A graduate programme at Bosch Telecom in Germany put Klaus Allion on the path to a career in sales, but it was entrepreneurialism that brought him to the UK as Managing Director of bespoke telecommunications provider ANT Telecom and later, one of Buckinghamshire’s 1st Enterprise Advisers.
An Enterprise Adviser is an industry professional who helps ensure careers education is reflective of the real world of work by partnering with a school or college, empowering their careers leads and facilitating meaningful experiences for students.
We recently caught up with Klaus – who has been volunteering as The Highcrest Academy’s Enterprise Adviser for over seven years – following a very successful work experience placement involving two students from the academy to find out why he has and continues to dedicate so much of his time to the role.
The Enterprise Adviser initiative was still in its infancy when you got involved. What made you take the leap?
I’ve always enjoyed working with students, whether it’s mentoring, teaching or coaching, and being an Enterprise Adviser offers many opportunities to develop these skills. With little in place at the beginning, the role was initially quite hands on – getting an understanding of what the school was already doing, where it could improve, what it wanted to achieve… Then together we set up a programme for students to help them understand what career development is and how to get onto a path. Now everything’s in place, my contribution is more strategic.
How have your own experiences influenced the strategy?
I think it’s important for young people to get a taste of as many different areas of business as possible – it’s hard to know what career you’d be interested in or suited to without it. I originally thought I wanted to go into marketing, but that soon changed to sales when I realised that being in the trenches is where I thrived. That’s why a significant part of the school’s careers programme is about encouraging students to find work experience.
What does work experience at ANT Telecom look like?
It’s a real experience. Back in June, two students from Highcrest joined us for a week-long placement. They were introduced to IoT sensor technology and tasked with implementing our temperature monitoring solution in their school’s catering area. By the time a member of our team arrived to help, they had already installed the equipment and were checking the dashboard to see if the data was being received! We then asked them to analyse the data, think about how they would promote it through marketing and pull it all together into a presentation, which they pitched to the school’s deputy head and business manager.
Sounds like quite the experience for the students. What’s your motivation for taking part?
I don’t want ANT Telecom to be all about profit. The general perception is that it’s better to recruit experienced candidates as you don’t have to spend as much time coaching or training them up, but what does that say about the organisation’s culture. Even if someone doesn’t have all the skills, they often have a lot to offer in terms of new ideas and views. The Highcrest students proved this when they picked out a marketing angle we’d never thought of before.
So, would you encourage other professionals to get involved?
100%. The more businesses help students with career planning, the more prepared they’ll be for the world of work which benefits everyone. You never know, those bright young people might remember the time you invested in them and decide to come back.
Interested in volunteering as an Enterprise Adviser? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more, or head to Bucks Skills Hub to advertise your business’ work experience opportunities.