Inspirational Woman: Claire Young | Entrepreneur and Apprentice Finalist

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1Tell us a bit about yourself, background and what you do currently

I am entrepreneur and many people will remember me reaching the final of the hit TV show BBC1 ‘The Apprentice’ 2008. I own a business called which works with students across the UK.  I am 35 years old, Mummy to Eva 16 months old and split my time between Yorkshire and London.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Being a working mother! Eva was born on June 20th and I went back to work on June 30th. Sadly there isn’t an entrepreneur fairy who you can call and to come and run your business to allow for maternity leave.

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

Seeing School Speakers grow from an idea in my head to a successful operation over the last 3 years. I saw a gap in the market to help teachers find motivational, and inspiring, speakers for their students. Finding external support can sometimes take teachers a huge amount of effort, time and money – School Speakers makes it easy for them.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

If I had not taken part in The Apprentice I wanted to go live in Hong Kong and work for the AS Watson group who I was a buyer for in the UK. On the other hand I have a science degree and my dissertation discovered something which received PhD funding. A secret part of me would like to return a lab and study full time.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

There is a combination of people who have shaped who I am today. My parents without a doubt have shown me that if you want anything hard work and persistence pays. They installed a high work ethic in us from a young age! I have a great passion for life and grab opportunities often thinking of my mother saying ‘What’s the worse that could happen?’.  I went to a fantastic school, Wakefield Girls’ High School, and our head teacher – Pat Langham  – was an incredible role model. She drilled it into us that we were the best, the brightest and to go out there and succeed. You have to be your No1 fan, if you don’t promote yourself no one else will. I compare my education to a good bra to an outfit, it gives you the support and foundation to build your platform upon.

What does the future hold for you?

I am really excited to be involved in education projects such as The Gazelle Group and I would like to leave a legacy of change to young people’s learning.

I like to make things happen!

How do we inspire more young women into the world of business?

We need to be communicating with girls at a younger age about life options and placing role models in schools. I am a big believer that if you can’t see it you will never be it. Young women need to understand that the business world is not restricted to men in suits and they have an equal opportunity to be there. Organisation runs a successful mentor scheme called Big Sister with phenomenal results.  I think it’s sad, and disappointing, that girls outperform their gender equals at a school age, university, 20s and then in their 30s we lose boardroom talent which life changes happen.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I love handbags!

I bought myself a black classic Chanel bag after The Apprentice, and anything to do with horses. I enjoy the races, riding ware and anything for my horse! I also have a sweet tooth and like pick n mix.

How do you unwind and switch off?

I ride 3 times a week and escape with no phone for peace and quiet. I read a lot and often at home switch all electronic devices off when Eva is asleep. As a self-confessed extrovert I do like silence.

I’m an early riser so ensure I’m in bed by 10pm as I need 6 hours of sleep a night to remain sane.

If you could be the brains behind any business what would it be?

Pharmaceuticals! I would like to be on the team to solve insomnia or Sweet Itch for horses – it is like eczema for the equine world and is a complete pain to treat.

Tell us something which people don’t know about you?

I originally studied medicine at university and intended to be Dr Young before changing my mind.

What is your favourite saying?

‘If you can make a woman laugh you can make her do anything’

Marilyn Monroe

I think humour is really important, it can often diffuse a number of situations!

Follow Claire on Twitter:   clairelyoung

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