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Ian Stephenson was "bit by the bug".
It was never his intention when he started working at McDonald's as a wide-eyed 16-year-old just trying to get through his studies.
But 25 years later Ian now owns ten restaurants across Croydon.
He said: "I'm South London born and bred, so this is my patch. I have family in and around Croydon. I went to school in Lambeth."
When he finished studying after two years of part-time work at the company, Ian got the opportunity to work for a year abroad in Jamaica.
There he met Patricia Isaacs, a McDonald's grandee who brought the business to Jamaica, and it was she who set him on the path to owning his own restaurant.
"One of the things she said to me was 'Would you not want to own your own?'"
Ian said. "And she had done a very similar journey and after that it’s something I had aspirations to do. So when the opportunity unveiled itself I took it with two hands."
Ian never went to university and instead worked himself through the ranks on the business management side until he was Director of Franchises across the whole of South-East England.
But then the chance to buy two restaurants - one on the Purley Way in Waddon and the other in Thornton Heath - came up and he took it.
But why did he give up managing such a huge area to own just two restaurants?
"Being hands on and working in the restaurant is always something I’ve enjoyed," he said "Probably why I stayed with McDonald's.
"It wasn’t my intention as a 16-year-old to stay but I enjoyed that side of the business. I enjoyed serving customers but also serving and helping others around me.
Two restaurants became four, and then ten. But what is the secret to Ian's success?
He said: "It may sound blasé but you are a people business. You’re serving but you're also working with a lot of people.
"When it boils down, it's how you look after your people and how you develop them.
"Everyone working at the restaurants are at a different stage of their careers.
"If you want to progress in the business I’ve got to make sure there are programmes to do that. If you want flexibility while you’re studying, like I needed, I can do that too."
Ian estimated 70 per cent of his 1,000 employees are in some kind of education.
One of the cooks in the kitchen, Miles, is studying business management in Greenwich, another, Garfield, is studying bio-medicine.
Ian said: "From my employees I want to get what the business needs but also they need to get what they want and need.
"Generally, if you take that route, you won’t go too far wrong."
For Ian running a business isn't just about satisfying customers and looking after staff. They should also give back to the community.
"It is a responsibility of businesses to give back," he said "It could be something like football kits for the local team (they sponsor 6 teams) such as ‘All Stars’ but we also sponsor Legacy, a local youth centre."
When Ian was younger he went to youth centres so he knows how important they are.
He said: "I now operate a business in Croydon so I now have the ability to give back. If everybody does a little, we can make this a nicer place to grow up. I’ve got three kids growing up here, I've got cousins, nieces, nephews."
Last year was the worst year for retail in 25 years. Would there always be a place for McDonald's on the high street?
"I think there’ll always be a place for all business," Ian said. "The high street today is a different place to what it was 50 years ago and that very different from what it was like 50 years before that.
"The High Street is in the UK’s DNA. But you’ve got to adapt to the needs of people.
"Customers are going to determine what our High Streets will look like.
"And that’s true of all businesses, not just McDonald's."
Source : MyLondon - 10/1/20
A primary school in Stratford held an event to commemorate important figures and movements within black history.
Each year group at St Francis' Catholic Primary School focused on a particular theme for its Black History Month event on Friday, October 18.
Year 6 pupils kicked off the event with a drama and dance performance depicting the Windrush generation, while Year 4 focused on the US civil rights movement including figureheads Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks.
The children explained that their dance performance, which included excerpts of Mr King's "I have a dream" speech, paid homage to those who had fought for equality.
Headteacher Natasha Scott said the celebration was part of a curriculum redesign which is about securing a deep and broad understanding of issues.
She added: "It is about cultural capital and personal development."
This year the school dedicated four weeks to learning about black history compared to the usual two.
Staff were well prepared for the event. Speakers had been invited to talk to them about the importance of black history and how it helps all pupils, not just those with African heritage.
Year 5 pupils spent the half term working on the issue of apartheid in South Africa.
