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Cumbria Careers Hub: Ben Slater, Energy Coast UTC, Managing Director at MissionCX

Ben Slater, Energy Coast UTC, Managing Director at MissionCX Ben Slater, Energy Coast UTC, Managing Director at MissionCX

Ben Slater, the Managing Director of MissionCX, is an Enterprise Adviser at the Energy Coast UTC. Here, he shares his career story and what she finds most rewarding about volunteering with Cumbria Careers Hub as an Enterprise Adviser.

Tell us about your day job… what does it involve?
Very varied, managing all aspects of our business along-side our Senior Management team, as well as overseeing delivery of numerous projects across the UK & France. In a day I can be generating sales, working on marketing strategy, managing business operations, or supporting site teams with technical issues and much more.

What is the best thing about your job?
Meeting new people and working with those who I have worked with for many years. I also like the expansive nature of running your own business. We are very focused on innovation and technology, so we get to play with loads of cool stuff.

Tell us about your education and career history…
I went Walney comprehensive, where I got good GCSE’s (A’s and B’s) but I had to graft for them. My strongest subjects were art and graphic design, so I was never particularly focused on becoming an engineer. I wanted to be a vet when I was younger.

On leaving school I took an apprenticeship at Glaxo as an Instrument Technician (I’d decided against the 7 years training to be a vet and was keen to get in to work). As part of my apprenticeship I completed a HNC in Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Furness College.

When I came out of my time, I travelled round Australia for a year, before taking up contracting roles at Sellafield as Commissioning Technician. I worked my way through the ranks, on numerous large, complex projects and took my first Commissioning Managers post aged 34.

I worked for various clients as a Commissioning Manager at Sellafield and BAE before setting up MissionCX, a specialist commissioning service business aged 39 (5 years ago).

As part of my career development, I have completed various supplementary courses in leadership, project management, Health & Safety etc.

If you could pick any person or organisation to get involved in working with young people, who would it be and why?
Elon Musk – Tesla, SpaceX and other companies. An inspirational entrepreneur, with a hugely ambitious vision. Pushing all the boundaries and redefining our perception of what is possible.

What do you enjoy most about being an Enterprise Adviser?
Meeting new people through the network and of course the talented young we people we support. My hope is to support the UTC by imparting my knowledge of engineering, business and technology. Giving back is good and being an EA is an excellent way of giving back.

What would you say to someone else about the value of working with young people or being an Enterprise Adviser?
Becoming an Enterprise Advisor was my opportunity to ‘give back’ in a way that maximises my impact. The established network gives broad reach and hands-on support from the fantastic team at the Cumbria Career Hub makes getting involved easy. Being involved has really opened my eyes to need and the value of the EA role and how we can support young people as a business. We will deliver our first work experience as a result and will utilise the latest technologies to enhance this.

What would you say to any young person thinking about their future?
In Cumbria we deliver huge, complex engineering programmes of national importance. The opportunities that can be opened by a traditional engineering apprenticeship are boundless and exciting. We are globally recognised as experts in our field. An apprenticeship will provide lifelong security and can be a lunch pad for bigger ambitions. Academic qualifications completed in conjunction with apprenticeships can be used as a steppingstone university to.

The digital revolution has now decentralised how we work, so now more career options can be pursued. The days of going into an office 5 days a week are gone. Want to be an architect but don’t want to move to the big smoke? Why not?

If you are unsure about what you want to do, like I was, make choices that keep your options open.

Why should everyone have a side hustle? It allows you to pursue your dreams and aspirations, through entrepreneurial means but with comfort of knowing the bills can be paid by traditional employment. Start a business on the side, doing something you are passionate about. Trial, experiment and validate the viability of your business before jumping in with both feet. MissionCX was started as a ‘side hustle’.

The internet has levelled the learning playing field. If you want to learn about anything, you can, the information is instantly at your disposal. The key is being targeted in your learning.

Degrees are for the minority (in my experience) who are academically minded. If you don’t have a degree that does not mean you don’t have the same opportunities, you just need to look for the alternative paths.

Travel when you are young or fit enough to get the most from it. It is a big wide world, go and see it! In addition to my twelve month stint in Australia, I have completed another two major trips. One around the world, taking in India, South East Asia, Australasia and another that took us the length and breadth of the Americas.

There is a range of opportunities in Cumbria for business-people and organisations to engage and benefit from partnership with local schools and colleges.

We are looking for employers to share their career story and inspire the next generation through videos, virtual work experience and engaging with school career events; The Enterprise Adviser Network – which Ben is a part of – involves business volunteers working with a specific school or college to strengthen and support career programmes; and becoming a Cornerstone Employer allows businesses to represent their sector and give a Cumbria-wide view. Together, they aim to ensure all young Cumbrians are prepared and inspired for the world of work.

If you’re interested in getting involved, or would like more information, please email Craig Ivison, Cumbria LEP Skills Manager:

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