Claire Young: Climbing The Career Ladder From Corporate, to The Apprentice, to Entrepreneur & Media Whirlwind
Claire Young was a finalist in the hit TV show, The Apprentice, in 2008 and has since gone on start her own business which involves working on a variety of projects that are designed to motivate and empower young people in enterprise. She also works in the media and has her own BBC radio show (You Go Claire!)
What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
I didn’t really have huge career ambitions, I was too busy enjoying school and playing with my ponies! I think young people today are much more ‘grown up’ and aware of their future. I went to a primary convent school and was taught by nuns so at a very young age I use to walk around with my petticoat on my head pretending to be a nun! I soon grew out of that.
Tell me a little more about your career path?
I have a varied background! I left a very traditional all girl secondary school with straight A grades with the intentions of becoming a doctor. After a year of studying medicine I changed my degree to Equine Science. My big love in life is horses. However, in my final year the reality check of the horse industry sunk in – low pay and not many jobs – so I applied for 83 graduate schemes. I left university with 6 job offers and moved to London. Over the next 7 years I climbed the career ladder working for L’Oreal, Colgate Palmolive and AS Watson who own Superdrug. I applied for the tv show The Apprentice in 2008 and since then have started my own businesses and work in the media. I’m very busy!
What was the inspiration behind your business?
After appearing on The Apprentice I was contacted by a number of schools, colleges and universities to visit them to speak to their students. My workload snowballed and then I was approached to cover other subjects, so I set up an agency of people to do this – thus School Speakers was born! I do work on many other projects linking young people with enterprise. For example I’m a co-director on Girls Out Loud and started Teenbiz.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No day is ever the same! I’m an early riser and usually awake 5:30am – 6am. I read emails, social media and the paper on my ipad whilst having a cup of Yorkshire tea. I can be speaking in a school, or a keynote at an event, writing articles, appearing on radio (I have my own BBC show), working with the team in the office – or having business growth opportunity meetings. I have a very active life looking after 2 horses and Baby Young is arriving in June. I socialize in the evening, or flop out at home before being in bed for 10pm. Not very rock n roll, I know!
What's the best thing about being a business owner?
I like the autonomy and being in control, making my own decisions. I’m not reliant on anyone apart from myself! I like the day to day challenge of making things happen.
What’s your current biggest challenge?
Juggling a busy diary whilst being 8 months pregnant, I had to slow down a little and really prioritize my diary.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I’ve been brought up with a high work ethic and don’t ever expect anything for nothing. If I want something to happen it’s up to me to make it happen. I enjoy what I do for a living and believe passion is key!
What's the most important thing you've learned on your career journey?
Trust few and always go with your gut instinct.
What advice would you give to women who are fed up in their careers and want to make a change?
Seek advice, find a mentor, take small steps, have a back up plan but overall make sure you start making changes instead of sitting and moaning – that will get you no where!
Will you tell let us into some secret facts about you?
My favourite holiday destination is Mallorca. I lived there when I was 18,19 and 20 as a holiday rep! It is a wonderful island and only 2 hours away.
My nickname is ‘High Maintenance’ as I’m a fussy eater – no mushrooms, pork, shellfish – and I do always expect things to be done properly, particularly when you’re paying for a service – like a restaurant!
I’m at my happiest whilst with my horses, in my jophurs, pottering around with them.
In addition to being a social entrepreneur, Claire also writes for a variety of publications and has her own BBC radio show. You can find out more about Claire and the projects she is involved with by visiting her website.