By Lewis Barnes, Service Delivery Manager at Capgemini
I was extremely excited to hear about Capgemini’s new partnership with The Prince’s Trust, designed to improve digital skills of disadvantaged young people. That’s because I have firsthand experience of the benefits The Prince’s Trust provides as I myself was helped tremendously by the charity through initially enrolling onto their Business Enterprise Programme and then attending several of their workshops.
When I was 8 years old, I thought I might become a Wimbledon tennis champion one day. At that point I was selected to join the Lawn Tennis Association Academy at Loughborough University, and I had to leave home and live at a boarding school to accommodate my training demands.
This is when I first came across The Prince’s Trust, as they collaborated with my tennis academy to provide employability skills workshops to those whose academic career was negatively affected by the amount of hours dedicated to tennis training.
I pursued my tennis career and had some great successes – I won the junior World Cup for Great Britain, reached the Quarter Finals of Junior Wimbledon and represented Team England at the Youth Commonwealth Games in India. Unfortunately, while competing in India, I was bitten by an insect and my immune system became compromised. The condition stopped me from training at an elite level for two years and at that point the gap between me and my peers had become too great to viably catch up and make a living from tennis as a career. This was a very difficult time for me as my whole life had been geared towards my goal of becoming a successful, professional tennis player.
At that time my education had suffered as well, so I could not rely on my academic achievements. It was then that I got in touch with The Prince’s Trust again. I decided to enrol onto their Business Enterprise Course and they taught me an array of skills and gave me hope in my ability. I was struck by the family atmosphere created by The Prince’s Trust and this environment nurtured my success.
Following the completion of the course, I founded my own tennis consultancy company where I merged the skills that I had learnt from The Prince’s Trust and my background of playing tennis. I became a Young Ambassador for the charity as I wanted to give back some of the help that the Trust had given me, and I have mentored several people who had business ideas or who were seeking employment. I took great pleasure in seeing some of my ‘pupils’ gain employment or launch their own businesses.
Realising the importance of education, I worked extremely hard to be awarded a First Class degree in Business Management from Birmingham City University. After graduating I joined the graduate scheme at Capgemini in September 2014 and I am currently a Service Delivery Manager.
I owe a huge amount to The Prince’s Trust. Without their guidance, support and enthusiasm I would certainly not be in the position that I find myself in today. No matter what your circumstances are, The Princes Trust will always believe in you and help your nurture your skill set.
I wish luck to those about to enrol on one of the new courses run by The Prince’s Trust in collaboration with Capgemini – they’re going to be life changing!