As part of the tough but rewarding Young Professional’s Challenge, Sixth Form girls visited the Sheffield branch of HSBC to learn about employment in finance and work together to solve some of the tricky everyday problems the bank faces.

The Young Professional’s Challenge gives pupils the opportunity to take their first steps into the world of business, working directly with local companies that have a city-wide and even nation-wide impact with their work. Some of the companies the girls have collaborated with include property and construction company Henry Boot, accounting and advisory organisation Grant Thornton, and multinational law firm CMS.

The day began with an introduction to HSBC and how they strive to be an ethical business with strong values: their ethos includes being dependable, open to different ideas and cultures, and building a real connection with their customers, setting an example for the girls for some of the ways to run a business with integrity.

Pupils were then tasked with coming up with solutions to reduce waiting times for HSBC customers. They attacked the problem head on and spent the morning hard at work researching potential answers, examining competitors and brainstorming together, before an afternoon presentation to the managers of the branch.

All their efforts paid off as they produced a set of outside-the-box ideas that could easily be used to innovate and improve the company. A few of the many suggested were having information available on the HSBC website in different languages for the diverse Sheffield community that may not have English as their first language, developing an app to manage a queuing system for appointments, improving the waiting area to change the customer’s perception of waiting times, and even having a special area for bereaved customers dealing with a deceased loved one’s bank account.

HSBC managers commented that they were blown away by the standard of the presentations and confidence of the girls, and found their feedback to be really insightful. The suggestions were so impressive that HSBC are planning to work on implementing them for an overall improved customer experience.

Sue Wallace, Premier Centre Co-Ordinator at HSBC, commented, "It was wonderful to see the pupils and they looked like they enjoyed the day. They tackled the project with enthusiasm, maturity and interest. It was so interesting to hear their presentations and the issues they had seen, identified and observed."

Sixth Form pupil Becca said, “I loved how HSBC combined education and fun with a friendly environment.”

"It was a wonderful insight into the everyday challenges that businesses face," said pupil Emily. "The day was very enjoyable and we learnt lots of skills to take forward - such as how to present our ideas. It will also be nice to see our suggestions about how to improve queuing implemented."