Archive for May, 2012

Cardiff University student Becky Wilson joined Petersens on a 10-week GO Wales work experience placement, which today sadly comes to an end! Here she talks about how she found it….

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how my Petersens work experience was shaping. I was excited about visiting clients and was quickly getting to grips with the ins and outs of the PR world. Today is my final day at Petersens, and I am truly grateful for the many exciting and new experiences I have gained through my ten weeks here.

My time at Petersens has definitely been ‘time well spent’. I have been involved in working with many different clients, writing press releases, and researching different forms of media, clients and competitions. All of this has informed me about how PR is such a versatile industry, as each of the tasks I was given was different to the next.

In my last blog I told you how excited I was to be taking a trip to visit a client. This was very informative as, despite the torrential downfall I was able to see how to develop an angle, and turn an interview into a news story. We really enjoyed our morning out from the office, but after getting flooded feet, it was nice to get back into the comfort of the office.

Alongside that experience, I have also been lucky enough to be involved with the organisation and running of the Cardiff Breakfast Club, a monthly business networking event organised by Petersens. I must admit going to my first event was slightly daunting. With the very early wake up call, and the knowledge of having to greet over a hundred people, I was slightly worried, but Sally ensured me that I had nothing to worry about, and of course I didn’t. It was a wonderful morning, with a great breakfast and an interesting speaker. It was a great way to see how a PR company can be involved in so many different aspects of the business world. Rob was kind enough to invite me to help out at a second Breakfast Club, and I jumped at the chance. Through assisting with both of these events, I was able to gain experience in setting up and managing events, and learn how to interact at a networking event, something that will help me when it comes to joining the ‘business world’.

I am sad to have come to end of my time at  Petersens, but I am grateful for all the help, guidance and experience that the people at Petersens have given me. I know that this placement has not only be valuable for my CV but valuable for my own knowledge of the career field I wish to go in to.  I send the best of wishes to the next student who gets to experience work in this fantastic company, I know that they will never be bored.

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Perhaps due to an uncharacteristic lack of rain, this morning the Cardiff Breakfast Club welcomed a decidedly chirpy audience to hear guest speaker Adrian Clark, Chairman of Cardiff & Co, discuss how to “sell Cardiff to the world”.

After 30 years with Legal and General, working in Thailand, Indonesia and all over the UK, Adrian joined Cardiff & Co in January of this year. The organisation was established in 2007 with the overarching aim to “enthuse” others about Cardiff as a location – for business, investment, study or even just a short break – and Adrian described his own passion for this “wonderful part of the world”, which he has “no desire to leave”.

Cardiff has undoubtedly had success in a number of areas in recent years. Remarking on Suzi Clay’s presentation at last month’s Breakfast Club, Adrian noted Cardiff’s move into the top 5 shopping destinations in the UK, thanks to the regeneration of the St David’s shopping centre and the Hayes. This success is also evident in our 4 “superb” universities, and the city’s world-renowned capability to host major international sporting and cultural events. Perhaps tellingly, a hugely inspiring video documenting just some of these led many attendees to observe, “I didn’t know we did that here”. Cardiff not only has past achievements to be proud of, but also enormous future potential –which needs to be shouted about to maximise investment in the region in the future.

Cardiff has some significant advantages as a business location, as Adrian himself experienced. When establishing Legal and General’s Cardiff base, Cardiff was chosen over many other locations for, among other reasons, the “abundant supply of talented and employable people” to recruit. However, he stressed the importance of not looking solely at ourselves, but increasing our external focus. To succeed in any competitive marketplace it is vital to actively monitor your competitors. Drawing again on his experience in the financial services industry, Adrian would routinely monitor “every competitor every day”. We need to be honest about both the regions Cardiff is being measured against, and closely watch what these regions are doing. As Adrian emphasised, “you can guarantee they will be watching us”.

Competition is by no means a bad thing, however. Adrian used Cardiff’s four “superb”, “business-focussed” universities as an example. The presence of competitors creates “competitive tension”, encouraging organisations to challenge themselves, be inventive, and above all, deliver. With the sheer difference in size a factor influencing the competition between Cardiff and areas like Manchester and Birmingham, Adrian stressed the need to embrace the Cardiff City Region approach, and quickly.