Their work culminated in a musical performance which included African drumming, songs, and raps about Nelson Mandela.
All of the pieces were created with the help and support of X7eaven, an east London performing arts studio.
It was St Francis' first Black History Month event with X7eaven, having previously worked with them for the school's international evening in the summer term.
Natasha said it was important that pupils work with the professionals.
Children in nursery, reception and years one to three had their own event on October 17. Year 2 performed a song about Barack Obama and pupils in Year 3 wrote poems about the first female black astronaut, Mae Jemison.
Natasha said: "The children have learned that black history is British history. These kinds of events are how we create tolerance."
Source: Newham Recorder, 22nd October 2019
BLAK WAVE, spearheaded by Michael Jenkins and Dr Mena Fombo, will be the first of Bristol’s 140 TV production companies to be black owned.
The company’s mission is to create content from a fresh perspective, giving a voice to those who are underrepresented on our screens and telling stories that reflect and resonate with today’s TV audiences.
Dr Mena Fombo is a highly regarded equality and diversity campaigner in Bristol. She is credited with founding Black Girl Convention and has a background in filmmaking including heading up the creative production agency Eight at Knowle West Media Centre. Co-founder Michael Jenkins is an established filmmaker whose recent documentary about St Pauls Carnival received wide acclaim. As well as making content for the BBC, he has numerous credits for Channel 4 and a range of digital platforms.
Blak Wave is being incubated by DrummerTV, the award-winning production company making entertainment and factual programming for Channel 4, BBC1, BBC3, Channel 5, CBBC and British Sign Language Broadcast Television.
Commenting on the launch, co-founder Michael Jenkins said: “I’ve been a filmmaker for the past seven years and more often than not, when I enter a commissioning room, I’m the only black person in it. Blak Wave is a huge opportunity to invest in developing new narratives and tell untold stories that reflect the population”.
Dr Mena Fombo said: “You’ve heard of a rogue wave, well now a Blak Wave is coming, and we’re inviting everyone to jump on board and ride it, this is going to be great for the industry, particularly in the South West.”
Bristol is synonymous with award winning TV output. However, diversity and a lack of representation continues to be an issue in this sector just as it is at a national level.
Tamsin Summers and Rachel Drummond Hay, directors of Drummer TV said: “When Drummer started we were one of only a handful of production companies owned by women and now Blak Wave is paving the way for BAME-led TV in our region. We’re thrilled to be supporting them. There’s a misconception that the underrepresented want to make niche programming and Mike and Mena will prove this wrong with ideas that are broad, big and bold”.
Source: Voice Newspaper, 26th October
All successful people have one quality in common, and that is resilience. Resilience is having the capacity that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failures overcome them they find a way to rise from their adversities.
I am presently in Jamaica and following the inspiring stories regarding Tyler Perry's accomplishments moving from adversity to triumph to build the biggest film studios situated in 330-acres. His journey against the odds has made him the first African American to own a major film production studio of this magnitude.
Perry had a rough childhood. He was physically and sexually abused growing up, got kicked out of high school, and tried to commit suicide twice — once as a preteen and again at 22. At 23 he moved to Atlanta and took up odd jobs as he started working on his stage career. He failed many times in his career but he never quit.
This news had me thinking about how challenging it must have been for him with all his failures but he never give up on his dreams. In one of his interviews Perry says, "When a seed is planted in the ground, all you can do is water it, you cannot control the sunshine, you cannot control the weather, all you can do is plant your seed in the ground, water it and believe."
The most difficult thing for anyone with a dream is making the decision to overcome obstacles, endure hardship and keep calm under the challenges life brings. Pursuing your dream and successfully achieving it will require commitment and persistence and true belief in yourself. You will sometimes feel like you are going crazy, and those around you might agree with you at times. But the key thing is to NEVER give up.
Tyler Perry has proven that with hard work and commitment you can achieve your dreams against the odds. Hope this helps you win. Keep on keeping on.