“It requires drive to be truly innovative”

Over the last four to five years, there has been a lot of startup activity based in London. Jamie has a passion for startup technology, it was something that he really wanted to be a part of and thought that EY could contribute to and benefit from. That’s where the EY Startup Challenge came from.

Q. What makes someone entrepreneurial?

A. I think to be entrepreneurial a person needs a wide range of traits; personal, qualitative and quantitative. I think we all build a toolkit of skills and capabilities. I believe that the main reason why someone behaves entrepreneurially is down to an impact they want to have, the legacy they want to leave. It needs to be something that they feel so passionate about that they are willing to be genuinely innovative, despite the risks and challenges that this entails.

Q. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in large organisations?

A. If you want to be entrepreneurial in a large organisation then make sure you are able to understand and navigate the decision making process and structures. Ask yourself who the right person is to gain buy in from, when you need to do that and crucially, why. I would also say that an entrepreneurial trait a lot of people underestimate is the importance of finding the right people to work with. I think you need to surround yourself with people who are better than you in all the areas that you know you’re weak in and who believe in the idea or vision that you’re working towards. 

Q. What’s great about working at EY?

A. EY has a nurturing environment for people that want to be entrepreneurial. If you are capable enough and really want to achieve something and to make a difference, you will be given the support that you need. Even if this support isn’t financial, you will be given support to make a real go of it, as long as you have passion and EY believe in what you are trying to do.


About a year ago, I sat down with the Partner who leads the technology practice within our Advisory business team to talk about how EY could engage more with startups. I undertook research, conducted interviews and came up with a business case. That proposal has led to the EY Startup Challenge.

In life, you want to do a job that you’re good at, that you enjoy and that, ideally, pays well. Most people don’t get to have all three, so for me, the most important thing is to do something that you enjoy, which is rooted in making an impact in an area that you’re passionate about. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to shape that role within EY as I have always wanted to go down the direction of tech startups in some way.

The EY Startup Challenge is a six week acceleration programme designed to support the development of seven tech startups through mentoring and workshops. These startups all have a technology product that can address a business issue concerning data privacy. Together with some of our largest clients we are mentoring and coaching the startups to help nurture and grow technologies to better address this business issue. This is generating innovative solutions that our clients and the marketplace are interested in seeing, perhaps using, and certainly learning from.

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