Claire Young was born in Johannesburg and brought up in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, where she lives today. Made famous by her role as the highly driven runner up of series four of ‘The Apprentice’, Claire started out in roles at Colgate Palmolive, L’Oreal and Superdrug. She studied Equine Science at the University of Bristol University and remains a keen rider. Claire runs her own business, School Speakers and has co-founded Girls Out Loud. She also works within the media as a journalist / radio presenter in addition to working with the government on projects helping young people onto the career ladder and more women into business. In 2013 Claire gave birth to daughter, Eva.
“…I think if you are a genuine, authentic person your strengths will naturally shine through…”
Be your own unique selling point
People often comment to me that I have a strong personality and a clear business ‘brand’. Initially I found this slightly odd, as creating a unique selling point for myself was never intentional or pre-calculated – it just happened.
I think if you are a genuine, authentic person your strengths will naturally shine through and your profile evolves for others to see. If you have a talent and confidence in what you are doing people will gravitate towards you.
Relationships are like basic physics
My career has been built up of contacts and positive relationships. Somebody once referred to me as a spider as I had cast a web across a wide number of people. I took this as a compliment!
I like meeting people, am curious and interested in what they do. I think relationships are like basic physics. ‘What you put in is what you get out.’ Nurture and like the people who you are connected to; ultimately their opinion of you is your business reputation and that is very valuable!
I survived my experience on The Apprentice as I was true to myself and didn’t pretend to be something that I am not. The Apprentice was gruelling with little sleep, intense high pressure and cracks soon started to show in people who were not there for genuine reasons. I wanted the job working for Alan Sugar 100% and I was focussed on reaching my goal.
In life and business, I have a high sense of integrity and find it impossible to ‘fake’ my way through situations. I am an emotional person and if I’m not engaged in the topic, subject, project, conversation, then forget it – I never will be.
Listening to your instinct
In order to work at my best I need to be myself. I walked away from a potential career in banking as I felt that it was suffocating and my alarm bells said ‘no’. An important element of success is listening to your instinct and acting upon it.
Saying that, we all have different sides to our personality and I am conscious that work is work and home is home. Many people who see me on a weekend in my jodhpurs riding or playing with my daughter cannot put this and the image of the business woman they see on TV together.
Somebody once said to me early in my career, “Keep your own counsel,” and this is something I live by. I am in the public eye but I have a private life. I don’t share every detail of my life with everyone. The same can be applied to any work environment. Remember, you want your colleagues to know about your professional reputation only and the rest can remain a mystery!