This February half-term, two lucky students from Trinity School in Carlisle are spending a week with Story Homes to gain significant insight into the world of work as part of the Centre for Leadership Performance’s Dream Placement Scheme.
The week long placement differs from the usual type of work experience as the focus is on leadership. This will give the students valuable knowledge and skills in understanding how business leaders work and the challenges they face.
First day on the job
Becky, 16 from Carlisle hopes that the Dream Placement will provide her with more knowledge of the working world as she feels that school doesn’t give her a great view of how businesses work. She feels as though the placement will allow her to broaden her communications skills, as well as helping her to develop necessary skills in life that will help towards her getting a job in the future.
Jake, 17 from Brampton currently has limited work experience and isn’t quite sure what he wants to do as a career and hopes that the placement will be instrumental in helping him decide what he ultimately would like to pursue in the future.
Sarah Glass from the Centre for Leadership Performance said: “We are always so impressed by the students we see – their talent and commitment is amazing. That is also reflected by the commitment of our host companies who are determined to ensure their students gain a hugely beneficial experience.”
The students were welcomed to Story House in Carlisle by our HR team. Having been issued with ID badges and a quick tour of the building they were whisked straight into a corporate induction session along with nine other newcomers. The induction aims to give our new starters a feel for the culture and work ethic at Story Homes. They heard from the CEO, Steve Errington who spoke to the group about the company’s aspirational plans for growth and aims of becoming a national housebuilder. Story Homes’ Chairman, Fred Story welcomed Becky and Jake to their temporary Story family and talked about the history of the company and how it’s grown to be the award winning business it is today.
After a jam-packed morning, Becky and Jake were handed their ‘mission’ for the week and introduced to various managers from across the business who will be supporting them through the process. They were presented with two pieces of land and working with our different teams, they must understand the opportunities and constraints for each piece of land. At the end of the week they are to present their recommendations back to the team on the land they believe Story Homes should progress with.
Becky and Jake said they’ve had a brilliant first day and feel like they know a lot more about the business and are looking forward to getting stuck into their mission!
A bit breezy out on site!
Today Becky and Jake went out to visit the two plots of land presented to them as part of their ‘mission’ with Jan Carruthers, Land Buyer at Story Homes. They visited one site in Carlisle and another one in Workington.
Jan talked through the process of how land is brought to our attention and explained the considerations that must be taken into account when making decision on the feasibility of sites, i.e. drainage, levels and access routes.
The afternoon was spent doing a Q&A session with CEO, Steve Errington and then with Director of Sales, Louise McGuckin and Sales Manager, Susan Pollard helping Becky and Jake decide how many houses to plan for the site and which house types to use taking into account economic and demographic information for the areas.
They are both really enjoying the week so far and already have an idea of which piece of land they think is the better option! Watch this space…
Planning their presentation
After a day outside in the cold on site yesterday morning, Becky and Jake enjoyed spending some time back in the office today to knuckle down and plan their presentation for the end of the week.
They spent time with the Technical team to talk through their findings from the site visit. They helped them understand the different things to consider when looking at new sites including the topography of the land and any engineering issues, the planning process, house type design options and much more!
Following some further conversations with the Sales team talking through their findings from the research they did yesterday they have now come to a definite decision on which piece of land they are going to present on Friday.
Jake said: “It’s been really interesting getting to understand the different parts of the organisation so far and what each team does and how they all fit together.”
Becky and Jake were back at the flip chart stand first thing this morning working through the detail for their presentation and brushing up on their presentation skills with the help of the HR team.
Getting to grip with the numbers
They then had the opportunity to spend some time with Commercial Director, Simon Ashworth and his team, speaking with some of our Quantity Surveyors to find out more about the decision making process and viability appraisals for the mix of houses they’ve selected to have on their chosen plot of land – which involves reviewing the cost against revenue. So they are now confident that their numbers stack up – all they need to do next is to sell their recommendations in the board room tomorrow. Good luck!
It is the final day of the Dream Placement and Becky and Jake are preparing to present their findings to the team at Story Homes. Both admitted that they try to avoid presentations where possible but they had learned so much throughout the week that they spoke confidently and with enthusiasm about their subject. The pair made their recommendations about which piece of land Story Homes should pursue, providing arguments for and against from their market research, costing of the project, consideration for possible constraints and advice from third parties. CEO Steve Errington praised Jake and Becky on the great points they picked up on, the knowledge they had gained from colleagues at Story Homes and their own research, which enabled them to make a recommendation, which the business agreed with. Steve added that he was impressed with their confident and measured approach to the presentation.
Becky said of her week: “It has been a very hands on week and we have had access all areas to the business. It was much more detailed than I expected but I really enjoyed it. It has been invaluable and there is a real family feel here because everybody works as one team. It has been helpful to work out what I want to do in the future and I was really keen on the sales and marketing aspects of the role, including why each house type is chosen and the market insight required.”
Jake added: “I liked the Commercial and Technical aspects of the business, working out the figures and the possible issues that may crop up on different sites which have to be costed and accounted for. There is a lot of problem solving and I liked being able to offer solutions. From this Dream Placement I have learned a lot about leadership and at Story Homes, I think that means giving people the ability to do their job, and learn from any mistakes they might make along the way to help them grow.”
Story Homes is delighted to have been involved in the Centre for Leadership Performance Dream Placement for the second year and we wish Becky and Jake all the best for the future in their chosen careers.