The Future Business Leader semi-finalists

Students through to Finals of the Undergraduate of the Year Awards

Two University of Exeter students, Francesca Michaud and Tom Charman, have been selected as Future Business Leader of the Year finalists at the Undergraduate of the Year Awards. The Awards run by TARGETjobs are an annual competition, which aims to find the best undergraduate in the UK in a variety of categories.

The Future Business Leader of the Year Award is sponsored by Mars and will be awarded to someone who enjoys leading, motivating and inspiring others and who has a strong knowledge of business principles and the challenges faced by the business world. Francesca and Tom had to pass a rigorous selection process, consisting of several stages. After an online application, they had to complete a series of psychometric tests, including a situational judgement test, an Occupational Personality Questionnaire test and an inductive reasoning test, all designed to determine the candidates’ suitability for the award.

Both Francesca and Tom successfully made it through the first two stages and were then invited to the third stage of the competition, led by Mars. After a phone interview, 20 candidates were selected and invited to attend an assessment centre at the Mars factory in Slough, where the 10 finalists would be chosen. Representatives from Mars led a full day of challenging activities for the remaining students, including preparing and presenting a case study, a group assessment to test teamwork and conflict resolution, and a final individual interview. Tom and Francesca thrived under the pressure and clearly demonstrated their aptitude for business leadership, both making it through to the finals.

Third year student Francesca, who is studying BA Business and Management with Industrial Experience, saw the competition both as a unique opportunity to get an insight into the FMCG sector and as valuable experience of the selection processes used by employers, such as Mars. She said: “I was first attracted to the competition because Mars was sponsoring the ‘Future Business Leader’ Award and I’m very interested in working in the FMCG sector.”  

“When I applied I never thought I would come this far. At first, I just saw it as good practice for future application processes and didn’t think too much of it. The fact that I am attending the final ceremony event still feels a bit unreal. The amount of confidence I have gained during this experience has definitely been a game changer for my professional growth.”

“Some students don't apply for competitions like this because they fear failure or they don’t think they have what it takes. A few months ago, I also saw "failure" as something terrible but now I believe it’s just a learning experience. In my opinion, failure only occurs when you give up. So give it a go, you never know what might happen.”

Final year student Tom, who is studying BSc Economics and Politics with European Study, already had a keen interest in leadership before entering the award. Tom spoke about the competition: “I entered the award, as I’ve been leading my company for the last year, and I have experience in leading, and inspiring from both being president of Exeter Entrepreneurs, and from being a business mentor for iDEA, Stanford University Online and Virgin StartUp.

“I wanted to demonstrate my understanding of leadership, as I hope one day to lead a large team, and inspire people to follow their goals in life. I thrive under pressure, and enjoy a challenge so naturally, applying for the award was something that I found to be both interesting, and aligned well with my personal values and objectives.”

“I was very happy to have been selected as a finalist, because it’s been a tough process, and there have been some extremely driven students from top universities all over the UK. Being selected as one of the final 10 students is a huge achievement in itself, and I’m looking forward to the awards ceremony.”

The 10 finalists will be attending the Undergraduate of the Year Awards in Canary Wharf, London on the 22nd April 2016, where the winner will be announced.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate of the Year Awards website.

Date: 18 April 2016

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