome Dean Jackson, founder of sportswear and triathlon wear specialist HUUB.
Dean is a fantastic speaker who knows a thing or two about celebrating success as a business, being a recipient of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2021.
So to get ahead of the curve and ask for some top advice about applying for business awards, come along to the event.
We’re also working hard to add new advice sheets and documents to the members-only portal on our website.
The content will complement the event themes for 2023 to ensure you have a holistic support package to work through during the coming year.
Join our 325-strong community of members in time for the new year. Get in touch with our team at email@example.com to talk through our membership packages. Employers can find out how Generation Next can benefit their young employees by visiting www.generationnextemc.co.uk/employer-guide.