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Monday 13 January 2014

Solent becomes the Dragons Den

Students on the BA (hons) Business Management degree were recently given the opportunity to interview the former BBC Dragons Den star and Southampton Solent honorary doctorate, Theo Paphitis.

To be eligible, the students entered a competition run by Southampton Solent Business School, in which they had to think of three questions that they would ask Theo. Students were then short-listed by Christina Dinsmore (Course Leader for Business Management) where they were then interviewed by the course team.

The winner (Liam Saunders) was chosen based on his passion for the opportunity and that he saw the value in expanding his business knowledge and experience.

Here’s what Liam had to say about his time with Theo Paphitis:

“The interview took place at the launch of Theo’s 21st Boux Avenue store in West Quay.

“I arrived at the store in advance of my scheduled interview slot of 9:30am with Christina Dinsmore Course Leader for Business Management), Chloe Leggatt, Ben Michaelis and Ryan Hicks. The atmosphere and buzz around the store was incredible, you could tell that a hive of activity had been building for hours prior to the launch.

“We were all invited into the store to prepare for the interview, this involved observing another student interview to gain an idea of the format and structure of my own interview.

“It was soon time for me to take the hot seat and meet Theo. Theo was incredibly welcoming and friendly; this helped me to ease my pre interview nerves and start asking my questions.

“The answers that Theo provided to my questions were really insightful, they included a series of what I would consider to be business tips which I will share with you all here (the following points are not direct quotes from Theo, they are short summaries of his full answers that I have compiled together):

  1. “Don’t bet the farm, in business you need to take risks but these should always be calculated ones”.
  2. “Do something that you are passionate about, don’t waste your time doing something just because you are on a particular course”.
  3. “Technology is an ever expanding area of business, if I was leaving university now I would look for opportunities in this area”.
  4. “Balancing business and family commitments is always tough, usually they combine themselves into a single thing”.

“To close the interview I thought that I would finish on a humorous note, by asking my question: What is the biggest risk that you have taken with your children’s inheritance? My question as I had expected it to be was well received. Theo’s answer to my question was that he takes risks everyday and that they are always calculated ones. He also mentioned that he was in fact today taking another risk by bidding on a classic car!

“Overall the interview was an incredible experience, it is something that I will never forget. The opportunity has given me a new perspective of business and a range of new business tips that I will use to help me on my entrepreneurial journey.”