Where are the University-educated entrepreneurs?

Branson at the Time 100 Gala, May 4, 2010

Sir Richard Branson at the Time 100 Gala, May 4, 2010 http://bit.ly/9cnlbb

I heard yet another item this morning on Radio 4 about the high-profile entrepreneurs who didn’t go to university. A 17 year-old who is running his own successful business talked about his friends who would be leaving university saddled with debt, while he would be earning money all of the time. The item quoted the likes of Sir Richard Branson (above), Lord Sugar, and Sir Philip Green as successful entrepreneurs who didn’t feel the need for academic qualifications.

This is a line which the media loves to push, and it strikes a chord in the popular psyche. Which leads me to think, “who are the successful University-educated entrepreneurs? And why don’t we hear about them?” I know a number of people, including the redoubtable Kelly Smith of Huddersfield University, who are working hard to instil a spirit of enterprise in university students, but still the media obsesses about those who avoided the academic route.

It is that university suppresses the entrepreneurial spirit, OR is it that the Bransons and Sugars are actually exceptions to the rule, and that’s why they get so much attention? The reporting of their cases would suggest otherwise, have we been duped?

What do public sector cuts mean for staff development and good practice sharing?

I had a conversation this morning with someone who runs conferences and events aimed at the public sector. This person is very worried about his business because it appears likely that the spending cuts looming will have a dramatic effect on the ability of public organisations to afford to send delegates to conferences and training events.

This led me to wonder if the “unconference” will now come into its own as a mechanism for staff development and best practice sharing among public organisations.
Social Media Unconference, Sheffield 10th February 2010

During the past couple of years, I have been part of a number of really good “unconference”-type events, the most recent being the Social Media in Education Podcamp, held at Doncaster College on June 30th, Self-organised, semi-unstructured events are becoming increasingly popular as vehicles for getting people together, and, in the public sector, there is a growing movement of “GovCamps” and “localgovcamps”.

Basically, unconferences, are self-curated events at which the participants set the agenda at the beginning of the day, and people volunteer to run sessions on their specialist subjects. They might be called unconferences, but could also be called:

  • barcamps; or
  • open spaces
  • To date, they have mainly been organised by enthusiastic individuals, particularly around technology or social media-focused agendas.

    Perhaps it is time for the unconference to move out of the shadows and into the mainstream as a major force in public sector staff development and the sharing of good practice.

    Social Media in Education – on BBC Radio Sheffield

    On the 30th June and 1st July, a fantastic couple of linked events were held on Social Media in Education at Doncaster College. Organised by Rob Wilmot, who is Chair of Governors of the College, among his many other roles, and featuring the renowned Chris Brogan, who flew in from Boston, Massachusetts, especially for the event, the Social Media Podcamp, was followed by a seminar delivered by Chris the following day.

    Ahead of the event, I appeared on Radio Sheffield to talk about some of the issues it raised. My appearance at 7:20am, was followed an hour later by Rob Wilmot and Chris Brogan who amplified the themes further. Both segments of the programme are presented here;