A Kingston University student has carried off first prize in a national competition for Business and Management students. Gary Hopkins, who has just spent his sandwich year working for an international aircraft charter brokers, fought off stiff competition in the undergraduate section of the Association of Business Schools' Awards to walk away with the winner's certificate and a prize of Â£2000.
Gary clinched the top title after submitting a report outlining his experiences on an industry placement with Air Charter Service (ACS). His portfolio included glowing testimonials from the firm's managing director and the sales director of the Moscow office. Chief Executive of the Association of Business Schools Jonathan Slack, who chaired the judging panel, was full of praise for Gary's entry. "He had obviously made a great effort to make his submission stand out from the rest and we were particularly impressed by the overall presentation," he said. "Gary's enthusiasm for his work with ACS shone through very strongly."
During his time with ACS, the 21 year old from Eastbourne was responsible for organising global cargo transportations, from auto parts for car companies to equipment for pop groups. He even arranged for an ITN news team to fly to war-torn Afghanistan. Having no previous experience in the industry, Gary at first worried he wouldn't be up to the job. "The company had emphasised its sink or swim mentality, so the pressure was on because I knew I had no alternative but to swim."
Gary was initially based at the company's Belgium offices where he worked in the operations department and jetted to Malta, Mauritius, Budapest and Madrid to secure deals. "I learned very quickly how to make a cargo charter flight happen, to satisfy the needs of my customers and to make money for my employer," he said. "Chartering cargo aircraft is a niche industry with only approximately 250 brokers in Europe. Once inside the industry, people rarely leave it because they acquire such specialist knowledge."
Presently working part time for ACS while completing his Degree, Gary has been offered a full-time position with the company once he graduates. He believes his experience at ACS will stand him in good stead in the future. "It has given me the scope to consider jobs in civil aviation or sales-related fields such as stockbroking," Gary said. "The placement year is what attracted me to my Business Studies course at Kingston in the first place and could well prove to be the making of my career."
Bridge - The Kingston University magazine