Student Takeover 3 min read

What it's like to be mentored by a FTSE 100 CEO

Samuel Okusaga

Samuel Okusaga posted on

I’ve always believed there’s no such thing as luck. There’s chance, but not luck. Everything stems from the work that you’re prepared to put in and the perspective you have on situations. Some people find opportunities, others see problems, or nothing at all. That’s what drew me to Pearson College London, they give you the opportunities to connect with industry and to learn from business leaders, so I chose to apply to study on the Business Management degree apprenticeship programme.

A chance to meet the CEO

When I joined Pearson Business School in September 2017, I had the vision of one day meeting the CEO of Pearson, John Fallon. I wasn't sure when that would happen or where, but I set myself that goal, as I was aware of how beneficial it would be to have someone like that in my network. Six months later, I am happy to say that John Fallon has become my business mentor. How many students in the UK can say that they’re being mentored by a FTSE 100 CEO? I’m really pleased to be able to say that I’m one of them.

It still feels very surreal.

As a new degree apprentice/employee at Pearson College London, my team and I (alongside 30+ other new employees) were invited to a ‘Breakfast meeting with John’ as part of our induction, where we were given the chance to meet John and ask him loads of questions. I still remember looking at my computer screen and feeling excited as I accepted the request. When the day came, I got out my best suit and made my way to the 10th floor in the Pearson office on the Strand in London. Once seated, John gave a very informative and inspiring talk about the history of Pearson and his journey to becoming CEO.

Asking John to be my mentor

After the talk, the group were given a chance to ask questions, most people asked great questions that were very specific to their department. In my mind, I knew this was a chance for me to get noticed. After a while of battling in my mind whether to raise my hand, I eventually did and asked John two questions in front of everyone:

Hi, my name is Samuel Okusaga, I’m 18 and a degree apprentice within Pearson College London. If you were given the chance to meet an 18 year old version of yourself, what would be the 3 top life tips you would tell yourself?’ I also asked ‘Have you ever mentored a young person and if so how did you find the experience? If not, would you be willing to become a mentor?

This was my chance to be recognised and to direct the conversation to where I wanted it to go, as I knew that if he was open to being a mentor it would be an amazing opportunity, knowing that I could learn a lot from his experience and expertise.

He said he had never mentored a Pearson College student before and said he would be happy for me to be the first. After the breakfast meeting, I was told that John Fallon’s assistant would be in touch and they would be able to help arrange the first meeting with John.

My first mentoring meeting with John

Due to John’s busy schedule, the first meeting took place on 13th February 2018. I was invited to the executive team offices on the 9th floor at Pearson’s HQ on the Strand. During the mentoring session, I was able to speak about myself including what I do at Pearson Business School and also my interests outside the company and it was a chance for me to express my goals and ambitions for the future. I asked John numerous questions including what challenges he faced during his career and how I could get to his position within 10 years; his answers were insightful and greatly appreciated.

At the end of the meeting, John introduced me to Tom Steiner (Head of Corporate Media, Pearson) who I will be proposing a research consultancy project to shortly with the business I started; I also arranged my next mentoring meeting with John, which will take place in June 2018.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants - Isaac Newton

I’m optimistic and look forward to seeing what the future brings

A mentor is really important to any young person who is motivated and wants to reach their full potential. I’ve found it to be really beneficial, for the following reasons:

  • It has inspired me - being able to learn from the experiences and advice of someone who has reached a senior position and has already achieved all of the things that I aspire to do is really inspirational and effective.
  • It has given me direction - a good mentor provides direction and can teach you vital lessons that you can’t gain in a classroom or learn from a textbook. A lot of the time, having a mentor is pivotal to how quickly you can reach certain goals, and can boost your success immensely.

I look forward to my next meeting with John, in June!

What it's like to be mentored by a FTSE 100 CEO
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