Thursday, 20 August 2015

She failed her A levels and got fired from her first job - now she's the boss of a £10million company

Laura Ward-Ongley She failed her A levels and got fired from her first job - now she's the boss of a £10million company

32-year-old woman has told of how she went from being fired from her first job for partying too hard – to being CEO of a £10 million company.
Laura Ward-Ongley, who admitted she “flunked” her A-Levels, dropped out of a top London university to take on a role as a receptionist at a private equity firm.
“I’d come from the countryside up to the Big Smoke and I was just wowed by the bright lights of the big city,” she said.“I didn’t feel stimulated at university. I couldn’t wait to get out there and start working.”
After two months of rejection and unsuccessful applications, Laura, of Wiltshire, was offered a job as a receptionist.
With her offices in the heart of London’s West End, she had a playground of exclusive clubs and bars on her doorstep.
Slowly, she got more and more pulled into the party lifestyle – so much so, that it began to affect her work.
One club she frequented was Chinawhite, famed for its celebrity clientele, which includes Prince Harry and scores of Premier League footballers.
“The first time we went was by complete chance,” she said. “We’d only meant to go for some quiet drinks after work, but we bumped into a promoter who offered to put us on the guestlist.“I’d never seen anything like it. There was bottle service, champagne, dancing on tables, celebrities everywhere – all I could think was: ‘my god, this world actually exists?’“I started going more and more to the point where I’d be going to work with no sleep.“There was nothing seedy going on. It wasn’t sex, drugs and rock and roll or anything like that – just champagne and dancing.“At work, I had to greet a lot of VIP clients so it was important I look polished and professional. But there’s only so welcoming you can be with a stinking hangover wearing last night’s clothes.”
PA Real LifeLaura Ward-Ongley
Laura on her 20th birthday
Though she was given a string of warnings about her behaviour, Laura admitted she never took them seriously.
“I was only 20 and, looking back, quite naive. I convinced myself everything would be fine,” she said.
Then, two years after she was first employed, company bosses asked her to leave.
“I got hauled into my bosses’ office where they said they were letting me go. I was mortified – everything just stopped,” she said.“The bus home felt like the longest journey of my life. I didn’t tell anyone. I was too ashamed. I had no idea what to do next or how I was going to pay my rent.“I cried myself to sleep, waking up the next morning and hoping it had been a dream.“But then I realised I’d gotten myself into this – it was up to me to get myself out. I started thinking about what would inspire me.”
PA Real LifeLaura Ward-Ongley
Laura in Dubai
Laura, who had long-dreamed of working in advertising, got in touch with a top agency.
She was offered an interview for an assistant role at the company, working for a car account – but did not know anything about cars.
“I told them I was a real petrol head when actually, I’d never even sat behind the wheel of a car,” she admitted. “It was risky, but I couldn’t see another way in and I was really excited at the chance to work for that company.“I had 18 hours to prepare, but this was in the days before Google, so I went to Blockbusters and rented every VHS of Top Gear they had, watching them over and over until I was confident I knew the lingo.“I assumed my interviewers were just going to laugh in my face, but I had nothing to lose.“I’m sure they could tell I was blagging, but after several rounds of interviews, I was offered the job. That was my turning point.”Over the next seven years, Laura threw herself into work.“I was pulling all-nighters at the office instead of the nightclub,” she said.After working her way up the corporate ladder, she was offered a coveted role as a member of an advertising agency board in 2013 – just before her 30th birthday.However, after much soul-searching, she realised she wanted to work for herself, and so made the bold choice to leave the company.“The realisation that you don’t want the thing you’ve worked so hard for is terrifying,” she said.“I noticed social media was just taking off and realised there was some business to be done there, but a lot of people didn’t get it. They thought I was mad for quitting.”With help from a small start-up loan, Laura set about establishing her company, FabTrade, who help brands find fame online by connecting them with those who have huge online followings.
PA Real Life/Jay McLaughlinLaura Ward-Ongley
Laura left advertising to start her own company
Slowly, the rest of the industry followed suit, with bloggers being seen more and more as advertising opportunities.
Now, Laura is a pioneer in her field, connecting social influencers with PLC brands and listed FTSE companies.
She is tasked with convincing some of the biggest companies in the world to reassign their budgets with her, making them understand the importance of social media and viral distribution.
Earlier this year, FabTrade was estimated to be worth £10 million and is now looking to expand its offices stateside.
“I still feel very much at the beginning of what I want to achieve with FabTrade, but all the risks so far have been worth it,” she said.“It just goes to show that a degree isn’t the be all and end all. Obviously, for vocational jobs, you need them, but some of the most successful people I know didn’t go to university.“If you’ve got that insane work ethic and are prepared to give it your all, you can achieve anything.”

The truth is if you don't take that risk, you just might never know....

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