Andy Goff is passionate about supporting young people and is putting his decades of worldwide experience in teaching, technology in education and media training in schools to excellent use through his new business venture Career Cards.
Career Cards inspires pupils to consider careers with the support of Shropshire employers. Career Cards’ stations have 12 individual cards, each featuring an industry, role, photo and background of the person, with a scannable QR code to take the pupil to a video on the Career Cards’ website to find out more.
It has already proved to be very successful and to help with making new contacts and developing this exciting programme, Andy joined Shropshire Chamber of Commerce. We asked him to tell us more:
He said: “I joined the Chamber in July last year because I wanted to connect with other local businesses in Shropshire and it has had a positive effect. I have worked all over the world for the last 15 years, living in Shropshire during that time but not working here. I wasn’t sure what my next enterprise would be but knew it was going to be connecting businesses and schools - getting them to work together more closely.
“Originally it was about businesses creating resources for schools but that has now turned very much into the careers direction and where Career Cards is now. So everything I am doing has come from talking to Chamber members, finding out their problems and interfacing with schools.
A golden nugget
“I think the Chamber is a golden nugget, I have friends who are not involved and can be a little dismissive about it - people who have lived here all their lives and have family businesses in the county. I tell them that just making the effort of going to a breakfast meeting will enable them to have their ear much more to the ground in Shropshire and know what is going on.
“It is a delight to hear about, find and meet new people in business in the area and go wow! That’s happening right here in Shropshire. It connects really well with the work that I am doing with schools where I am talking to them about all these businesses right on their doorstep.
“The Chamber is like having another pair of hands. For example, Otis Powell has introduced me to someone in a business only this week saying ‘I think you two should have a chat, I think it would be of value’. And this is happening on a regular basis. It’s like someone has your back when you’re not looking!
“The Chamber is a great team, but talking about one particular person, I can’t compliment Gwynneth Slavin enough on how much value she adds to all of this, it is immense - she is an unsung hero in our region.
“Networking is very important to me and while I haven’t yet accessed any of the Chamber’s other services in this start-up phase, I will be looking to do so in the next year - I view this as an added bonus of being a Chamber member.
“I think the legal and HR services will be important to us as we take more investment in the first quarter of 2024 - having that legal resource that isn’t putting more drain on our finances as we step forward.”
Mr Goff said the Chamber was really valuable for start-up businesses in providing a good dependable network of trustworthy people to bounce ideas off, and said he would like to see the Chamber increase its involvement in innovation and entrepreneurship.
“This is at the core of what I do,” Mr Goff added. “I am passionate about young people coming through and would love to see the Our Future in Focus part of the Chamber really thrive. I would love to see the Chamber push really hard on the 21 to 30-year-olds, developing the talent we have in the county with the goal of that talent pool staying in Shropshire.
“I would recommend other people to join the Chamber for a number of reasons, be it networking, advice or understanding what is going on locally. If you live or work in Shropshire you should be part of the Chamber. It is a cost-effective, efficient way of getting to know a lot of people in the area and understand the social, economic system of what is going on.
“Having expertise available is really helpful when you are in your own hive of activity, doing what you do within your business, to have someone just nudge you and say have you thought about coming to this professional meeting? Have you seen this or that? It's great.
“It is a great eco-system for growth - and that is a phrase I use a lot in my own business. Going along to a Chamber networking meeting means being more connected with more people who know about you, share and promote you. It is cost-effective marketing, some of which will lead to business growth. It is all about making connections and that is the main focus of my business.”