I always enjoy being at the Sainsbury Management Fellows’ Annual Dinner for two reasons. Firstly, because it is good to spend time in the company of people who share one’s views on the importance of engineering for enterprise and wealth creation. And, secondly, because I am immensely proud of what you do, and that you have taken ownership of the Sainsbury Management Fellows scheme. When the scheme was set up 29 years ago the idea was simply to fund a small number of the best young engineers to go abroad to get MBAs.
But since those early days, because of your enthusiasm, the scheme has developed into a wide-ranging dynamic organisation which demonstrates to young people that there are exciting and rewarding opportunities in engineering, and which does a brilliant job in helping young engineers take advantage of those opportunities. The figures I like most of all are those which relate to the new businesses that Fellows have set up:
- Over 150 Fellows have founded or co-founded a business, with a total value of over £4.5 billion and in the process created over 18,000 jobs
- Over 270 new businesses founded by Sainsbury Management Fellows are still in operation
I have also been greatly impressed by the work you now do to promote engineering as an exciting, well-paid and fulfilling career to young people. I am delighted that Sainsbury Management Fellows continue to help with the selection and mentoring of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Engineering Leadership Award Winners and that you participated in the Royal Academy’s Executive Engineers’ Programme.
Sainsbury Management Fellows have made an enormous contribution to the success of both schemes over many years. For the Engineering Leadership Award programme, Sainsbury Management Fellows have acted as interviewers in the selection process and have mentored over 1,000 awardees, and delivered training sessions at the Annual Training Weekend for awardees. And there is one Sainsbury Management Fellow who has worked tirelessly on this programme, so let me say thank you again to James Raby whose contribution to the success of the Engineering Leadership Award programme has been exceptional.
I am also extremely pleased that Sainsbury Management Fellows have volunteered to help out with the Enterprise Hub, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s exciting initiative to encourage business minded UK based engineers to start their own companies. Several Sainsbury Management Fellows have volunteered to be mentors to these young engineers and others have supported events during the year – Chris Martin, Piers Copham, Hersh Shah, Richard Smith and Grant Wood. Others have participated in specific events – David Falzani helped with the Leaders in Innovation Fellowship programme and Imoni Akpofure assisted in the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Several Sainsbury Management Fellows have signed up for the Enterprise Hub Showcase on the 18 May including Adam Bazire and Sam Cockerill. I hope many more of you will step forward and join Adam and Sam to support this event.
There are two other specific programmes that show real initiative and have achieved significant results: The Silicon Valley Internship Programme, launched by Sainsbury Management Fellow Michael Hughes to inspire entrepreneurialism in the UK, is now in its fourth year and proving very successful. The Silicon Valley Internship Programme aims to give new UK software engineering graduates the unique experience of working at a Silicon Valley start-up through a one-year internship, in the hope that this experience will bring a little of the Silicon Valley attitude back to the entrepreneurial community in the UK. More than 48 young engineers have been through the programme and Mike and his team are now selecting the fourth cohort. The Silicon Valley Internship Programme has grown substantially this year with almost 1,000 applications, with more than 850 from women. It will have between 35 and 45 interns starting in September 2016. I think this is an excellent programme which benefits everyone involved and ultimately brings significant commercial benefit back to the UK.
The second initiative is the Sainsbury Management Fellows Engineers in Business Competition at Nottingham University Business School which challenged students to create a novel product concept that meets a real need in society and also to demonstrate the use of engineering skills in the creative process. This is the second year that this competition was held at Nottingham and participation of engineering students in this business elective course increased by 25%. I am pleased that this competition will now be rolled out to 10 new universities over the next four years.
All those schemes demonstrate that there are exciting and rewarding jobs for young people in engineering, and it is initiatives such as these that will attract more young people into engineering, and enhance people’s view of it and the contribution it makes to wealth creation and the quality of people’s lives.
Finally, can I say that I am delighted that the fundraising programme has reached the £2 million mark. This is excellent progress and it means that you believe in the scheme and share my ambitions for it. I am delighted that many SMFs have already “given back” to the scheme by giving a gift towards the endowment fund. I am very pleased that you are helping to extend the vision of the fellowship into the future. I would like to commend the efforts of the fundraising team, especially Chairman Simon Bonini who was ably assisted by Mike Gansser-Potts during Simon’s time in Houston.
It is good to have so many invited guests who come from many different economic sectors along with a record number of Fellows here tonight. Enjoy the rest of the evening, please talk to your neighbours about what we can do better in the years ahead, and I look forward to seeing you again next year.