Summarising just what Cardiff needs to succeed, Adrian said that flexibility, readiness, and positivity were key. We must have “all component parts” in position and primed for action, and consider not whether someone can be accommodated, but how. Reflecting on his experiences in Thailand, where he found “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” a frustratingly common phrase, Adrian ended by enthusing that when it comes to Cardiff, we should work together to ensure the answer is always yes – not maybe.

We all tend to live life according to routine, and one day can drift in another often without us noticing. But every now and then you have a totally new experience, some of which can be really memorable. Such was my day yesterday, when I was invited to spend a day at sea with the captain and crew of the Royal Navy’s latest warship, HMS Dragon.

Enter the dragon: The £1 billion destroyer, HMS Dragon, has close links with Cardiff.

We had a delicious supper on board on Wednesday evening, with the Lieutenant Commander John Fitzpatrick RN, second in command aboard, and some of his officers – Jason, Frankie and Helen to name a few – then spent many hours yesterday on board being shown the quite staggering firepower and defence system of this £1 billion warship.

HMS Dragon joined the Royal Navy Service Fleet in April 2011 and is currently based in Portsmouth. Part of the Daring Class, Type 45 Destroyer Dragon has what is considered to be the most powerful air defence system in the world. I was just amazed at the warship’s capabilites and the professionalism of Darren Houston, Commanding Officer, and his crew, many from Wales, who made all the visitors very much at home.

We saw a demonstration off the Isle of Wight by a Lynx helicopter, and experienced in the opps room how a mock air attack could be repelled by the ship’s air defence systems.

Affiliated with Cardiff, which also homes the HMS Dragon Affiliated Mess (known as the HMS Dragon Aux. Wardroom), HMS Dragon is still undergoing trials before being deployed next year.

When we were told that the Rolls Royce gas turbine engines used to power the ship are of similar power to those which powered Concorde, and jumbo aircraft, you start to realise the capabilities of this awesome ship! I was completely blown away when one of the control room engineers explained that the electric power generated by the two onboard electric motors, 20MW each, could power a modest town if ever required during an emergency!

With government cutbacks affecting all aspects of our armed forces it was refreshing to visit one investment in our Navy which will protect our shores and those of our allies for decades to come. I left Portsmouth having made some great new friends, and reassured that this is a group of very professional and highly skilled young men and women. Extremely well-led, they will be patrolling the world’s seas acting as a powerful deterrent to those who would wish us harm.

Safe sailing Dragon, and thanks for welcoming me on board.

You can find out more about HMS Dragon by visiting the British Warships Association website at www.bwa.org.uk.

Further to my blog about ‘sweatworking a few months ago, I was delighted to read Claire Rees’s article in today’s Western Mail that at last a leisure centre in Swansea has introduced a new timetable, created to allow those healthy SME owners amongst us to have a lunchtime spinning of circuits session whilst conducting a business conversation!

Sweatworking: Will you be joining the trend?

I other SMEs are like me, business is often done post-training, in the changing room, cafe or bar. With time to precious for SME’s, a brief meeting with a business contact in the gym itself can result in the feel-good-factor for both parties before hitting the bar or cafe. It will be interesting to see what the business sector in Swansea make of this new facility!

While mentioning the time pressures experienced by most SMEs, it is worth noting another article in today’s paper. Rhodri Evans reports on an excellent campaign, “Real Life Entrepreneurs”, being launched by the Federation of Small Businesses. The campaign calls for our AM’s to spend a day with a local business in their constituency during the summer recess, for them to get a real understanding of how they function and the hurdles they face.

As I have also mentioned previously (see this blog post), if every one of Wales’ 124,000 microenterprises  (ie. those employing 1 to 8 staff) took on one extra employee, our unemployment levels in Wales would be dramatically reduced.

As an SME or microbusiness, I very much look forward to hearing how this campaign progresses. Perhaps one or more AMs would be prepared to meet their SMEs whilst undertaking a sweatworking session in their local leisure centre – although I am not sure how many could last the pace!