4 Women on Entrepreneurship in Education
From school to university to landing a job in your chosen field, young adults often find themselves following the traditional path of life. But with stories of successful college dropouts of the likes of Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates, we are faced with the question of education vs entrepreneurship. With entrepreneurs making their mark, and apprenticeships being chosen over the university experience, what does the future of education look like? The choice doesn’t always have to be black and white – we spoke to 4 women who have merged their academic backgrounds with the world of entrepreneurship, and they share their experience and expertise with us.
Dr Marianna Prokopi Demetriades
I spend a lot of time convincing myself that I can do the jump, leave the academic environment and move into entrepreneurship.
A research scientist dedicates at least a decade of her/his life in-between university lab walls before having the chance to be exposed to real-life work experiences. As a student in the STEM field in the 2000s, business-educational modules in our field were non-existent and practical experience was very limited. Of course, things varied between Europe/UK’s more traditional educational systems versus the US-entrepreneurial mindset.
Personally, I spend a lot of time convincing myself that I can do the jump, leave the academic environment and move into entrepreneurship. I always wanted to offer my knowledge, technical skills and ideas to society and create real products that could change the quality of life for many patients. However, I was lucky to have met inspirational role models later during my PhD studies, such as the great Nobel Laureate Sir James Black. A true inspiration… Having said that, nowadays I see a huge promotion of the entrepreneurial way of thinking in earlier phases of the educational pathway. Either through universities or business accelerator programs. Networking and social media also work wonders, and early-stage career researchers are now more than ever aware of the huge possibilities that the entrepreneurial pathway may offer to them for the benefit of the society.
What you learn today will live with you for a lifetime.
An entrepreneurial take on education enabled me to focus on developing real-world skills, leading to exceptional living in a rapidly changing world. It teaches crucial life skills; the art of collaboration with teams, learning to prepare an effective presentation and pitch, and speaking in public.
Education decision-makers must move away from a one size fits all approach. Change is the biggest challenge teachers are facing in our education system today. Bureaucracy is having a negative impact on education. There needs to be a commitment to driving change forwards, enabling children to explore and develop individual talent in an environment suiting their needs. Schools should become more autonomous with less scrutiny.
Children who are taught the concept of entrepreneurship early on in life will learn to value hard work and achievements. By encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset, children will learn new and improved ways of learning, think creatively and be better problem solvers.
My advice to those pursuing an entrepreneurial path is to learn from successful business people. Join business networking groups, and invest in a mentor to keep you on track and who will hold you accountable. Focus on financial competence and learning skills for the real world. What you learn today will live with you for a lifetime.
Having a strong mindset and truly believing in yourself is crucial to the success of an entrepreneur.
I followed a very traditional educational route going from school to University, where I did Dentistry, that led to practicing dentistry as a dental surgeon for 31 years. My entrepreneurial journey started as a result of being able to take advantage of my skills and dental knowledge. However, having no business knowledge, I have had to educate myself in order to launch my entrepreneurial journey.
31 years on, the world is a very different place, and in my opinion, the education system needs to change to reflect that. Post-Covid, the world is a very different place, and there are so many more entrepreneurial opportunities for young people. I do think the education curriculum needs to reflect the changes in society with self-development and mindset being the first thing that should be introduced as a core subject. Alongside this, entrepreneurial mindset should also be a topic that young people should be introduced to in school.
For any young person who is considering going down the entrepreneurial route, I would highly recommend doing self-development work first. Having a strong mindset and truly believing in yourself is crucial to the success of an entrepreneur.
If I had known myself better before, I would have pursued this path sooner.
Formal education is necessary for us to live in this world. Here in France, a person who changes careers is looked down upon. The French don’t accept change and anything out of the ordinary easily. However, the environment where I lived influenced me much more than my education at school. My father is a musician, and my family are multicultural. Soon, I developed an ability to learn several languages and adapt to other countries.
I believe children should be exposed to different environments. Maybe, some games and books can stimulate children to undertake this new mindset. The most important thing to becoming an entrepreneur is to know yourself very well and what you know how to do best. I didn’t know myself until the age of 25. After having worked in the electronics field and hating it, I discovered well-being and human development. Today I am a wellness and life coach. If I had known myself better before, I would have pursued this path sooner.