1) What has been the best part of your FreshSight experience?
Personally, my favourite part has been seeing all of our recommendations come together in a cohesive report and realising how much work we've all put in for the team, FreshSight and Hey Girls. I've enjoyed working alongside a really bright team of individuals who share the same ambition of making a tangible difference. Over the 9 weeks I've learned a lot from working so closely with the team and as a result I think I've learned a lot about myself. We've all worked extremely hard for the entirety of the project, each bringing different capabilities to the team. Collaborating on ideas and ways to carry out our project has been an incredibly insightful experience and one which I think will be of value throughout my career. Teamwork is an essential aspect to the FreshSight process and I think we smashed it!
2) What did you learn about period poverty and the work your client does?
This term, our team worked on a project for the Scottish Social Enterprise Hey Girls. Typically, Hey Girls sells period products using a buy-one-give-one business model, with the ultimate aim of eradicating period poverty. However, we discovered that when supplying to education institutions Hey Girls sell their products at half price. Hey Girls not only offer sustainable period products at an affordable price, they simultaneously lobby educational institutions and governments to offer free period products to those in need. Nothing has proven the success of Hey Girls more than Scotland's recent decision to become the first country in the world to provide free period products to all of its citizens.
When starting this project, I was aware that period poverty existed in the UK, however I soon discovered the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation, especially among young people and students. In 2017, Plan International found that period poverty affects 1 in 10 girls across the UK, and that period poverty has a severe impact on the educational attainment of women. Through our research, we found that for 36% of students in England, the Covid-19 Pandemic had affected their access to period products. Ultimately, Hey Girls has made a huge impact in Scotland and is progressively making its mark in England to eliminate Period poverty. Personally, I am extremely proud to have worked with such a fantastic and impactful organisation.
3) What have you gained from your experience as a FS consultant?
Professionally speaking, FreshSight has been invaluable in improving my knowledge of both social-enterprise and third-sector work. It’s taught me the skills to think critically and innovatively in a professional capacity, whilst also introducing me to the somewhat daunting realm of primary research. In terms of what I’ve gained personally, I’ve grown so confident with public speaking and presenting and have had the opportunity to make some incredible and talented friends from both my team and the larger FreshSight community. It is an all-rounder experience for anyone looking to gain professional experience in a safe and encouraging environment.
4) What was it like to present your research to a panel of business professionals at Think Tank?
Presenting our research to a panel of business professionals was an exciting opportunity for our team to get constructive feedback on the hard work we had done this semester. We were lucky to have business mentors who scrutinised our project from every angle helping us identify small mistakes which we would have likely never have noticed! One of the business professionals had previously worked on a project with Hey Girls’ resulting in tailored feedback which we found extremely useful. The Think Tank presentation was also a great opportunity for us to refine and improve our presentation skills. After giving so many presentations this semester everyone on the team has become excellent in public speaking. Overall, the Think Tank presentation was both an educational and useful constructive experience that greatly improved the quality of our final deliverable.
5) How have you handled doing consulting virtually?
All of our training, meetings, and presentations took place over Zoom this semester. This worked very well, because those organizing the calls ensured that we were punctual and prepared. Although it would have been beneficial to meet our team members and client in-person, it was more convenient and efficient for everyone to communicate virtually. This offered us all the opportunity to enhance our virtual communication skills, and to adapt to the ‘new normal’ in the world right now. The most valuable piece of advice I can offer to incoming consultants working virtually is to make sure you are not on mute when you want to speak!
6) Do you have any advice for future FreshSight consultants?
FreshSight is a LOT of work but don’t be intimidated because you are capable of doing it and you have a whole community of equally talented people to support you.
The best advice is to never hesitate to ask questions. Asking questions is honestly how you learn and how you get discussions going to develop your recommendations. It is also a great way to connect with people in the FreshSight community and learn from their perspective. Don’t ever be afraid of reaching the management team either, there is no hierarchy in FreshSight and I can confirm from personal experiences the management team are all lovable people who give the best advice (sometimes in the form of criticisms).
On that note, another advice is being open-minded towards feedback, you will receive loads of it from the management team and from your team members, some might even be a little harsh. However, you will never hear unnecessary criticism, all feedback once adopted will make your life and your deliverables better. (I learnt how to make great challah bread through FS!)
Final advice is to enjoy the experience. FreshSight is not just work it’s also a place where (organised) fun happens and where you can befriend so many interesting people. It may be a lot of work but it is FUN work, you get out of FreshSight what you put into it (as the training managers like to say).
Group Mentor Comments:
I'm most proud of my team for always coming together to solve the tough parts of the project. We've faced many challenges--a complex brief, having to promote multiple surveys, access to the right people etc. Without fail, everyone doubled down on the work whenever there was a bottleneck. The drive and ambition of all of the team members was apparent throughout, and I felt really proud to see the team work so seamlessly in a virtual environment.