Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Teaching at ILS
In a Class of their Own
ILS English, which has been helping foreign professional trainees and students improve their English for more than 20 years, has secured Brazilian and Mexican connections following expert advice from UK Trade & Investment.
Assistant Managing Director, Pam Dubois, described UKTI as keeping the school “ahead of the game” during its drive to enter the corporate market.
“The business really started to take off following the huge growth in the Chinese economy,” said Pam. “Achieving a high level of competence in English is proving more and more important for employment prospects, career progression and university entrance.”
Pam continues, “We were well known internationally in the academic market with a good reputation and a well established network of agents – that side of the business was growing nicely.
We needed to address the seasonality of the academic sector and make more use of our professional teaching team during the rest of the year. Using our expertise in business English we decided to enter the corporate market and deliver specialist training in growth sectors, such as oil and gas.”
Adapting to demand
ILS English already had clients from around the world. As demand for the International English Language Testing System grew – (IELTS is the global accreditation benchmark UK universities demand of their foreign students for undergraduate and post graduate courses) – ILS English recruited more teachers. A further step change came when the company achieved highly sought-after accreditation from the British Council. The doors to a wider international market had opened, but the school was aware it needed targeted commercial connections overseas.
ILS English was already on UKTI’s Gateway to Global Growth programme and in regular contact with International Trade Adviser, Thomas Schaal. “Our Gateway programme gives experienced exporters like ILS English the opportunity to work with us more strategically and benefit from tailored guidance and support,” says Thomas.
“We worked together to help overcome the access barriers in what are quite new and difficult markets.” Pam said, “Thomas sat for hours with us going through exactly what we do and what we wanted to achieve. He’s an excellent account manager and has always given us sound advice.”
As ILS English started to develop their international corporate business, Thomas recommended using UKTI’s Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) before they visited the British Council/UKTI Brazil Offshore Oil & Gas Trade Fair. Pam was sceptical about the benefits and decided to organise things herself.
“My first visit was a real eye opener,” says Pam. “Another exhibitor had a Local Trade Officer from the Embassy with him at the exhibition and had all his appointments made for him. He was always fully briefed for his meetings on how to present himself and what he should be saying. When he told me that UKTI had provided the service through an OMIS, I realised I’d definitely missed a trick.” When Pam subsequently went on UKTI visits to Mexico and then Brazil, she ensured she commissioned.
Thomas explains: “Using an OMIS allows companies to access the services of our trade teams based in Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates around the world. In the case of ILS
English, the teams were able to identify warmed-up leads in specified sectors, generate appointments and give full support to Pam during her visits.”
In Mexico, there was a briefing and reception at the Embassy. The UKTI team also arranged a series of appointments with training departments of companies and major universities.
Pam said: “The team from the Embassy was first class. They really knew their stuff and held my hand from the moment I arrived in Mexico City - even accompanying me to meetings. I made some really good contacts amongst the delegates and some have since become partners and customers.”
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Doing business in another country can be a challenge, so it’s good to know that UK Trade & Investment is there to help you succeed.
Through a range of unique services, including participation at selected trade fairs, overseas missions and providing bespoke market intelligence, UK Trade & Investment can help you crack foreign markets and quickly get to grips with regulations and business. .