In the fourth of my Paths To Success blog series, I’ve been talking to Louise Scanlon who recently started her own business, helping other people make their businesses successful and bring their product ideas to life. Whilst formal education wasn’t the best fit, she described how she made it work for her.
For those of you who haven’t been following the blog series so far, this year I’ve been particularly interested in the paths that people take after education, especially following the increase across the UK in encouraging schools and colleges to embed employability into their lessons. The first time I tried this with students, I was met almost audible rolling of eyes – kids have genuine skills in detecting something that’s been “embedded”, much like a careers version of hiding vegetables in their spaghetti. They know.
So instead, with exam results fast approaching I decided to buck the trend of the many posts telling students that “results don’t matter” (they do, you worked hard), or “I didn’t need GCSEs” (no, but you had something else) and create a positive set of real careers stories to help motivate both my students and other teachers. I’ve been talking to an array of interesting people about how education shaped their own employability skills and their often irregular paths to success.
Louise Scanlon is an entrepreneur who owns the Product Academy which specialises in mentoring & teaching businesses how to successfully market their physical products.
Hi Louise, could you tell me a little bit about your experience at school.
I loved learning at Primary school but really struggled at Senior school. I found it restrictive, couldn’t really get on with the teachers, and didn’t really fit in with my class. But the subjects I enjoyed – IT and Psychology at GCSE and Business Studies and Economics at A Level have been the foundation of everything else.
I attempted uni but had similar problems to school and instead taught myself the things I needed to learn by reading, experimenting or attending short courses. I don’t think how you learn is as important as continuing to learn. Just find what way works for you and keep doing it.
I’m a massive fan of lifelong learning too. It’s good to hear that even though traditional education didn’t fit well you found your own way of learning. With it being the end of the school year, I have to ask: do you have a particular teacher that you remember?
I remember all my teachers and there are lots of lessons that I refer back to. My business studies and economics tutor has sadly passed on but some of those lessons definitely helped shape what I do today.
It’s interesting to hear that you went onto university even though you weren’t a fan of traditional education. Could you tell me a little bit about your experience at college / university?
I didn’t do my research and I didn’t have a clue what to expect or how to make the decision so overall, it wasn’t a great experience! Definitely research!!
However, despite that, I spent a year studying International Law at the University of Copenhagen. It blew my mind and I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be. I was having important conversations about whether the US invading Iraq was legal, with a tutor who happened to be advising the Danish govt on the invasion that afternoon.
University is a different world to college and if there is any part of you that wants to go, don’t let school be the reason you do or don’t go. Choose your next step based on what interests and excited you and find a way to learn it that fits with who you are.
That definitely sounds like the advice I’ve been giving. Is there any other advice you would want to give to students receiving exam results this year?
Take a deep breath, accept whatever they are is a snapshot in time. If you have done well, be proud of yourself. If you haven’t done as well as you hoped, it doesn’t define your future. Figure out what you want and go for it!
Thank you so much to Louise for giving up her time to tell us about her journey into an exciting career and how she uses her own experiences to help other people create success.
Louise can be found at www.theproductacademy.co.uk where you can find out more about marketing products as a business.