As a female business owner in a male dominated industry, I feel deeply passionate about giving my time and sharing my expertise with bright young things. The desire to open their eyes to alternatives to employment (and encourage more young women to consider this path) is almost as much of a driver to me as winning new business. Far from having an idealistic motive of wanting to inspire others because I received a similar divine bolt of inspiration from some awe-inspiring mentor, it is precisely because I didn't that I feel compelled to fan the flames of entrepreneurship wherever I can. Since founding Salad 15 years ago I have benefited numerous times from the wisdom of others and wish that it had come years earlier whilst I was still at school or design college.
I was recently asked to take part in Bryanston School’s Business Conference, in fact - the day after the shock EU referendum. That day, more than ever, I felt determined not just to convey the possibilities to build within my own industry but also to give hope to those who want to take back their future. I didn't realise it at the time but I needed that exact purpose that day.
So I delivered two workshops on the power of branding to a group of year 11 pupils and sat on a Q&A panel with other entrepreneurs and business leaders from a variety of sectors. I found that the students didn't want to be spoon fed information, preferring to learn themselves and so they questioned everything. Hurrah! Not only that but I was struck by the professionalism of the whole day and the eloquence and confidence of these young adults. It was truly heart-warming to see such sparks of potential in so many.
Lost in my altruistic motivation and my desire to share expertise, opinion and experience, I forgot that I too gain from these encounters. Young people are great, obviously not all and definitely not all the time, but on a day when I was feeling less than optimistic about the future of our nation it was this group of young adults that gave me the lift I needed. In doing something for others you often discover you too are the student, so I never intend to stop giving my time lest I miss a valuable lesson!
Photo by Ash Mills photography.