Mon, 04 Apr 2022

At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, our commitment to supporting young people goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to innovation. And we passionately believe that, as an established business, we can learn just as much from the next generation of talent as we can teach them.

As part of our ongoing partnership with Digital Innovators, who specialise in giving young people access to fulfilling career opportunities across the West Midlands, last month we teamed up with the award-winning training provider to host a workshop for young people from Solihull College and University Centre.  

This very special event saw us invite 30 of the college’s Business and I.T. students to the iCentrum Innovation Birmingham campus in the heart of the city’s Knowledge Quarter, where they were tasked with taking on two business challenges presented by representatives from BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK.

Kicking off with a networking exercise where all students and industry professionals were handed a playing card, the young people were set the challenge of finding the person with their matching card. This acted as a brilliant ice-breaker activity, and built the students’ confidence to approach members of the BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK team, sparking conversations.

Digital Innovator founder, Mick Westman, then kicked off formal proceedings by giving the students some background on Digital Innovators, before handing over to members of the BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK team Tanya Gamble (Talent and Career Business Partner), Jason Wright (Transformation Director), Sarah Privett (Internal Communications and Digital Manager) and Simon Jones (Head of Customer Service).

The students were then set two problem statements to respond to throughout the course of the day. The first of these business challenges focused on how BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK might better facilitate hybrid working to drive colleague engagement, and the second centred around how we can successfully implement chat bots to streamline operations and improve our customer service offering. Both of these problem statements put to the students were real and relevant business challenges for us a company, demonstrating our genuine interest in the students’ valuable insights.

Breaking off into smaller groups, the students were then encouraged to create a user profile to help set the scene. Whilst working on their solutions, students also had the chance to speak to the event facilitators including Digital Innovators and representatives from BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK.

During the afternoon, students were tasked with presenting their ideas back to the BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK team in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch process.

Speaking about the students’ responses to the problem statements we set for them, Andrea Tittel, Director of Innovation at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, said: “As well as aligning with our mission to support young people, this event has undoubtedly also been really valuable for us as a business.

“Because these young people are digital natives, the way they see the world is unique, and they can therefore bring a fresh perspective to the challenges we face as a business.

“At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, we recognise the value of diversity of thought, so this has been a great opportunity for us to gain exposure to fresh ideas from our customers and employees of the future.”

Sharing his thoughts on the day, Mick Westman, Founder of Digital Innovators, adds: “Connecting students with employers in the region and building confidence in these young people is vital to their future success, and at Digital Innovators we strive to bring these two things together.

“Like Andrea, I believe that the ideas that young people can bring to the table can truly transform a business, and it’s been brilliant to see how receptive BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK has been to collaborating in this way.”

Kam Virdee, Head of Business and Professional services at Solihull College, adds: “Having BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK here is so great for the students, as it brings potential career paths to life for these young people and shows them what skills they need to develop in order to achieve their goals.”

But what did the students themselves feel they took away from the session? Solihull College student, Isa, said: "The Ideator session was a great opportunity for young adults to learn more about career pathways. The staff provided us with loads of information regarding potential apprenticeships and job opportunities working for BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, and have offered several of us an industry placement to continue working on a project that we began developing on the day of the visit.

“Overall, I believe that this is an excellent opportunity for young adults as it assists them with their career ambitions. I would definitely recommend this event to a young adult who is exploring career paths!”

Keep an eye on our blog to continue following our journey working with the students who attended our Ideator session or, to find out more about the work Digital Innovators are doing to support young people, visit: