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It’s Who You Know, Entrepreneurs Tell Bluecoats

Sixth form students from Christ’s Hospital in Horsham, West Sussex, had a unique introduction to the power of networking, thanks to members of the City of London’s Guild of Entrepreneurs.

Fifteen young people currently studying for A-Levels and the International Baccalaureate were brought face to face with the world of business during the first event of its kind held at the school.

It followed the announcement of a new partnership between Christ’s Hospital and the Guild to encourage an entrepreneurial mind-set among young people and expose them to the challenge and rewards of a life in business.

Facilitated by Freemen of the Guild David Mellor of David Mellor Mentoring, who lives in Horsham, and Nicola Manning, who leads the Guild’s work in schools, the event was designed to demonstrate one of the first rules of entrepreneurship: it’s as much who you know as what you know that determines success.

The real business of the evening – establishing connections and making introductions – followed informal presentations by fellow Guild members Rick Lowe, who set up leading licensed fashion supplier Brands In Ltd, and Joy Merriam, a solicitor/advocate, who was one of the few women to found and run a successful legal practice in the East End of London in the 1990s.

Christ’s Hospital ‘Old Blues’ who had struck out on their own also returned to inspire and encourage students thinking of following in their footsteps.

Nicola Manning, Founder Member and Court Assistant of the Guild of Entrepreneurs, and Lead Education Member of the Guild’s Outreach & Education Committee, said: “We are delighted with the success of this event, which introduced students to real-life entrepreneurs who could speak first hand about what they might do differently if they were starting out now.

“As an Old Blue myself, and understanding the historic role the City has played over many centuries of Christ’s Hospital’s existence, it is fitting that our Guild is now playing an active role in its pupils’ development.”

David Mellor, an author on entrepreneurship, who coaches and teaches business leaders, added: “Networking is a great life lesson and the students embraced it wholeheartedly. Being faced with a room full of go-getting mature entrepreneurs is fairly intimidating if you’re a teenager told to introduce yourself and gather as much information as possible about them. But the fact that we had to turn the lights off to get people to stop talking and go home proved just how good they were at it!”