The key note speaker was John S MacKenzie from Sheperd and Wedderburn a leading commercial law firm, headquartered in Edinburgh, with offices in Glasgow. The firm delivers multi-jurisdictional legal advice across every business sector, as well as private client and wealth management services all over the world. Shepherd and Wedderburn is a founding member of the World Services Group, which enables the firm to respond to clients’ needs swiftly and effectively anywhere in the world. He highlighted how important languages were in his line of Business and helped him to understand the profile and culture of his clients.
The group went to their first workshop with Mark Pentleton, Director of Radiolingua. The Radio Lingua Network is a Scottish company headquartered in South Ayrshire that provides language-learning materials through podcasts, YouTube videos, the iBookstore and other Internet-based media. Radio Lingua provides courses in 29 different languages. Radio Lingua's podcasts have won several national and European awards. Mark spoke to students about the opportunities offered by continuing to study languages. Having spent all of his professional life working with languages, Mark shared his experiences with students and talked about the opportunities he has had through speaking various languages to a greater or less extent. A key message of the day was that "a little language goes a long way", but the best experiences come from not worrying about making mistakes and enjoying communicating in other languages.
The workshop ended with a lively multilingual quiz which was thoroughly enjoyed by the students.
During the break between the two workshops, students went round the Marketplace and met with various businesses (I.B.M, SCILT, Project Trust, Skills development Scotland) and asked questions such as:
Which languages are mostly used in your workplace? Is there any language(s) that you would recommend us learning? Would your job be harder without a language? Etc…
The second workshop was meant to be! It was hosted by Eric Balish, Trade Director for UK and Ireland of Bank ABC and EX- MARR pupil. He was delighted to have student from Marr College in his workshop. Eric talked about his career, having worked in the States and Asia. He explained that as his career progressed, he picked up Mandarin for professional reasons and learned about some Chinese culture and traditions which helped him in business negotiations.
Eric, as a former pupil of Marr College, was delighted to have his photo taken with Marr College students.
The day finished on a high note, with a plenary from Mark Pentleton, who got all the students speaking in Chinese. At the end of the event, the students had to answer : “Are you intending to continue language learning after the academic year?” and a strong majority said Yes.
This was an enjoyable and highly informative opportunity to speak to successful people who can partially or entirely attribute their success to use of language. The Business Brunch certainly makes it clear to learners that languages are an essential skills and are highly regarded by employers.