Communities

How Enterprise Challenge showed Ella a new world

23 Apr 2018

Ahead of this year's final, last year's winner explains how programme's impact went beyond business

"When something seems hard now, you think, 'If I've done the Enterprise Challenge, I can do this as well'."

Eighteen months ago, the Derby County Community Trust visited The Pingle Academy, in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, to talk about the Premier League Enterprise Challenge.

Ella Dowling was in Year 9 and was one of the students who met the Trust.

"We had literally no idea about anything to do with Business Studies," Ella says. "But we got into little groups and came up with ideas.

"It was all new but we found it interesting so we carried on with it.

"There was a trial and our team won!"

Before she knew it, Ella and her schoolfriends were representing Derby County at the regional PL Enterprise Challenge play-offs at Stoke City's bet365 Stadium.

They emerged victorious again, this time against other schools, to go through to the national final.

Premier League Enterprise Challenge final, the Pingle School
Ella (right) and her Pingle School team-mates celebrate winning last year's PL Enterprise Challenge

"We were ecstatic," says Ella. "But the hard work did not stop there.

"The judges told us what to improve so we spent months on that.

"We spent every lunchtime and after-school session working on the pitch, making sure we knew it word for word."

Then they headed off to EY's headquarters in London.

"The backdrop of the City of London and all the businesspeople there was interesting, but it was very scary, too."

The nerves did not affect the Pingle team.

"When we'd done our pitch we were really happy. None of us stumbled. We were asked really difficult questions but we thought we'd done OK."

They had done better than that. They were voted the winners by the panel of judges.

"I don't think we really believed it was happening," says Ella. "We didn’t expect to win the first trial at school, so to win the whole thing was a bit of a shock."

Now in Year 10, Ella and her team-mates are still feeling the benefits of the experience.

"We have been much more interested in business, and we're so much more confident when we talk to people or speaking in public," the 14-year-old says.

"I'm a lot more confident working in teams and leading teams, going to new places. I'm not as nervous doing anything like that any more.

"It shows you a lot about the world of work, but also working in a team and how to meet new people. It's a unique experience.

"I wouldn't have thought about business at all before the Challenge, but I’d definitely consider a career in it now."

Ella and her team-mates will be at EY on 23 April to help the six finalists in the 2018 PL Enterprise Challenge.

What advice does she have for those taking part?

"Stay calm but be prepared, and jump into it head-first. You've got to give everything."

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