Pupils at Sgoil Lionacleit, Benbecula spent today learning about entrepreneurship in Uist with five leading businessmen and women.
Sue Macdonald of Uist Community Riding School, Samantha Johnson of Cambridge Weight Plan and Outer Hebrides Soap Shack, Norman MacAskill of MacAskill Haulage, Angus Doyle of Voove and Roddy Mackay of Custom Prints shared their knowledge and experience with 44 pupils for S3, in an event co-ordinated by Include-us, the Comhairle young people’s enterprise organisation.
In teams, the pupils asked each entrepreneur questions about their businesses and career paths to try and identify any common facts about what it takes to set up and run your own business.
The entrepreneurs had also provide the organisers with little–known random facts about themselves. These were read out by Donald John Macleod of Include-Us, Stornway, and the pupils had to match the statement to the entrepreneur. Who was a nanny for a family in London and went round the world in their private jet? Who climbed the Great Wall of China? Who cooked for the singer Prince?
The pupils reverted to stereotype with one question: Who used to be an aircraft mechanic? They gravitated towards the men, and were amazed to find it was Samantha Johnson (pictured)
The pupils also watched inspirational videos including the story of Kelvin Doe of Sierra Leone who went from abject poverty to working in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Fraser Doherty of Superjam.
Afterwards, the feeling among the pupils about the day was positive.
Robert MacDonald, 13, said: “Talking to Angus Doyle gave me a better understanding of what I would like to do as a career, as I would like to work in computers and websites.”
Cailean Martindale, 13, said: “I found it interesting meeting the different businessmen and women and seeing how they built their businesses, it showed if you want to do your own business how you can do it.”
Natalia Stewart, 14, and Laura Mackay, 14 agreed that it was good to learn about the different businesses.
Natalia said: “It was interesting to see all the different things you have to think about.”
Lynne MacMillan of Include-us Uist said: “It was a really thought-provoking day, with the pupils quiet at first but later warming to the subject. It opened their eyes to the possibilities but also the challenges of running your own business. You might have a Plan A but you also need a Plan B, and you can’t let setbacks put you off, you need grit and determination.”
Pictured: the S3 pupils with (left to right) Sue MacDonald, Roddy Mackay, Lynne macMillan, Samantha Johnson, Ruth Macleod (Include-us) Angus Doyle, Norman MacAskill, Donald John Macleod.