From the age of about 14, I had my heart set on becoming a journalist. Despite studying a range of A-levels (English, Politics and Mathematics) which could have opened up quite a few doors, I never considered any alternative career options. I think my parents and teachers were pleased that I was so focused on what I wanted to go on and do, that no one ever suggested I think about other potential avenues. It was a foregone conclusion that I would go onto study English at University, and from there move to London to land my first journalist role.
Back in 1996, I don’t think I had even come across the word ‘entrepreneur’, let alone know anyone who had aspirations to become one. In all honesty, I don’t think I would have taken them seriously had they expressed a desire to become the next Sir Richard Branson. I went to a Grammar School where emphasis was very much on academic achievements, hard work, and taking a traditional route into a respected career. It wasn’t until I went to University that I met peers who had serious aspirations to set up and run their own business (and most of them were taking management or economics degrees!).
I have no regrets about going into journalism, and those years still hold very fond memories for me. In many ways, they were the making of me. I was lucky enough to encounter some extremely kind mentors along the way who took me under their wing, and who were big influences in my adult life. From them I learnt business and life skills which equipped me for the moment when I would decide to leave the ‘employed’ world, and take the gamble of setting-up my first business.
But things have changed a lot since I was at school, and students of secondary school age are now being encouraged to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career choice. One such organisation promoting this is Founders4Schools, a free service for teachers in secondary schools across the UK.
On Wednesday 17 July, I have been invited by Founders4School to speak at Avonbourne School, a girl’s secondary school within my home town of Bournemouth. I will be talking about what motivated me to set-up my first and subsequent businesses, and why I would recommend entrepreneurship as a leading career choice. As a Mum, I think it’s great that college age students are being exposed to the knowledge of business people at such an important decision-making time in their life.
For further information about the event, and to hear about the other speakers attending, please visit the Founders4Schools website.