Women Who: Claire Young on life after The Apprentice
With The Apprentice final around the corner, we couldn’t think of a more fitting inspirational woman to interview than Claire Young.
Dubbed motor mouth by Sir Alan Sugar, Claire is a straight talking, no-nonsense business woman who is well known for reaching the final of series 4 of BBC1’s The Apprentice (2008) watched by over 11 million viewers.
I left Bristol university with a science degree and having applied for 83 jobs, moved to London to start the graduate scheme for L’Oreal. Over the next seven years I grafted and climbed my way up the career ladder working in marketing (L’Oreal), sales & finance (Colgate Palmolive) and retail buying for AS Watson who are the owners of Superdrug in the UK.
It is well known that you turned down a job offer from Karen Brady, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I realised that if I didn’t make the jump to start my own business after The Apprentice I would never do it. Turning down the role was a huge decision though as Karen was on my application form as one of my role models when I applied for the show, so to have the opportunity to work for her was a dream come true. Plus I love Birmingham as a city and fancied a change from London.
What important lessons did you learn on The Apprentice?
So many! To listen more – after I received a huge shouting at from Lord Sugar for being a motor mouth and to slow down a little; trust few people – looking back I was naive at times. I learnt about a whole new industry - the media world. The Apprentice has opened the door to some great opportunities, can you tell us a bit more about what you have been up to over the past few years.Post Apprentice life has been somewhat of a whirlwind! I have started my own businesses including www.schoolspeakers.co.uk, launched the UK’s first start up scheme for under 18s called TeenBiz, work with the government on campaigns promoting enterprise, entrepreneurship and employability skills to young people, I have my own radio show, I do a lot of writing, some TV work and have lost 3.5 stone in weight! I’ve been busy!
Why did you decide not to go back into full time employment?
I applied for the show out of boredom and I suppose in a way couldn’t face going to work for someone else again. I wanted to be in control of my own time, my ideas and have full autonomy. The only solution was to start my own business and my own boss!
What prompted you to start School Speakers?
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.
You decided to launch Girls Out Loud as a CIC, what inspired you to venture into social enterprise?
Frustration of seeing constant issues with young girls in schools and there was very little available as a form of inspiration. Social entrepreneurs are the best, they make money and encourage change – the way forward!
I lived in London for 10 years and moved back to Yorkshire 2 years ago. I craved more space, less traffic, my horses and my family. Commuting is a pain but it’s a small price to pay for my home comforts.
Outside of your own ventures what else are you currently involved in?
I’m President of Young Chamber UK, involved in the entrepreneurial steering panel www.thegazellegroup.com and lots of government initiatives for helping SMEs and youth unemployment.
As a very busy mum-to-be what do you feel your biggest challenge will be as a working mum with a new baby?
Juggling a very busy diary and workload whilst looking after two horses and a newborn. Lack of time and sleep! I’ve already enlisted as much help as I can. I’m not even going to attempt to be superwoman.
You have tweeted your disdain at the negative perceptions of being a single mum, what can we do as a society to change this?
I’m not married and when I announced my pregnancy a couple of people suggested I should wear a ‘fake’ engagement ring. How ridiculous! Times are changing and society needs to do the same, become more open minded that happiness is different for everyone. There are now more single women in the UK than married and a family unit is no longer 2.4 children with Mr and Mrs. I would rather be real and happy versus conform and be miserable (like I know lots of people are)!
I’m often described as a busy career woman so when I announced my pregnancy in January 2012 most people were a combination of surprised, shocked, horrified or all three! I live life at a fast pace and expected to find a one-stop shop for practical mums to be offering a crash course on what was needed in pregnancy and baby preparation. I didn’t find it and decided to set up Dynamic Mum. I have been overwhelmed by the positive response Dynamic Mum has received. Women have gravitated towards it’s honest and fresh approach. It’s straight talking, honest and to the point!
As a busy and successful entrepreneur where do you find your work life balance, what do you do to relax?
I don’t use my phone after 9pm, never have it at the dinner table (my pet hate), I escape to see my horses and enjoy a bath before bed with lovely oils. I’m not a huge TV watcher and enjoy peace and quiet at home.
How do you define success?
Making sure I enjoy each day.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now and any plans for a book?
I’d like a property in Mallorca, where I lived in my teenage years, be instrumental behind a big change in education and more horses and babies. I’ve been approached to write a book but I think I’m too young and the best is yet to come.
You can find out more about Claire by visiting her website www.claireyoung.co.uk
Thank you for reading and your comments are welcome! Justice is an award winning Social Entrepreneur and the founder and Editor in Chief of City&Style Magazine.