BUSINESS leaders – including some former ex-students – dished out advice to 500 students at an expo at a Luton college.
They gave Luton Sixth Form College students insights into careers, and tips to inspire the next generation of businessmen and women.
The guest speakers at the Big Biz Expo event in Bradgers Hill Road, included former Luton Sixth Form College students Paul Monk, former chief executive of Golden Wonder and CEO of inVentaBrand Consulting and Hasan Nasiri, an executive director at UBS bank.
David Blakeman, a director at Luton Town Football Club, was joined by Michael Callum, sales and marketing director at Lionheart Security Management, John Freer, a director at logistics firm DHL and Paul Fletcher, director of Zebra Financial Solutions.
Mr Monk, whose career in the food and drink industry began on a Marks & Spencer training programme, told students one of the main keys to success was, simply, “hard work”.
He said: “One thing no-one can ever, ever stop you doing is working hard. That can set you apart.
“There’s plenty of opportunity for people who want to work hard – and that can start from today, it’s important what qualifications you get.”
Mr Monk pointed to Team GB’s medal-winning Olympians and Paralympians as what can be achieved if people worked hard to succeed.
“Yes they’ve got talent, but they all claim the reason they’ve won gold medals is the amount of effort they’ve put in,” he added.
Mr Fletcher, who worked in the Lloyd’s insurance market for 27 years before setting up Luton firm Zebra, talked to students about life in the City.
He said: “Some of the best people I’ve come across in my life have few qualifications, but they have an innate ability to make money, and they are driven.
“It does attract the best and it is survival of the fittest. You are playing in the Premier League – some people like that, some people hate that.”
Mr Freer, who is also chairman of the college’s Career Academy Local Advisory Board, told students not to ignore their personal life at the expense of their professional one.
He said: “You need to keep it in perspective with what you’re doing, and have a work-life balance.
“And have fun. The main thing is to have fun in the workplace – but use the opportunities. I certainly have.”
The Big Biz Expo was organised for those studying business, economics, accounting, retail and ICT at the college.
Business studies teacher Aabid Khan said: “The idea is the same as it has been in previous years, giving our new students exposure to real leaders from the business world, to inspire them and give them a real insight into their companies.”