Business bosses give South Tyneside students secrets of success

Michael Owen, right, with South Tyneside College governor Peter Davidson, and Alex Richards, assistant principal student services recruitment and support at South Tyneside College.
Michael Owen, right, with South Tyneside College governor Peter Davidson, and Alex Richards, assistant principal student services recruitment and support at South Tyneside College.
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Three entrepreneurs have revealed the secrets of their success to students in South Tyneside.

Neil Stephenson, Caroline Ormston and Michael Owen, passed on their wisdom as part of South Tyneside College’s inaugural Be Inspired Week.

The five-day programme, supported by business development agency TEDCO and South Tyneside Council, aimed to motivate youngsters seeking the entrepreneurial path.

Former South Tyneside College student Neil, 45, grew data hosting company Onyx’s annual turnover from £1m to £30m in 15 years, before selling it for £65m last year.

Caroline, 43, has enjoyed instant success after opening Hebburn-based Feminine Grace Beauty School and Parlour last year.

Michael, 48, is founder and managing director of Newcastle unique luxury fashion brand Always Wear Red.

A key message to students during the informal one-hour talks was “Seize the day, and don’t be afraid to fail.”

Of his business philosophy, Neil said: “Everybody has the chance to do something with their lives. They just have to roll their sleeves up. It’s important that the students know that there’s nothing wrong with a failure along the way. It gets you closer to success.”

Caroline added: “Success doesn’t come easily in life, and I told the students that no-one gets a free ride into business.

Michael said: “The reason most people don’t achieve what they can achieve is because they can’t be bothered.

“If you are a young person, or in fact whatever age, just do it and stop making excuses. You may not always succeed, but you must try.”

Be Inspired Week forms part of the college’s Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund initiative, launched last year to support and inspire students in learning and life.

It is named after Dr Thomas Masterman Winterbottom, the founder of the 19th Century marine and technical school on which South Tyneside College was founded.

The fund supports students in a range of activities, including those whose exceptional entrepreneurial ideas require small financial backing.

Les Watson, who helped establish the fund, said: “Each of our guest speakers is from a different business background, but it’s clear they share the same ambition and drive.

“Their messages to students were wide-ranging, but they all agreed that making the effort and giving your ideas and dreams a go was fundamentally important.

“The college is very grateful to Neil, Caroline and Michael for taking the time to speak to our students. I’m hopeful their words of wisdom will inspire some to follow careers in business.”

Anyone who would like to support the Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund should contact dwcf@stc.ac.uk or call 0191 427 3717.