Are you a fan of the Apprentice show on TV? Has the programme inspired you to go in to business or become an entrepreneur? Or have you just wondered what it would be like to be on the show and are thinking of applying to go on? Then you need to read this interview with UK Apprentice series 2 star Jo Cameron.
How did you first become interested in business and following a business related career path?
Running my own business was always something that I wanted to do. It was only when I parted company with MG Rover through redundancy after fifteen years that gave me the nudge I needed.
From day one you have been pioneering woman starting in your teens when you had your first apprenticeship in the engineering trade. Tell us a little about that experience and how it shaped you?
Shortly after I joined MG Rover I had to do a short placement in an engineering college. I enjoyed it and found that it suited my skills very well as I had done quite well in maths and science subjects at school. From a child I had always been very independent and determined and these skills served me well in a male dominated environment. I just seem to always be driven to succeed when the odds are stacked against me!
You have a Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management, how important do you think education and qualifications are in the business world and to make it as an entrepreneur?
I think that learning is the most important thing, this means taking on new challenges and tasks as often as you can. I do think that if people want to progress in the world of work they need to do everything they can to support that and qualifications are an essential part of that. Of course however many people do succeed without, it just depends on what your long term aims are.
What were you doing before you went on the Apprentice show and what made you decide to apply for it?
I was working as a trainer and consultant and it was my friend who put the idea into my head about the Apprentice. As soon as she suggested it I knew it was the right thing to do and went home immediately to apply. I always thought whatever happened that it would be an amazing experience and I was right.
What was the Apprentice experience like and do you think the programme portrayed you fairly?
What people saw on the apprentice was only part of me, part of the time. It is such an intense process that it exaggerates all your emotions so this is why everyone seems extreme. I can honestly say I laughed my head off at myself during the first episode as sometimes I am a bit nutty but generally in business I have to adopt more sombre characteristics occasionally (but not all the time as life is fun!!)
What did you learn and get out of doing the Apprentice?
I learned masses about myself and business. I learned how to sell, how to negotiate and how to put a TV ad together. I also learned there is no point in being right if you don’t take others with you. I learned that in business I need to defend myself better. What it made me realise is that there is room in the world for everyone you just have to find where that is.
What have you been up to since the Apprentice and what opportunities opened up to you after the programme?
I was in hospital for quite some time but since the beginning of this year I have been working very hard at building Urhired.co.uk. I also do quite a lot of radio and the occasional bit of TV which is great. I have also produced my first motivational CD, took on some property projects and stood in a local council election – so not a lot really!! Being in the Apprentice gives you a bigger network but that doesn’t mean everyone will want to engage with us as a client. Since The Apprentice I was asked to be a Prince’s Trust mentor and I am really enjoying that. It has allowed me to connect with people from all different areas of life which is brilliant. It means that I can strike up a conversation with a stranger which is incredible.
What would you tell anyone who wanted to apply to be on the Apprentice?
Go for it without hesitation and learn from whatever the outcome is. Never be worried about failure as there is no such thing!
You now run Urhired which is all about helping women in to great careers, can you tell us a little bit about it?
We work with organisations to improve the position of women either through training, recruitment or consultancy. I love it as every day it gives us a different challenge and therefore an opportunity to grow.
Not only are you an entrepreneur but you are also a life coach, how did that come about and how can we go about finding out more about that side of your work?
When I left MG Rover I went on a training course to become a life coach. It was honesty one of the best discoveries that I have ever made. In essence it teaches you that we can all achieve whatever we want in life. I still use the techniques on myself and they really do help you to achieve.
Finally what advice would you give to any young person out there that wants to be an entrepreneur or has a dream they want to fulfil?
Spot someone you aspire to be and replicate their approach. Learn from others, do your research, decide what you are going to be and throw your whole self into it. There is no room for half heartedness is you want to achieve anything in life.