Vincent Egunlae’s Open Private School
Vincent Egunlae is a Chartered Accountant, full time employee at Grant Thornton, whilst also being the co-founder of his charity the Open Private School. Passionate about equal opportunities, Vincent and his partner Caroline Maile founded this project back in October 2019. We asked Vincent a number of questions about his charity project, his motivation for joining the UK FinBiz2030 taskforce and how you can get involved to make a difference.
How and why did you get involved in FinBiz2030?
I got involved in FinBiz2030 via my time at One Young World. I got involved, because of the impact that One Young World had on me. Listening to and being surrounded by people who had an immutable passion for changing the world for the better, made me want to do more. At OYW, there were numerous opportunities to get involved, but FinBiz2030 was particularly appealing as it gave me the opportunity to lead on a project that would move the world positively towards achieving the SDG’s and it was one I wanted to grab with both hands.
Can you describe your work/ workstream/ project?
Our project is a charity called The Open Private School. We believe that disadvantage begins through a lack of finance but survives through a lack of exposure. Exposure to role models, exposure to networks, exposure to opportunity. Those who grow up to become people of influence are significantly more likely to be privately educated than those who were not, and this lack of exposure lies at the heart. Our name is derived from our conviction that the opportunity to become a person of influence should be open to everyone.
The OPS seeks to redress the imbalance, by giving disadvantaged students from state schools exposure to highly experienced professionals across finance, law and business. We curate one-to-one mentorship programs, connecting ambitious young adults who face congenital barriers, with experienced professionals at the top of their game. Our offering also includes:
- a ‘life mentor’ or ‘young professional’ in the mentee’s chosen field who can provide application support;
- the provision of webinars, workshops and other educational materials which provide insight into different industries;
- access to an ‘alumni’ network, connecting our students with everyone who has graduated through the programme; and
- learning and development training sessions relating to transition from school to university and from university into the job market.
Upon completion of the mentorship program, our mentees will have a strong professional and peer network, enhanced their soft skills and be equipped with knowledge of their chosen industry. We hope that this breeds the confidence needed to become people of influence.
What has been the impact of your work in SDG10 to date?
Since the charity’s conception in October 2019, we have matched 7 young adults with 7 highly experienced mentors across finance, law and business. We have provided the environment for a 6 month mentoring programme and also delivered workshops on ‘How to Pick a Career That’s Right for You’, ‘An Introduction to Investment’ and an ‘Interview Skills’ workshop.
Are there any obstacles that you have had to or will have to overcome?
Our biggest obstacle will be capacity. We want to help as many people as possible, but we have a limited amount of people and time. That being said, we will not allow this to stop us from achieving our goal of being able to offer a place to every state-school educated young adult in the UK. This is something we will have to overcome and we can do this by spreading our message and attracting like-minded individuals and corporates to our cause; to provide opportunities to those who need them.
How you see the work continuing in 2021, what are your aims for the future?
In 2021, we will be launching our second cohort, expanding from 7 young adults to 22. In the future, we hope to be able to expand the programme further and offer every state-school educated young adult a place on our programme.
What experience will you bring to your role leading a workstream in your Taskforce?
I have experience leading a network internally at my firm, which I hope will provide some skills in organisation, being able to listen and resolve. However, this is an entirely new role and there will surely be further experiences to be gained and trials to overcome. I am confident that we will be able to achieve our goals, because I am working with a marvellous team of strong, intelligent and purposeful individuals.
What role would you like to see current and future leaders take in driving forward change on the UN SDGs?
I would like to see current and future leaders think about what their passion is in the world. Nobody can do everything alone, but if everyone focuses on one core mission, providing opportunities for those who need them, then I really believe that impossible is nothing.
How can others take tangible actions and make a small difference?
It is important that individuals understand that any action, no matter how seemingly small, can truly make a massive difference to the right person. Taking the time to understand how you would like to be treated and then endeavouring to create the sort of environment where everyone can be treated equitably, will take people from wishing for difference to embodying it.
What would you like to say to the FinBiz2030 community?
Get involved! The FinBiz2030 workforce are doing some incredible work, but the reach of that work will ultimately be determined by the resources available. Please have a look at the different workstreams and if you identify with the cause of one, then reach out to the relevant individuals.
If you want to go quickly, go alone, but if we want to go far, then we have to go together.