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Michelle Dewberry Interview

Posted by Hunter on Thu, 01 Jan 1970.

Michelle Dewberry

Born in Hull, Michelle Dewberry started out working on the checkout for Kwik Save, but with hard work and determination, that was never going to stay the same, and sure enough Michelle rose through the ranks. At the age of 24, she set up her own successful business. Some people unfairly say that The Apprentice was the making of Michelle, but having met her at those first auditions I can honestly say that isn’t true. As soon as I met her, I knew she was going to win. Although a little shy, the self belief and “drive” was there, and as I looked round the room down the queue at the eager hopefuls, I remember thinking, “these guys don’t have a chance”.

Sure enough, winner, 2006, second series of The Apprentice, Michelle Dewberry.

Since then though, Michelle has gone on from working for Sir Alan, to continuing to develop her own business and releasing an autobiography. Amongst a hectic schedule, Michelle also took part in Bebo's Big Think - Take your Ideas to the Top, where six young people were given the chance to have their ideas heard by the people at the very top of Government, and also had a few moments for us here at The Jitty.

Could you tell us about your experience of “Take Your Ideas To The Top”?

Michelle: My role was to be one of the four judges, and we had to listen to the presentations from the young people and then make a decision on who we felt was the strongest, the idea with the most potential

How hard was it to make a decision?

Michelle: It was extremely tough! All the young people that we saw had very good ideas. There was one really good idea but it was already going great guns and didn’t need us or the kind of input on offer.

What outcomes do you think / hope will result from that event?

Michelle: What I’d like to see is that the momentum is maintained as there are some cracking ideas there, it would be really good to see the work go forward, and each of the young people have been assigned a minister to work with. So I’m looking forward to seeing something tangible at the end of it.

Do you think it’s harder in the current economic climate for young people to get their voice heard?

Michelle: No in some ways I think it can be easier in today’s climate, youth unemployment and associated issues, are such big items on the agenda, it’s such a current news topic. So rather then seeing the economy as a negative, people should be seeing it laterally. When people are showing an interest in a specific issue it’s easier for them to keep an eye on, to comment on, to have an input on, and to take action.

What do you think of the image of young people portrayed by mainstream media?

Unfortunately that’s a challenge, because here the more “news worthy items” tend to be the bad ones in general, and it’s demonstrated by the way media sells. Sadly it’s more likely that some one will read a story headline that reads “Youth beats up [someone]” as opposed to, “Youth saves puppy”. It’s the current appetite in our culture to, not necessarily enjoy reading the bad stories, but there is a demand for that sort of negative story in general. It is a sad aspect that that happens, I don’t agree with it, but we have no shortage of those types of articles. But there are loads of things that do recognise the good achievements of young people out there. I’ve been working on a youth enterprise programme and I know there are a lot of young entrepreneurial “heads” out there, and there are awards there for them. Whether mainstream media publishes them is another question though!

We have a number of young people who come up with ideas for potential businesses, but because they’re young they assume that it won’t work, or they’re not sure about how to take those first entrepreneurial first steps. What advice would you give to them?

I think you’ve just got to have the courage and self belief, and rather then saying it won’t work because of “x”, but you have to ask yourself the question “how could I make it work?” or “how can I do this?”. Also look at, really, what’s the worst thing that could happen. I’ll give you an example, when I went in for the Apprentice auditions, when I first walked in there, it was very intimidating, and back then I was quite shy, quite nervous, very overwhelmed by the whole thing, so much so I actually walked out. Now if it hadn’t been for my friends who convinced me to have gone back in, I wouldn’t have done it. I just wouldn’t have done it. I don’t believe that The Apprentice was the sole thing for changing my life, but it was a great experience. It really was quite daunting though!

I bet it was! Well, a huge thank you for your time, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Haha, thank you, and likewise!

We’d like to thank Michelle for her time, along with Josh Connell for making it happen. We also want to mention that Michelle Dewberry is an active supporter of various charities including the NSPCC, Prince's Trust, Make Your Mark, Children's Society and Women's Aid, and that the contribution that people like Michelle make to these charities is tremendous.