Elena’s Work Experience at Bang & Olufsen
Elena Richards, winner of the Bang & Olufsen Colchester Design Challenge (when she was in Year 9), is currently with B&O for her Year 10 work experience. She has written a blog about her time there which can be read below:
I am currently coming to the end of Year 10 at Colchester High school, and it seems like only yesterday when our school was approached by Bang and Olufsen of Colchester. At the time, I was in Year nine; my year group were told in assembly that our school and in particular my year, had been selected to take part in the Bang and Olufsen Design Challenge.
The competition was to design a new product, develop a marketing strategy for an existing product, or a solution for a problem with an existing product. Six finalists were chosen after the first stage of the Challenge (Nicholas Bottomley, Thomas Lucey, James Nightingale, Rebecca Harvey, Annabel Ashley and I) and the next stage was to go through an interview process, where the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place would be decided. It was quite a tough interview for teenagers to face and was conducted like a proper job interview – we were asked questions like ‘what had inspired us’ and ‘why did we feel our product deserved to win’. The overall winner would be flown over to the Bang and Olufsen Headquarters (also known as ‘Idea Land’) in Struer, Denmark, with their family to meet with the CEO and have a guided tour around the HQ, which was an amazing opportunity.
It was announced in a school assembly that Nicholas Bottomley and James Nightingale were the two runners up and, when my name was announced as the winner, I could not believe it. I was completely shocked that I had won as all the finalists had worked so hard and had such great ideas.
My family, Anderley Hampson (Marketing and Admissions Manager at Colchester High School), Robert Smith (owner of the Bang & Olufsen Colchester store), Ben Dalrymple (Regional Development Manager at Bang & Olufsen), Tracy Wilson, (Business Development Manager) and I, were all flown to Denmark for an overnight stay in Struer. It promised to be an interesting visit – we were going to tour the Headquarters and see where the products were individually designed, developed, marketed and manufactured and to meet some of the Bang and Olufsen family.
I was greeted by Mr Henning Bejer Beck who is the Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and a member of the Executive Management at Bang & Olufsen. He awarded me a beautiful engraved glass trophy and a certificate, which now have pride of place at home. After this, we began our tour of the futuristic HQ, known as “The Farm” (based on the fact that the company started its life on a local farm). We were shown an Aston Martin, BMW and an Audi which were all fitted with amazing Bang and Olufsen sound systems – we even got to drive around the HQ in these beautiful cars. We visited the Bang and Olufsen Museum where there was a huge selection of old and new products and the history of Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen and how the pair got started. The trip ended with tea and Danish cakes made especially for us. I also got to play the grand piano in the reception of HQ, which was one of my favourite parts of the whole experience.
We were treated like VIPs for the whole trip, including chauffeured limousines to and from the airport and the Union Jack being flown alongside the Danish flags when we arrived at the HQ (apparently this only happens when there are really special guests and this was a great honour!).
After my amazing trip to Struer, I was completely inspired by the whole experience and was very eager to learn more and have more involvement with the company. So when the opportunity of work experience at the Bang and Olufsen store in Colchester came about, I took it straight away.
Work Experience at Bang & Olufsen of Colchester
Day 1 of work experience, Monday 24th of June 2013
Today I was introduced to more amazing new products, travelled to a potential customer’s house to advise what television would suit her and her home best, and I have also started to write about my experience so far with Bang and Olufsen, and no doubt I will have more experiences in the future, whether it be designing a new product, marketing for a new product, running a store or even just having a Bang and Olufsen television in my home.
From going on a home visit, I learnt even more about how special Bang and Olufsen really is, they sell their products in a completely different way. They have relationships with the customers. I have learnt that ‘people buy from people’, and like the products the people are also very special. It’s all about what the customer wants. It’s a very different and special way of selling. The lady asked me about my experience with Bang and Olufsen, what I did, and what I had done when I went to Denmark. I told her about everything, from food to phones, how it takes 30 hours to put a small television together and how all of the staff wear white gloves when putting the products together so that they don’t leave fingerprints on the products. There should be a short film handed out to customers, played in stores and on the Bang and Olufsen website that shows some of the incredible work that goes into making these products, so that people understand just why they are so amazing.
I have been introduced to more incredible products and once again completely blown away by the quality of sound and picture produced by them, the fact that I have seen the amount of care, time and effort that has been put into making these products, makes the whole viewing/listening experience even more magical.
Work experience Day 2- Tuesday 25th of June 2013
Today I have learnt about Bang and Olufsen’s ‘nerve center’, how everything works and what differs Bang and Olufsen from other retailers. I learnt about the systems used for ordering products and also making sales.
I helped send out a ‘Promotional Mail Shot’ using a database which stores customer’s and even potential future costumer’s information. For example, what they have purchased and what they could be interested in purchasing. It is possible to select who this goes out to, by using the information that has been recorded and saved onto the system. I really enjoyed today because I learnt more about the systems and how to promote the company.
Work experience Day 3- Wednesday 26th of June 2013
Over the course of work experience, I have enjoyed working with Robert and Michael a lot; they have shown and taught me so much, not only about Bang and Olufsen but also about marketing, promoting and selling the products & what goes on behind the scenes. From my whole experience (so far) with Bang and Olufsen, I have been inspired to be creative with all of my work. Creativity is definitely a skill that I have learnt to use a lot here and I will certainly be using this skill to help me in the future. Ever since the beginning of this ‘journey’, I have acquired a big interest in marketing. I have learnt to understand the market that Bang and Olufsen are in and I have learnt how to use this understanding to think of different ways to promote the brand. I would really like to do something with that skill in the future. Maybe even for Bang and Olufsen.
I have most definitely been inspired to work really hard at school, college and university so that I can have a big home filled with lots of Bang and Olufsen!
Thank you to the staff at B & O who have given me the most amazing experience which I won’t ever forget, and most importantly thank you to Robert Smith and Michael Francis who have let me come to do work experience with them in the Colchester Store and who have also taught, inspired and looked after me since the beginning.
More information about Bang & Olufsen can be found here