Chris Gledhill, Managing Director of PDMS, a software development company based in the Isle of Man with offices in Glasgow and London has returned from Tallinn, Estonia as one of ten senior business judges for the 25th Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Company of the Year Competition 2014 (“JA-YE Europe”).
Chris was nominated to the judging panel by Junior Achievement Isle of Man, after his contributions as Chairman last year. This year, 250,000 students entered the competition and only the top 38 student companies were showcased at the final, representing 500 students, teachers, business advisors and partners at the three day event that took place on 23-25th July.
JA-YE Europe is Europe's largest provider of entrepreneurship education programmes for young people, reaching 3.2 million students in 39 different countries last year alone. Funded by businesses, foundations, institutions and individuals, the aim of the charity is to bring together public and private sectors to help inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.
Commenting on the event Chris explained, “The competition was exceptionally inspiring and it was great to see the extent of the support for the event - Estonia’s Minister of Education was part of the keynote address with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, Taavi Roivas opening the Awards Ceremony.
"In particular the Prime Ministers’ reflection on his own Junior Achievement experience as an alumni was very insightful. All of the finalists demonstrated consistently high standards and the cultural diversity of the participants reflected not only their thirst for success and ambition, but talent”.
The student company finalists had been running their businesses for up to year ahead of the competition, with each company expected to create and market real products and/or services, successfully dealing with the challenges of setting up and running a business.
The coveted Company of the Year competition is judged based on an annual report, live presentations, a panel interview and a trade show on the third day of the event. Key criteria for the championships included marketing and sales strategy, objective setting, financial systems, personnel management, product or service development and customer focus.
Reflecting on the experience Chris said, “The most memorable part of the judging experience was definitely the trade show – to see the students together in such a concentrated environment with their products was fantastic – a real opportunity to get to know the students. I was also impressed by their natural engagement with and innovative use of technology – the next generations are truly digital natives!”
For those that didn’t walk away with an award on the night, Chris added, “it is important to remember that the competition itself does not define the quality of entrepreneurship displayed and is only a snapshot of the learning experience over the past year. Many of the student companies had very viable business propositions and I expect many of these to survive long after the event.”
PDMS would like to congratulate Isle of Man team Simple Minds from Ballakermeen High School, who won the People’s Choice Award for their ‘Need a Hand?’ polyurethane self-sealing gloves to pick up dog waste through Facebook votes. Their Rio Allison was also selected as one of only 15 students to receive the Alumni Leadership Award.
Overall competition winner was E14-Magma from Iceland, who designed and produced souvenir shot glasses made from black clay and Icelandic lava.
Chris commented, “Winning the People’s Choice Award this year – through online voting was a fantastic joined up effort coordinated by JA IOM and proves how well connected the Island can be. PDMS has been a long standing supporter of JA IOM and we look forward to the next company programme”.