Giuditta Meneghetti is an academic who has recently secured a prestigious post as Curriculum Leader for Business and Public Services at Barking & Dagenham College (BDC), which will begin in August of this year. Giuditta will be influential in rebranding and reshaping the structure and delivery of the college’s Entrepreneur and Enterprise courses, and in preparation for her new and exciting role, Giuditta has become a member of the IOEE. This month we chatted to Giuditta about her drive to inspire young people, and how her relationship with the IOEE will help her students to flourish in the field of enterprise and entrepreneurship.
Giuditta may be at the beginning of a new chapter of her enterprising in education story, but she already has a wealth of experience, knowledge and qualifications behind her that she is excited to bring to her new role. She has a background in teaching people with barriers to education and employment, and has delivered numerous SFEDI courses. Giuditta says:
“It’s about opening the door for people. There are a lot of misconceptions that can put people off the idea of education, enterprise and entrepreneurship, but I’ve seen people from all walks of life and all levels of education make successful businesses; people with language barriers, mental health issues, physical disabilities, criminal convictions. There’s often an idea that formal education, university or running a business is only for certain types of ‘clever people’, but this only holds people back from their actual potential.”
With her recent work with JCP contracts such as the Work Program and the NEA (New Enterprise Allowance), there is one particular heart-warming success story that Giuditta was a part of, that she says never fails to inspire her:
“I worked with a lady in Southampton through the Work Program, and she had a serious struggle with fibromyalgia. She had real confidence issues and was very nervous, and we began working together on a 10-week course to develop her business idea. She was getting baby clothes, toys and other items that had hardly been used, and sorting them, cleaning them, repairing any little bits, and then selling bundles of baby items for next to nothing to help mums who were struggling to make ends meet. Within three weeks of the course her whole image had changed – she had confidence in herself, she was dressing differently, and with no previous IT skills she designed and launched a simple website; and on a business note – she was making 100% profit!
“One of her ambitions was to take herself and her partner to a restaurant for a meal, as they’d never been to a restaurant together since they met. Before the 10 weeks were up, she contacted me to tell me that she’d booked a table. Lots of people had written her off due to being unemployed for such a long time. When she set up her own website and her Mum asked her who did it, she replied, ‘I did – I’m a businesswoman now’. It was one of her proudest moments.”
Giuditta is working alongside Barking & Dagenham College’s Business Manager to create an environment where students have a more hands-on approach to learning, and part of this means that the students will actually be actively involved in the college rebrand, rather than simply benefiting from the changes:
“What we want is for the students to be learning from doing, not just sitting in a classroom, writing with a textbook and a computer, and this is an amazing opportunity to learn branding and business skills. They’ll be involved in such things as interactive workshops, running their own temporary pop-up shops, visual branding – and we’re holding a competition to design the ‘BDC for Business’ logo.
“They’ll learn about marketing too – there’s already a hair and beauty salon and a restaurant one the main site, as well as a number of other BDC businesses that will benefit from new creative marketing techniques, so one of the students’ first challenges will be remodelling this business school and creating a PR and marketing campaign together.”
Giuditta says that as the landscape of employment is changing, the approach to teaching entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial skills needs to evolve with it:
“For me, often the problem is that students aren’t getting the gist of what the real working world is like. The working world is fast-paced and we have all of these amazing resources to help us prepare, but they need to be used properly. Education needs to include experience of the the reality of life and all the changes it will throw at you – such as moving house, technological changes, health issues, or starting a family – and work with that reality. That’s what I see with my new role at the college – a fantastic environment with incredible resources, but we need to utilise all of those to their full effect.”
With the start of her new job approaching just around the corner, Giuditta tells us what fuelled her decision to become an Academic Member of the IOEE:
“I’m a huge advocate of what the IOEE does, and this is absolutely the right time for me to begin forging relationships and partnerships that will help me to connect to other entrepreneurs. I also want to be able to use my position as an IOEE member to benefit my students. I’m not a one-man-band, and I certainly don’t have all the answers – there will be lots of people more qualified than me to advise students, so it will be great to see it help students to flourish.”
The launch of the new rebranded Business Department will coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week in November this year, when the students’ efforts will be showcased and celebrated. Giuditta says:
“Their work doesn’t end there, though – as the students will be organising the event too! This new role is going to be hard work, but I absolutely love a challenge and I’m ready for it. What’s really exciting is that, despite this being education, there is the potential for students to gain so much more than a qualification. These skills can set you up for the rest of your life, and the knowledge that I can make a difference to the students’ lives and futures is what motivates me, and makes me jump out of bed in the morning.”