Blogs - 19 September 2023

Spotlight on our D2N2 Enterprise Advisers: meet Anna Smith, Enterprise Adviser, Da Vinci Academy, Derby

Enterprise Advisers help bridge the gap between the world of work and education, volunteering their time to help develop their school’s careers strategy and align careers provision in schools with local economic needs​.

Enterprise Advisers are business professionals from any industry, sector or professional background who are matched with a local school to boost awareness of local career opportunities and pathways, including apprenticeships and vocational routes, and increase career-related activity opportunities for young people in their school.

In our D2N2 Careers Hub, we have over 160 Enterprise Advisers, one of which is Anna Smith, owner of A Logical Ltd, who is matched with Da Vinci Academy in Derby.

In this blog, Anna talks about her experience as a D2N2 Enterprise Adviser.

Anna says:

“Since 2005, I’ve dedicated some of my time as a sole trader to volunteering in different development agencies, originally offering mentorship to young people looking for insight into the HR industry and running their own business. When my membership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development raised the prospect of the Enterprise Adviser scheme in 2017, I was excited to re-engage with the educational sector and give back to the local community. 

With a background in consultancy, I naturally apply a coaching mindset to my role as an Enterprise Adviser. Having extensive experience in offering an honest and fresh perspective requires a level of understanding from both parties, and I’m a firm believer that this trust should underpin all relationships between Enterprise Advisers and Careers Leaders. 

An award-winning placement 

In 2017, I joined the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Local Enterprise Partnership, and was partnered with Landau Forte College in Derby. I wanted to bring valuable external insight to the school and its designated Careers Leader, and they quickly embraced me as a ‘critical friend’. While I do have plenty of experience in delivering sessions directly to young people, we identified that my value lay in being able to engage with senior leadership teams on a strategic level. 

By focusing on policy, rather than content delivery, I was able to get involved with the formation of the school’s entire careers provision. This was primarily aimed at demonstrating the full range of post-16 pathways, developing employability skills, and increasing exposure to employers. 

As part of my role, I took the time to critically-assess the school’s website to make it more accessible to employers – as well as using my personal network to form work experience connections between the school and local businesses. It was for this work in building a well-rounded Careers Strategy at Landau Forte that I was lucky enough to be chosen as the Careers and Enterprise Company’s Enterprise Adviser of the Year. 

A fresh challenge 

In October 2021, I began a new Enterprise Adviser role with Da Vinci Academy, which I approached with flexibility and open-mindedness. This was essential when adapting to the school’s pre-existing education programme – a considerable change from being involved with its initial design. 

A combination of the methodology I used in my previous placement, along with the vast educational knowledge of the school’s Careers Leader, has allowed us to embed critical thinking skills into the curriculum. As in my previous voluntary roles, I’ve also delivered sessions to students during Work Experience week to encourage them to consider running their own business. As our productive partnership continues, our next aim is to reshape the current Careers Strategy so that it is equally appealing and useful to employers, educators and parents alike. 

The Enterprise Adviser Network 

The collaborative network I have access to as part of the Enterprise Adviser programme is the key reason I’ve maintained such enthusiasm for the role. In the D2N2 Enterprise Adviser network, we strive to meet on a termly basis to exchange ideas and best practice, and there’s frequent discussions between volunteers from different businesses on how to support each other’s endeavours in schools and colleges. 

Connecting with other volunteers and businesses through a local partnership hub draws upon a range of perspectives and resources, and it’s from this shared community that I believe the Enterprise Adviser scheme draws its true strength. Going forward, I’m convinced that the future holds plenty of exciting possibilities for delivering an even greater reach and collaborative impact.” 


Find about more about our Careers Hub and becoming an Enterprise Adviser

Find out more about becoming a Cornerstone Employer

For media enquiries, contact:

Nicola Swaney

Head of External Affairs, D2N2 LEP

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