The first industry event of 2019 for Pearson College London got off to a great start with a fascinating and thought-provoking challenge set by the strategic management team of Boots.

With close to 2500 stores and a 170 year history, Boots is a brand that has instant recognition. Despite this, similar to the issues of many high street stores, Boots is grappling with the issue regarding the behaviour of the younger generation and their growing relationship with online platforms. As such, it was the task of Pearson College London students to come up with innovative ways in which Boots can repurpose their strategy to increase their appeal to young people.

With such high drive, students developed ideas to challenge all aspects of Boots' current services, focusing on areas including:

  • Beauty
  • Health
  • Loyalty Schemes
  • Opticians
  • Technology

With Pearson College London already offering a vast number of industry events, students were able to apply previously attained knowledge to this task, with Augmented Reality (AR) and interactive screens being considered to tackle the theme of technology and beauty.

This was a useful task for students, with them being given 2 hours to research, prepare and deliver a 3 minute presentation, replicating the scenario of a fast-moving, instant outcome that students may find themselves in when attending assessment centres for job applications. The 3 minute presentation time limit highlighted to students how they need to prioritise key points, and ensure a key understanding on just 3 or 4 factors, and how some areas may need to be ignored in order to ensure time limits are not exceeded upon. This is an incredibly important skill for fast pitching.

The task was fantastic for improving students' knowledge on how to develop a strong presentation with the marking criteria including:

  • The need for a defined structure so the audience can understand the direction of the presentation and the outline of points that the presenter will touch upon.
  • The need to be energetic, engaging and knowledgeable about the information the speaker is delivering so that the audience feel inclined to listen deeply.
  • The need to develop creative and innovative solutions that have previous experience of working, and how they can be applicable to the industry the business is in, and why this could create competitive advantage for a business against its rivals.

Steve and Fergal, of Boots, engaged greatly with the ideas presented from all teams, highlighting how impressed they were with students due to the use of their critical and creative thinking skills in such a short time. They both mentioned how some of the presented ideas had already been highlighted in strategy meetings, and were indeed being implemented in the near future, showing how students already had a business mind in addressing business concerns.

Furthermore, they were even more impressed with how some key areas for expansion suggested by students had previously been overlooked by themselves, such as offerings to improve their mental health services, and the option for a 24-hour grab-and-go pick up service for beauty products. These ideas have helped to empower the thought process of the Boots team.

The winning team have been given the fantastic opportunity to travel to the Boots Headquarters in Nottingham, where they will deliver a 15 minute presentation to the larger strategic management team regarding their ideas for improving Boots.

All attendees have gained valuable knowledge, insight and feedback by attending this industry event - which can then be translated to their CVs as demonstration of a time when students have had to show good teamwork skills, as well as creative and problem solving skills.

Massive appreciation has to be given to the Fergal and Steve for choosing to set the students this challenge, as well as touching upon the opportunities students have for internships, grad schemes and work days at Boots.

I am certainly looking forward to the next industry event at Pearson College London, due to the great opportunities it possesses.

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