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Harry Jackson: A Laidlaw case study

I’ve realised that I can be the leader I want to be – without compromising on my values. My goal is to become a contemporary, holistic leader.

Harry Jackson would one day like to own a sustainable clothing brand. He is currently studying for a degree in Business Management at York and feels that this has provided him with lots of theoretical knowledge of how business works.

But Harry had already gained a wealth of experience when he took a year out before University and worked in a local bakery. He got the chance to hit the ground running when the Head Baker left and he was offered the job.

“I had absolutely no culinary experience but I learned everything on the job. It was brilliant as it was a small business and I had direct access to the owner and could see all of the decisions he made from ordering stock through to sales and marketing. I set up an online presence for the bakery and even started running pizza nights there: I learned so much.”

When he initially heard about the Laidlaw Scholarship in his first year, Harry wasn’t sure whether to apply as he didn’t think he would be successful. It took his course leader Dr Matthew Hollow’s encouragement to give it a go and it was a decision well made.

Harry already had a passion in ethical clothing and he saw a great opportunity to explore this further through the research part of the programme. Initially he decided to focus his research on the challenges of a fully sustainable supply chain in the fashion industry. However when he began to research the subject, he stumbled across a gap in the market:

“While reading about businesses that focus on building your own products – such a Lego and IKEA – I realised that this concept was largely missing from the clothing industry. I also realised that putting in the time to construct or make something is a rewarding experience and I decided to look at how this approach, along with better instructions for caring for garments, could lead to consumers investing more value in their clothes – becoming more sustainable, through extended garment lifecycles, in the process.”

Harry has found the Leadership part of the programme surprising as he enjoyed it so much more than he expected. He participated in a role-play exercise around supplier negotiation and this taught him a lot about different styles of leadership:

“I was faced with this character who was angry and I approached her in a compassionate way and with a humane response trying to find a solution that worked for both of us. I didn’t know if this was the right thing to do but I was praised for how I dealt with the situation. I learned that I could be the leader I want to be – using empathy and emotional intelligence – and that this doesn’t compromise my values.”

So what’s next for Harry? After his degree he would like to learn the basics of sewing and tailoring so that he really understands the skills needed for the future business he would like to develop.

With his Business degree, CMI level 5 qualification in Management gained during the Scholarship and relevant life experience it feels like Harry has a clear career pathway in place. And there’s no doubt that his strong values, ethical approach and his obvious passion for his vision will go a long way towards helping him to achieve his admirable goals.