The economics and business management pupils were able to participate in a question and answer session with Michael Skok (Old Marlburian) to hear about his experience as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
The group was enthralled to listen to his advice and experience on how to enter a new market, and the associated cultural, technology and economic constraints. Talking about his experience with an emerging technology of the time, CAD, which is used extensively today, he relaid how in a competitive market that businesses can fail and that failure can be an enormous opportunity to learn. He gave advice on hiring new employees, that attitude and aptitude may be more important than gilded qualifications and titles. Mr Skok constantly challenged the pupil audience, by throwing questions back to them, to make them think rather than giving answers – expertly emphasising and demonstrating the importance of listening to others.
The pupils were also keen to understand what makes a good idea viable as a new business opportunity. Mr Skok encouraged the pupils to explore the idea, deciding that the first step was to identify the problem that your product is solving, the bigger the problem the larger the opportunity. They then discussed the importance of being confident in your product as well as the ability of the entrepreneur to overcome business issues, not just technical issues, otherwise a brilliant product, badly managed can still fail. It’s also important to understand that taking a product successfully to market and then growing it, can take many years.
“The business and economics students were lucky enough to attend a talk from the Harvard professor and entrepreneur Michael Skok. We were very excited to talk to an experienced businessman and lecturer. We wanted to learn from someone with vast life and business experiences. We expected a formal presentation and talk but, we were surprised by the informality of the occasion. All the students sat in a relaxed setting around Michael and his wife. The informality led to some highly open and frank discussions. We asked about overcoming tough business situations, what employers look for in job applicants and how to succeed in business. Personally, I was interested in how I can effectively make the transition from school to university and then into work in a smooth and effective manner.
I felt that talking to someone with such charisma, life experience and positive attitude, provided us with zest and motivation in order to flourish. It was highly pertinent and timely given the increasing workload and pressure as we approach our examination. The guest speaker and his wife both radiated enthusiasm and drive for what they do. A general theme was that in your career, although you will experience hiccups along the way, your failures will not define you or your overall success. It was an inspirational and engaging talk and discussion. Walking out of The Marlburian, we felt invigorated, motivated to succeed and encouraged to chase our dreams. We all appreciated Michael’s time and took away information on business practices and on the soft skills required to succeed in the business world“
-Daria, Upper Sixth
Mr Davies (Head of Economics and Business Studies) commented that Michael was able to engage, challenge, enrich and inspire the students. For an hour students spoke frankly about their fears, challenges and business ideas. The forum was an excellent opportunity for the students to place their theoretical studies in a practical context. Michael was able to test the validity of the students’ ideas, knowledge and understanding.
Mr Davies is also eager for this to be the start of a series of talks for the Sixth Form. If you feel that you can contribute please contact him directly on [email protected]