QEII High School student receives Junior Achievement Alumni Leadership Award in Berlin

Sunday 23 August 2015

Rhian O’Leary

Queen Elizabeth High School’s Rhian O’Leary has become one of only 11 European students to receive an Alumni Leadership Award in this year’s JA-YE Europe Company of the Year competition held in Berlin in July.

The 17-year-old was a member of Elixir, the winning team in the 2015 Junior Achievement Isle of Man’s Company of the Year competition held in March, which went on to represent the island in Germany.

The award is presented to outstanding students who are judged on their leadership skills, role model behaviour, enthusiasm and team solidarity.  The award aims to highlight the value and visibility of the Junior Achievement alumni network and demonstrates the importance of sustaining a passion for entrepreneurship and staying in contact after the company programme comes to an end for them.

Junior Achievement chief executive Sue Cook said: ‘The European Company of the Year competition is an amazing opportunity for students from the Isle of Man to compete against teams from 37 different countries. The standard this year was outstanding and Rhian was initially in a short list of 40 students being considered for the award, so we’re delighted that she has been recognised as a potential leader and future entrepreneur.’

Rhian, who lives in Ballaugh, said: ‘The whole experience was amazing and made all those months of effort preparing for the Company of the Year competition really worthwhile. We had a brilliant time in Berlin but it was very hard work: we never stopped until about 11 every night. It was fantastic, though, to be able to share experiences with teams from so many other countries.

‘After the interview stage for the award I thought I’d be out of the running so when I was told I was one of the winners I thought it was a joke but then, when I realised it was for real, I was on cloud nine. I was Elixir’s finance director and Katie Watterson was team leader; she looked after the finer details of the company while I looked at the bigger picture.

‘Before I did the company programme I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do once I leave school but now I like the idea of being part of a big company and working my way up the ladder. Competing in Company of the Year meant I had to talk to people like store managers, which I’d never done before. It was daunting at first but now I know there’s nothing about “Big Business” to be scared of.’

JA Isle of Man is a member of Europe’s largest provider of education programmes for entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy, reaching 3.2 million students in 39 countries in 2014. It was founded in 2001 when Young Enterprise Europe and Junior Achievement International Europe merged. JA works with education and business communities as well as with governments to provide young people from primary school to university with experiences that build the skills and competences they will need to succeed in a global economy. JA’s activities have been endorsed as best practice by the European Commission.

If you would like to help inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs by becoming a volunteer business mentor contact Sue Cook on 666266 or email suecook@jaiom.im.