Outreach & Education Project – Christ’s Hospital School, Entrepreneurs Lunch for sixth formers, Thursday 2nd March, 2017
Notwithstanding its historic City connections, Christ’s Hospital School has its eyes fixed firmly on the 21st century, and the Guild of Entrepreneurs was proud and delighted to be invited to participate in the first of the school’s new “careers lunches” launched by CH’s Head of Careers Helen-Claire Burt and Director of Development Hugo Middlemas.
The aim of the lunches is to give the sixth formers (or Grecians, as they are traditionally known at CH), an informal insight into different career opportunities before they finish final public examinations; have an opportunity to talk to real life people in business for many years, and help to make those all important decisions about life and career choices before they have to head off to university or business. Our first entrepreneurial lunch featured two fantastic speakers, Guild Freeman Rachel Wang co-Founder of Chocolate Films, and “Old Blue” Dominic Carolan, co-founder of Skyline Events Group.
The event was held in the school’s beautiful Court Room, complete with wood panelling, historic portraits and even a large log fire, most welcome despite the early March sunshine. After a brief welcome and introduction from Freemen Nicola Manning- herself an Old Blue- and David Mellor, the assembled throng headed back out into the sunshine to the quad, for Christ’s Hospital’s traditional whole-school march into luncheon, accompanied by the school’s accomplished, world famous pupil band – a spectacle well worth viewing if you ever get the chance.
Upon our return, Rachel Wang took the floor and gave us a fascinating insight into her early post student life and her decision to abandon a promising legal career in corporate finance to set up Chocolate Films with her now husband Mark, with no camera kit, no real technical or business experience between them and only £10 in their back pocket.
Persistence, self-belief, large leaps of faith and meeting the right people at the right time, led to Chocolate Films 15 years on, being a successful video production company with studios in Battersea, 16 full time members of staff, a client list including The Royal Family, Jeep, Tate and The National Gallery and Rachel winning the coveted Black British Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.
The pupils were thrilled to be shown some video snippets of Chocolate Films’ award-winning documentary webseries, 1000 Londoners which are mini documentaries involving authentic human stories and representing the diverse nature of life for residents of our great City from sewer cleaners to female beefeaters. They also heard how Chocolate Films runs as a social enterprise, working with about 2000 schoolchildren and young people every year.
Rachel imparted her thoughts on the lessons she has learned along the path of her successful career as an entrepreneur – be brave, believe in yourself, make the choice and make it work. Be nice to people – you never know which of your contacts is going to introduce you to someone who knows someone else who will make all the difference to your business getting off the ground. If you want someone to hire you, research them and their work beforehand and she left us with the words “the true value of running your own business is creating an environment that you want to work in”.
Dominic Carolan then took the floor and gave an equally fascinating account of his career post CH; from broke to entrepreneur and the anecdotal 10 life lessons he learned during the process; from selling parachute jumps door to door to running a global multi million pound events business.
1.Timing is never right – just get started!
- Never let lack of money get in the way of your progress.
- Allow the market to tell you what it wants and it will be waiting for you when you get it right.
- Never take your eye off the bottom line.
- Don’t be fooled by the “image” of success.
- If you are doing well, people will copy you.
- Competition is good because it forces you to think.
- Live your life your own way.
- There are no limits to what you can do!
- Be the best in your field – and inspired by fellow Old Blues who have achieved that success in a number of ways from the same starting point.
What was fascinating to the audience, was the similarity in Rachel and Dominic’s advice despite no collaboration beforehand. The pupils were excited and stimulated by the discussions and the Q&A session that followed, with one Grecian saying that he “felt enormously enthused and now can’t wait to get started with my own business”!
Court Assistant and O&E committee member Nicola Manning led on this project, ably assisted by Freeman David Mellor and we are extremely grateful to them and to Rachel for giving up their time and providing such an inspirational platform for the CH pupils. David will now be moving forward with the second Guild initiative with CH – a social event at the school in the early summer with Guild Freemen, Old Blues and Pupils, the latter of which will be tasked with networking exercises on the night – be sure to register your interest with the Clerk at an early stage as we anticipate a lot of Guild interest in this next event!