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Cumbria Careers Hub: Cath Howard, Social Impact Manager at BEP (Jacobs)

Photo of Cath Howard Cath Howard, Social Impact Manager at BEP

Tell us about your day job… what does it involve?
Each week is different but most days I work with a range of people from the community and not for profit groups, as well as with other Social Impact managers in the supply chain. I support activities in school that are connected to business including mock interviews, work experience and career talks. Part of my job is to encourage BEP staff to get involved in these activities too. I also have a grant fund that helps support wider community activity, especially post-COVID recovery.

What is the best thing about your job?
I love the fact it’s different every day and I meet and talk to people who really care about their communities and want to make a difference.

Tell us about your education and career history…
I left school with decent GCSE’s but my A ‘levels were not as good as predicted – my mum had cancer and it was a stressful time so I didn’t focus as much as I should have. However, I took a year out to volunteer and think about what I wanted to do and I think because of this volunteer work, I got a place at Liverpool. I started doing a split degree which meant I could choose at the end of my first year, which subjects to concentrate on. I worked in bars and hotels in between my studies to gain more experience in the workplace and to earn some money. After graduating and travelling, I got a job with a local charity and over the next 20 years, I moved from charity to charity working my way up the career ladder. About a year ago I decided to work for a nuclear project as it was something I’d never done before and I was interested in the Social Impact side.

If you could pick any person or organisation to get involved in working with young people, who would it be and why?
I don’t want to embarrass a colleague by naming him but we have a graduate apprentice who has overcome many barriers and worked his way up the ladder by just not giving up. He is a real inspiration and his message that just because it didn’t go right at first, you can still get where you wanted to be by working hard is fantastic.

What do you enjoy most about being an Enterprise Adviser?
I love getting involved in schools and seeing the passion teachers have about wanting to give their students the best experience they possibly can. By bringing volunteers to the schools, we can support young people to get started on their future carers.

What would you say to someone else about the value of working with young people or being an Enterprise Adviser?
It can be daunting at first as you might not know how it will work, but if you are honest and authentic in your dealings with young people, they get that and can really relate to you. The fact that a positive experience with a business person can set them on a career path that they never even knew about before is very powerful. You can help shape their future!

What would you say to any young person thinking about their future?
Firstly, think about what interests you and how you can find a career using that interest. Secondly, nothing is ever set in stone and if you decide to change your mind later on then you can! Finally, if you meet any barriers, look for a way around them – you usually can find one.

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 Cath 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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