Jenny Campbell, the latest investor to join the panel of hit show, Dragons’ Den, was back in the North West on 27 September as she returned to speak at her former school, Manchester High School for Girls.
The business entrepreneur had a frank message for the girls as she told of her rise from humble bank cashier to multimillionaire, “You have to make it happen for yourself.”
During her talk to pupils, parents and alumnae of Manchester High, Jenny revealed that, as a fan of the show since it started back in 2005, she had been absolutely determined to take her place on the Dragons’ Den panel when it became known across the industry that two seats would be up for grabs. She recalled: “I unashamedly called my PR agency and asked them to get on the phone and speak to some at the BBC as that was my seat!”
Born into a business-orientated family of bankers, builders and printers in Hyde, Jenny joined the banking fraternity straight from school at the age of 16. She spent the nineties climbing the ranks of the Royal Bank of Scotland before becoming Director of Operations for struggling cash machine business, Hanco, which had been acquired by RBS.
Jenny completely transformed the business and in 2010, she led a management buyout of Hanco with the financial support of high net-worth individuals. The business was renamed YourCash Europe and Jenny led an aggressive period of growth and market expansion. By 2013, she spearheaded a secondary buyout to become the majority shareholder and take full control of the business.
Last year, Jenny sold YourCash Europe for a reported £50 million.
She commented: “There was a point where, as a country, we went too far in pushing all our young people to university. I’m proof that it can work out just as well, if not better, if you do your own thing. Granted there was once a time in the corporate world where if you didn’t have a degree you’d be treated as a second class citizen, but the global recession changed all that and the tide has turned. Employers and investors, like myself, are looking for people with the right attitude and aptitude in spades. We can train and teach you the rest on the job.”
Jenny also spoke directly to the pupils in the audience who may have aspirations to leave Manchester and take advantage of the global market: “One of the best pieces of advice that anyone ever gave me was just before I went to work in London. It was my former boss at the bank who wasn’t sure how a feisty, northern, ‘tell it like it is’ girl would go down in the capital city. He said, ‘Jenny, just remember, you might not be as intellectual as they are, but you are no less intelligent.’ That has stayed with me and I would encourage each and every one of you to remain proud of your roots, wherever life may take you, be bold, be resilient and really use that northern grit that I know they instil in you at Manchester High.”
Well-known for remembering where she came from, Jenny works with charities that focus on her passion for supporting young people to be the best they can be. Her usual appearance fee for the talk was donated to Tomorrow’s People, a charity that empowers young people from tough backgrounds to realise their potential and get into work.
The Head Mistress of Manchester High School for Girls, Claire Hewitt, said: “As a school we are really proud of our links with our alumnae community. We are in touch with over 4,000 former pupils, working around the world and across the career spectrum and it’s fantastic that so many of them, like Jenny, choose to return to School to share their experiences and inspire our current pupils. It’s been really motivating listening to Jenny this evening and I know lots of Manchester High families have been tuning in to watch her on a Sunday night on Dragons’ Den. We love knowing she is one of ‘our’ girls and look forward to her returning to Manchester again soon.”
For more information on Manchester High School for Girls, visit www.manchesterhigh.co.uk