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New social enterprise initiative Coach F1RST is launched by Cambridge Executive MBA participants


A new social enterprise initiative, Coach F1RST, has been launched by Cambridge Judge Business School Executive MBA participants as part of the Team Consulting Project.

Gareth Lippiatt, Founder and Managing Director of sports development franchise Sports Extra; Mark Yaniw, Business Development Advisor at Nexen Petroleum UK; and Shyam Sadasivan, Licensing Manager at the Cambridge-based semiconductor firm ARM, developed the concept in the hope of addressing two different social ills: the large number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), in England, and the growing rates of childhood obesity and health problems caused by a lack of physical activity.

The concept is simple yet elegant. Young people classified as NEET are given a twelve-month paid work placement in a primary school. Their task is to act as a positive role model, inspiring children to be physically active and promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. While on placement they are equipped with the qualifications and skills to make an attractive candidate for future employment.

Gareth Lippiatt is passionate about this venture and he said:

We came up with this idea because it is a model I’ve used successfully in my own business. What I wanted to do was scale it up – to see if it could work on a far larger scale and impact more kids, more schools and more NEETs and young people.”

The three are now seeking sponsorship for the project. Lippiatt believes that the Executive MBA has broadened his horizons and provided him with the diverse skills needed to make a success of the project. He said:

The programme makes you step outside your comfort zone. You are always working with experts whether you are looking at corporate finance, accountancy for instance, you’ll have people in the room with far more knowledge than you do and you’ll be learning from them.

In the long term it gives you an incredible amount of confidence. Pretty much any environment you get placed in, you have the confidence that you can handle it in a way that will do you justice.

The Executive MBA has given me the language skills to articulate things that were instinctive to me as an entrepreneur but which I couldn’t explain properly to staff or people we were pitching to. Now I can put across those ideas in a much better way.”