QUESTION My son wants to join my business straight from school. My wife and I would like him to go to college. What do you think is best for teenagers?
This is a topic on which I have a very definite view. Your son should go to college. While work experience is great, we all need to be challenged intellectually too, and it would be a pity if he missed out on that opportunity.
I recall several of our managers in Superquinn saying they regretted not having had the opportunity to complete third-level education. As a result we offered them the opportunity to complete retail MBAs in Stirling University, Scotland, over a three-year period.
The result was fantastic – as well as the academic know-how, many of the team really benefited from the interaction with their fellow students who were managers with retailers around Europe whose experience was quite different. Those peer group sessions were as important as the lessons they got from their tutors.
A number of my own children worked in Superquinn after they completed their studies, but only after they also first worked in another business.
In this way they became their own person away from family interference and brought a new dimension to the company.
And that's something else you might want to chat about with your son – it would be great if he could combine his academic skills with exciting new experiences from your business sector, perhaps in leading-edge companies in another country.
That way he would add huge value to your business and, in time, put his own stamp on it.