English graduate named among top 40 UK entrepreneurs

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A Newcastle University graduate who set up a business to provide inspirational talks to school and college pupils has been named as one of the most promising young businesspeople in the country.

Rachel Johnson née Murray (BA English Language 2006) has been selected as one of the UK’s top 40 young entrepreneurs, after winning a ShellLiveWIRE competition.

Her business, Industry Insiders, was set up to deliver inspirational talks and workshops in schools and colleges to boost confidence, and raise aspirations and self-esteem. The company aims to bridge the gap between education and work and inspire young people to follow their dreams.

Twenty-seven year old Rachel, who was born in Durham, faced stiff competition from around the UK to win a monthly heat of the Shell LiveWIRE competition, including £1,000 funding, earlier this year. In the same competition, she was also shortlisted and then picked by public vote as one of the best young businesspeople in the country.

Rachel, works with eight experts to deliver the sessions and include a former Commissioning Editor of BBC Radio 1, a Sales and Marketing Specialist and a TV and Sports Commentator. The sessions aim to open young people's eyes to the different possibilities available to them when they leave school, including full time work, apprenticeships and further and higher education.

Rachel said: 'To enter the competition, I submitted my business idea and answered lots of questions on how I would be able to grow the model. After I was shortlisted, I had to produce a one minute video pitch and then it was up to the public to vote for their favourite and luckily I won!

'The idea came after I volunteered in schools and found there was a real need for people from the world of work to come into classrooms and inspire and get youngsters thinking about different career options they could pursue. The idea of expanding people’s minds and horizons and motivating them to do more with their lives really excited her and Industry Insiders was born.

'I can go into schools anywhere in the North East including Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and North and South Tyneside, as well as Durham.

'This is an absolutely fantastic achievement for me and makes all the hard work worthwhile. Being able to inspire and motivate young people to achieve their potential is a wonderful feeling and knowing that we’re making such a difference to the future talent of this country makes it all worthwhile.'

Graham Van’t Hoff, Chairman of Shell UK, said: 'Our Hot 40 2011 represents the very best of entrepreneurial talent in the UK. I wish all of our Hot 40 the best of luck with their businesses in the future.'

Newcastle University Careers Service provides support to budding entrepreneurs through its Rise Up facility which offers office space and business advice to students and recent graduates.

Head of the Careers Service, Nick Keeley, said: 'Rachel has gone on to do very well after leaving Newcastle. Her business is particularly impressive because it is a real social enterprise that could have tangible benefits for society as a whole. That is something we are keen to encourage at Newcastle University.'

The latest Government statistics show that Newcastle University is in fifth place in its peer group of UK universities for its employment rate.

published on: 10th January 2012

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