Great British Entrepreneur Awards - Scale Up Conference

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At yesterdays Great British Entrepreneur Awards Scale Up Conference there were many great contributors to the day but one who really stood out for me was Jenny Campbell, a dragon on BBC's Dragons Den. Jenny told her story and how her journey has brought her to the many viewers of one 

Jenny explained how she began her working life in a local shop at the age of 13. She very much liked the feeling of earning her own money so at 16 she decided to leave school to work in a local NatWest Branch. Once working she continued her education (that was one stipulation from her parents!) and began make a career for herself in NatWest.

An opportunity arose in Head Office in London and she decided to move her family (she had two young kids at the time) from Northern England to London. It was a bold, brave move, but as she saw it London was the place to be. Part of her role was to tell management how life was in the branch network so they could make improvements and adapt their retail business accordingly. Unfortunately management (mostly southern men) did not want to hear the real issues facing the branch network and they most certainly did not want to hear it from a northern woman!     

She was beginning to get disillusioned and question her decision to move her family to London when the RBS buyout of NatWest took place. In her words luck has a huge part to do with success. In the takeover most of the senior management team were removed and Jenny was given a project for three months to prove herself, which of course she did. She spoke about resilience and the 3 r's that have guided her through her business career Repair, Rebuild and Reinvent. She became integral to RBS in taking the NatWest business forward. Jenny worked in various roles but over time decided she wanted a new challenge in a new city. She felt her time in London had come to an end. An opportunity arose to run RBS’s newly acquired YourCash business so Jenny jumped at the chance.

Very quickly after starting her new role Jenny realised she had a lot of work to do in order to bring the business forward. After restructuring, outsourcing of warehousing facilities and general productivity assessment, she began to get the business back on track. Just when Jenny was beginning to feel like there was a future for the business RBS contacted her to let her know of their desire to sell YourCash. Something in her gut told her not to let the business go so between her and the rest of the management team they put a plan in place to buy the business and that’s what they did. Firstly they purchased with investors and then they completed a secondary buyout from the investors.

She brought the business forward and expanded it into new markets. Feeling as though she had brought it as far as she could, without massive infrastructural investment, she found American buyers for the business and completed the sale of YourCash.

Since she sold the business she has been working on various projects and when she saw there was an opening for a new Dragon on Dragons Den in 2017 she phoned her agent and told her that’s my seat!!

Jenny was a great speaker and so inspirational in the way she told it and The whole audience could connect with. Her journey into entrepreneurship is a very unusual one given that her big opportunity came from being part of such a large organisation. It shows that there are opportunities wherever you are. Given the focus of the conference was on scaling up it is important to note that acquisition is not a challenge to scaling up sometimes, given Jenny’s example above, it is the path to scale.

 

Comments 2

Aislinn Brennan on Thursday, 23 November 2017 11:26

She has such an amazing story. Such an interesting person.

She has such an amazing story. Such an interesting person.
Ron Immink on Friday, 24 November 2017 09:34

We should do an Irish Entrepreneur Awards Scale Up Conference

We should do an Irish Entrepreneur Awards Scale Up Conference ;)
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