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Business Student, Toby, Learns About Active Hands

Active Hands are keen to encourage the next generation of business leaders so this week we hosted  a business student, Toby Parker. He came into the office to find out what life is like at a small, family-run business like Active Hands. Here is how his week went…

Toby Parker
Toby puzzling over the stock take spreadsheet!

My name is Toby Parker, and I am studying Business, History, and Sociology at Woodrush Sixth Form. I am extremely interested in business and constantly keep updated with the goings on in the business world, from Elon Musk’s latest project to the new and quickly growing start-ups. So, when my Sixth Form announced that all students must complete a week of work experience at a location of their choosing, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I wanted to jump straight into the world of business.

However, my hopes of easily finding and joining a business were dashed as my first emails yielded either no reply, or a brief reply saying they weren’t interested. That was until I heard of Active Hands! I was told about Active Hands by my parents when I was discussing work experience with them and it piqued my interest immediately, I began researching the company and quickly learnt about their story and their products, it was then I decided that this was where I wanted to do my work experience.

That was, however, if they accepted me. After all, I was applying for a week’s work experience on relatively short notice, so I asked my parents to help put me in contact with Mel, and thankfully, they accepted me!

Toby with Active Hands staff doing work experience

I began work on Monday 8th of July and when I arrived Karen welcomed me at the door and took me through the office to meet the team. On my first day I met Mel and Jo, who also welcomed me warmly, and the three of them began to teach me the ins and outs of how the company functioned on a day-to-day basis, from collecting and cataloguing data from order forms, collecting orders and correctly packaging them for shipping, to how the business sources and markets its products.

One of the most interesting aspects of handling distributions was seeing just how many countries Active Hands ships to. In the short while I helped with them, I handled orders going to countries from America, to the EU, to Australia and even saw records of some being shipped to Asia!

On the Thursday, I was able to meet Rob and Clare and I was given the opportunity to ask any burning questions I had about the company, its history, finances, or any other topics I wanted. This was an amazing experience as it gave me great insight into how the company grew from a small start-up to the fully functioning and healthy business It is now!

Toby did work experience with the Active Hands team
Toby (right) had a chance to question Rob, Mel and Clare about running a small business

One thing I found interesting about Active Hands is how they differ from other companies I have studied at college. In business studies we have looked at mostly either monolithic corporations or aggressively growing start-ups. However, Active Hands is neither of these, they are a purposely small, yet effective, family owned business who have kept themselves small in order to maintain a close relationship with their customers and to maintain a constant standard of quality for their products – something that so many large companies struggle to do.

Overall, my time at Active Hands was incredibly enlightening and I learnt lots of things from the day-to-day processes that keep the business running like a well oiled machine, to the long term practices that have allowed Active Hands to grow to the size it is today. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it weren’t for the kind people at Active Hands, and I am unbelievable grateful for all the things I have had the opportunity to learn with them. So, to Rob, Mel, Karen, Clare and Jo, as well as everyone else associated with Active Hands, thank you for this incredible experience that I won’t soon forget.

Toby Parker