HAVING received their exam results just last month, eager New Bridge Integrated pupils returned to class one day early this term for some words of inspiration from the “greatest salesman” UK businessman Lord Sugar has ever seen.
Apprentice finalist Jim Eastwood dropped by the school last week to advise pupils on his experience in education and the world of work - and he even let them in on a few behind-the-scenes secrets from the popular television show.
The 32-year-old, who has just become a father to baby Charlotte, said he was “massively impressed” by the enthusiasm and insight of the Lower and Upper Sixth pupils who grilled him on everything from his GAA days in Tyrone to his favourite cliches.
Speaking to the Leader following the talk and Q and A session, Jim said he is loving life after the Apprentice.
“Since the show people have emailed through and said they were inspired by my time on the Apprenctice,” he said. “I think because the Apprentice was so public and there were so many millions of people watching it, that people can relate to who they think you are. Through Twitter and my website and Facebook and even through meeting people in the street I think that I have inspired people. It’s a lovely by-product of my involvement in the show and I’m flattered by the fact that I have something to offer.”
The pupils, gathered together by Careers teacher Hilary Harbinson who thanked Tesco, Ulster Bank and First Trust for their sponsorship of the event, clearly made an impression on Jim who said they will provide a strong future for Northern Ireland.
“I was massively impressed by the pupils and the fact that so many of them asked questions, the Q and A went on for far longer than I expected. I think the principal would agree that they were confident and composed. They are all professional, ambitious, forward-thinking individuals and I just think that the reaction from them today was phenomenal.”
While he has been involved in giving motivational talks at schools for years, Jim said his involvement in the Apprentice has allowed him to expand on that. And his latest role as a father has inspired him further.
“I think as soon as you become a father, not to overegg it, your sense of responsibility just increases dramatically. It’s a real game-changer,” he said, adding that he is very much the “doting dad”.
“I’ll always be involved in education. Anytime I can impart my knowledge and experience to other people for them to benefit I will take every opportunity to do that. People contact me through my website, that’s a good way of them saying we’ve got a challenge that we are facing in our school or in our business and we want you to come in and speak or conduct a series of courses and that’s what I do anyway. And I think the profile that I now have allows me to do more of that and for that I’m very grateful.”
Showing no signs of the tiredness or exhaustion that comes in the first weeks of fatherhood, Jim said he is thoroughly enjoying getting to know his baby daughter.
“She’s doing famously,” he said. “I’m running on adrenaline - I’m at that stage where I just think everything’s fantastic. I’m contemplating getting rid of Sky TV just so I can sit and look at her more. I’m the doting dad.”