University leads the way for Barrow safety firm’s diversification plans
Cumbrian-based SOA Safety is looking to broaden its business base and MD Andy Anderson is using the work he did on a pioneering new leadership development programme to lead the way.
Andy took part in the acclaimed LEAD (Leading Enterprise and Development) programme, which was delivered by the university at Lillyhall in West Cumbria.
The university’s Business School has been selected to deliver the LEAD course throughout the county as part of a £9.5 million plan by the Northwest Regional Development Agency to boost small businesses in the North West. The LEAD programme is delivered by 13 providers across the North West and the university is the only provider in Cumbria.
It aims to work with 125 owner-managers from across Cumbria over the next three years, taking them through a 10-month programme, which is hailed as a real
watershed by businesses that have already taken part.
Founded in 2001 SOA Safety, based in Bridge Approach, Barrow, offers health and safety and fire safety advice, engineering consultancy services and a range of training courses for business, industry and community.
Both Andy and SOA’s Technical Director Jim Lynch, have attended LEAD courses. Andy said: “The LEAD programme was great for me for a number of reasons. It allowed me to step back from a hectic day-to-day schedule, take a breath and look at the business.”
Professor Steve Kempster, Associate Dean (Business), was instrumental in developing the LEAD programme piloted by Lancaster University. He said: “The LEAD programme has already been thoroughly evaluated by Newcastle University and shown to be a great success with a clear
return on investment in the region of £10 return for every £1 invested.
“It gives owner-managers the opportunity to focus on the growth, profitability and success of their business and will be a great help to many SMEs throughout the Cumbrian economy.”
The Business School is working in association with support agencies in Cumbria to market the programme and recruit delegates. These include Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, West Cumbria Development Agency, Furness Enterprise and Business Link.
The projects have already helped small businesses across the North West increase sales by almost £11m and according to research have created nearly 300 new jobs.
Biodiversity and the BBC by Kate Rawles
It was really significant that Radio 4 devoted one of their flagship World Tonight programmes entirely to biodiversity. We are currently losing species about a thousand times faster than the normal rate yet the issue has received relatively little media attention compared to climate change. And it really matters. Losing biodiversity is not just about the tragic demise of the polar bear and other charismatic megafauna. It is, as UN and other reports have repeatedly shown, undermining our ability to meet our basic needs. Moreover, the vast array of other living things, from blue-tits to basking sharks, is not just a set of resources for us. Other species are as entitled to live out their lives on planet earth as we are. They have intrinsic as well as instrumental value.
The programme was recorded in the ‘bug house’ at London Zoo, so the other panellists - including Jonathon Porritt and Jonathan Baillie, the director of conservation at London Zoo, along with Ritula Shah from the BBC and an invited audience, all spoke to the background of crickets chirping. It was fascinating—and great fun—to see behind the
scenes of a programme like this; and the amount of editorial attention that was given to our two minute introductions was truly impressive.
I argued that if we are to tackle biodiversity loss we need shifts in our understanding as much as in our political and economic systems. We need to tackle our sense of disconnection from the natural world and to acknowledge our profound dependence on other forms of life. Despite all our technological brilliance, we are still earthbound creatures living in ecosystems and we need to reconnect with that basic reality. Outdoor education can definitely be part of the solution here. But the comment that attracted most attention by far was that a common answer to a public survey asking ‘what is biodiveristy?’ was…a form of washing powder. The BBC headlined that on their website, featuring a photo of me —and a packet of Daz.
Kate Rawles lectures in outdoor studies at the university and was approached by the BBC to take part in the Radio 4 programme because of her expertise in this area.
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