Ken & Diana Randall: Philanthropists
Ken and Diana: a fantastic team!
They not only mentor Young Enterprise students but they have also, very generously, become donors
Ken and Diana Randall have been involved in a lot of initiatives and businesses over the years, both separately and together. After Ken gave a talk to Young Enterprise students at the launch of the Company Programme in London, he was hooked!
They went to visit some of the Young Enterprise schools – and began not only to mentor and spread the word about Young Enterprise, but have also now very generously, become donors.
Q&A with Ken and Diana
What made you want to get involved with Young Enterprise?
Enterprise is vital to generate the wealth the world needs to grow and develop. The political environment seems to be so anti-business at moment that it helps to have some idea of where you want to go. It’s important to try to find some sort of mentor who can help when formulating ideas.
“…have some idea of where you want to go. It’s important to try to find some sort of mentor who can help when formulating ideas…”
What was the best advice you were given as a young person?
I don’t know about advice, but I came from a very working-class background and my father would encourage us to find ways to make a little extra money so the family could go on holiday and we could have little luxuries. Without a little bit more of an effort that wouldn’t be available, and that’s why enterprise is important.
“…my father would encourage us to find ways to make a little extra money so the family could go on holiday and we could have little luxuries…”
Why is enterprise education and investing in young people’s future important to you?
We need to get away from the nanny state and stop people’s dependency on the state. We need enterprise – the economy should be in the private sector not the public sector, and I feel passionate about that. I want to help encourage young people and I think Young Enterprise is great for that. It’s about what can I do to make a difference. It’s a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of teamwork and delegating work within the team. Designing tasks, arranging meetings and understanding why they need meetings – that’s all part of a fantastic team effort. Young Enterprise embeds those processes in young people’s minds from an early stage.
“I want to help encourage young people and I think Young Enterprise is great for that. [It’s]…a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of teamwork and delegating work within the team…”
How did you get started in business?
I got started by accident! My business career started when I was 10 – selling vegetables my father grew in the garden to the neighbours. I left school at 16 and went straight into work to become an articled clerk in a firm of accountants, studying night school to qualify as an accountant. Since the 1970s I’ve had various companies running insurance businesses for other people, and set up my own business in 1990.
“I got started by accident…left school at 16 and went straight into work”
What advice would you give a young person starting out in the working world now?
It’s so difficult for young people to get a job nowadays. They have to develop a sense of purpose and direction, but it’s all about instant gratification these days. When I was a trainee accountant I was often given piles of invoices to check against the cash book. It was a boring task but you had to remind yourself that it led to something; you’d get your qualification and be able to run your own business. You have to see those boring tasks in the context of how you want to plan your career.
“When I was a trainee… you had to remind yourself that it led to something; you’d get your qualification and be able to run your own business”
It is difficult to plan however as young people often have to take any job they can, but it certainly helps to have some idea of where you want to go. It’s important to find some sort of mentor who can help when formulating ideas.
What are the most important qualities you look for in new recruits?
We look for people who look alive and ask questions in a constructive way. It’s not about constantly challenging everything but we want people who take an interest and appear to want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing and where it fits in. Some employees – perhaps because of shyness or because they’re so pleased to have a job – think they should just get on with the job without asking questions. They may be very competent but you wonder if they have any interest in it. It’s not a pain when you get a lively individual asking questions like that – it’s actually quite invigorating when they’re taking an interest in the job and the business in which they work.
“…look alive and ask questions in a constructive way”
Young Enterprise is very grateful to Ken and Diana for the generous support they give our enterprise education programmes. Ken and Diana’s annual donations help us to empower 250,000 students each year and make a lasting impact on the employability of young people in the UK.
If you would like to join Ken and Diana, you can find out how to become the newest Key Supporter of Young Enterprise by contacting Donna Wells on 020 7078 0740 or email Donna.Wells@y-e.org.uk