How Wakefield’s ‘Rottweiler’ took on Lord Alan Sugar and lived to tell the tale

Claire Young of The Apprentice.Claire Young of The Apprentice.
Claire Young of The Apprentice.
Claire Young was brought up and educated in Wakefield. Now 35, she was dubbed a ‘Rottweiler’ by Lord Sugar in 2008 when she reached the final of series four of The Apprentice, which was watched by more than 11 million viewers.

She runs her own business, School Speakers and co-founded the social network Girls Out Loud. In addition she works with the government on projects helping young people onto the career ladder and encouraging more women into business.

Claire has been nominated for the Queen’s Enterprise Award and in 2015 was named Business Person of the Year at Wakefield District Business Awards. She is mum to Eva who was born in 2013.

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Known for her tenacity and straight-talking, she is passionate about promoting entrepreneurship and enterprise to young people and helping students to raise their aspirations and think big. She hopes her story will motivate others to realise that, with hard work, drive and determination, anything is possible.

Claire employs young people, from work experience and apprentices to office staff under 25 years old, and firmly believes that young people are crucial to the success of her business.

She said: “I am proud to be based in Wakefield and establishing a business in the city. Wakefield has great energy, is always evolving. The people of Wakefield are the backbone of the city, they drive to succeed and make things happen.

“I started my business School Speakers five years ago and the office is based in Horbury. We are the UK’s number one speaking agency working with schools, colleges and universities to provide talks, workshops and full day activities.

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“We work with thousands of schools across the country and also internationally. I’m a big believer that you can run a business from anywhere with the right idea, right technology and the right people!

“I think it’s important for younger generations to see that women are working and doing a great job at it too. Role models for our future pipeline of working talent are key to Wakefield’s business growth. There is a ‘can do’ attitude and, if you want to do something, it is there for the taking - regardless of gender.

“Stronger partnerships need to be developed between schools and businesses. Young people need to know what opportunities are available on their doorstep, the skills they need to succeed and employers need a dynamic workforce. Students need to be aware of local role models and that there is success in Wakefield. I’m a great believer in aspiration, show young people the reason to work hard and they will do! The old saying ‘Where there’s a will there is a way’ rings true - provide the right motivation and it will happen.”