Steph took part in Young Enterprise’s Company Programme at the age of 15 while at school in Teesside.
Steph McGovern has interviewed everyone – from prime ministers to celebrities. She hosts prime-time television shows and is a familiar face on TV. But growing up in post-industrial Teesside, a tough area with high levels of unemployment, Steph never expected to become a television star.
“A lot of my school friends were from quite tough backgrounds so understanding how business works was really, really crucial.”
But Steph always had a knack for business and a curiosity about how to “make money’.
She attributes this skill to her parents, “so, my parents have taught me so much about understanding that money is something you work for, understanding that you shouldn’t be frivolous with it. You should only spend what you have. You should try not to get into debt. You should try and save before you buy something. And then that adds more value to it. And I had that, not laboured to me, but more by proxy I learned that, just from seeing how they were with money.”
Aged 15, she put this curiosity and knowledge into action through the Young Enterprise Company Programme. As managing director of a company that did everything “from car washing to making stationery”, her team made a profit and reached the finals of the regional competition.
“Young Enterprise was really fun for me and my schoolmates because it took us away from the traditional academic stuff and allowed us to learn how business works,” Steph explains. Young Enterprise taught Steph that with hard work, talent, grit and a bit of luck, anyone could rise to the top.
“You look at the most successful entrepreneurs and they’re not necessarily the people who’ve had a privileged life. They’re often the people who’ve had hardship and learnt how to fight their way through it – and those are the skills that Young Enterprise gives you.”
As well as life skills, taking part in Company Programme taught Steph the fundamentals of how to do business.
“It’s all those skills you don’t learn in academia – like teamwork, how to budget, how to work out profit margins, what dividends are – and equally, how to keep your team motivated, delegate and take criticism.”
In particular, the experience of pitching her ideas helped build Steph’s confidence– with long-lasting results. “Young Enterprise certainly was a key part of building my confidence with things like presenting– and obviously that’s my job now.”
After Young Enterprise, a job with Black & Decker followed. As a trainee engineer, Steph came up with an idea that saved the company ‘lots of money’ and won her the Young Engineer for Britain award. Recognising Steph as a rising star, Black & Decker gave her the funds to study for a degree at Imperial College and UCL. She went on to work for the BBC, first as a researcher then a producer and, finally, as a business reporter.
Steph’s rise to the top of the financial reporting landscape, was a full circle moment. Steph believes the skills she developed through Young Enterprise played an instrumental role in her successful career, “I loved learning about profit and loss, about marketing, about management, about sales, and understanding what things like ‘break even’ means. And that is very much stuff I’m really interested in. And it has obviously done me well in terms of I’ve made a career out of talking about money and am pretty careful with it as well. As a parent myself, I now realise the influence that parents, carers, family, teachers and those wider networks can have on your relationship with money from such a young age.”
Despite her hugely successful career, which now sees Steph as the star of her own flagship show on Channel 4 – ‘Steph’s Packed Lunch’ – she has never forgotten her roots and those that have helped her on her route to success.
Steph remains a dedicated supporter of Young Enterprise, having hosted events and visiting schools to help children learn about money and to recognise their potential.
“That’s the thing in life I get the most fulfilment from,” Steph says. “In particular, visiting deprived schools where they need that confidence and to realise that they actually have loads of skills – but they just don’t know it. I get way more out of that than anything else I do in my life.”