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United COO teaches students a lesson in leadership

Michael Bolingbroke, Chief Operating Officer of Manchester United, visited New Charter Academy in Ashton-under-Lyne, to host a Q&A session with students and give a speech about business as part of the school’s partnership with the Foundation.

United COO teaches students a lesson in leadership

During the visit on Wednesday 20th March, Michael met GCSE and A-Level pupils who are studying leadership, business and enterprise and gave a speech about his role at Manchester United before hosting an exclusive Q&A session, during which students quizzed the COO about his career, getting started in business and the secrets to success.

He divulged, “When I was 17 I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I was good at maths so went to university and trained to be an accountant, but I wasn’t that inspired.  Then one night I went to an Elton John concert and just before Elton came on stage I remember watching energy travel through the audience and I realised at that point, ‘That’s what I want to do; I want to be involved in exciting people and doing things that create energy.’

“Today I love being in a job where the aim is to entertain people.  There are 80,000 people at Old Trafford on a match day; I’m glad that I play a part in them leaving with the feeling that they have had a good afternoon.”

Following the Q&A session Michael spent time with a group of students from a leadership course within the Academy to have a more in-depth discussion about leadership and to offer his career advice:

“Everything you do and want to do boils down to three things:  your ability, the effort you put in, and the luck you have.  Ability is something you are born with; you either have it or you don’t. You can train to make it better but it’s what you’re born with.  Luck: if you’re lucky, you’re lucky; if you’re not, you’re not.  But effort is all about you.  The more effort you put in, the better you will be.  You cannot really change your ability, you cannot really change your luck; but effort is down to you.”

Whilst at the Academy, Michael also took a tour of the new £42m building, which opened its doors in September 2011 under sponsorship from Tameside-based housing association New Charter Housing Trust.

Stephen Ball, New Charter Academy’s Principal said: “The partnership with the Manchester United Foundation is giving our students exciting opportunities to meet and work with some of the big names in sport.  Michael’s visit will inspire our young people to get involved in more projects and think about sport and leadership as a possible career.”

Claire Mulvenna, Foundation Community Development who is based at New Charter, added, “The visit has been a great chance for the students to see that the partnership with Manchester United Foundation is not just about football and to get an insight into behind the scenes at one of the biggest clubs in the world.”

Head boy, 16 year-old Jonny Mpoyi commented, “It was inspiring to hear some of the things Michael said today, because right now I don’t have a clue what I want to do when I’m older, so when you hear someone as successful as him saying he felt the same it does inspire you to know there is still time to achieve things in the future.”

The three-year partnership between New Charter Academy and the Manchester United Foundation is through the Hub of the Community programme.  Find out more here.