If you tell me I can’t achieve it I will prove you wrong!

I COULD probably attribute most of my success to my determination to succeed and never give up.

WELCOME to our comment column, in which leading figures from the region present a thought-provoking view on an issue affecting their company or organisation or the wider community. Today it’s the turn of Kristina Grimes, runner-up in TV’s The Apprentice who will be speaking at a Middlesbrough Business Forum event on October 8.

I COULD probably attribute most of my success to my determination to succeed and never give up.

If there is one piece of advice that I could give anyone, no matter what your goals and aspirations in life are, no matter what hurdles you meet along the way, never lose sight of that goal and eventually you will achieve it.

I say that with such assurance because that has always been my motto, if you tell me I can’t achieve it I will prove you wrong!

I didn’t have it handed to me on a plate. Yes I had rather a privileged childhood, my father was MD of Coca Cola (Ireland) and from an early age he was my biggest inspiration.

As far as I was concerned I wouldn’t stop until I achieved what he had and more.

But when I was 17-years-old I got pregnant and in an archaic Ireland I was soon to realise it wasn’t going to be easy.

I was told then I had ruined my life ……. I set to prove them wrong.

I put myself through university, I worked in burger bars and night clubs, I did whatever it took to put myself on the ladder.

My son was my priority but I knew the harder I worked the more I could give him.

Eventually I took up a middle management position for a pharmaceutical company.

This was five years prior to applying to The Apprentice.

My work ethic is fairly simple.

Don’t ask anything from your team unless you are willing to demonstrate yourself that it is achievable.

Always be networking whether it be in the beauty salon, in business meetings or in the gym - never switch off.

Remember to close the sale - many sales people can go through all the features and benefits but fail to close the deal for fear of failing.

I chose to apply for The Apprentice for one reason and one reason only, it was “Kristina Time”.

My son was at university and it was time to push myself to the max, expose myself - how better than let six million viewers watch you and assess you.

I thought I was good at business but wanted to see if, under those conditions, could I be as good as I thought?

Let me tell you, this is a lot tougher than you think, they strip you of all the things we take for granted - mobile phones, contact with your family, letters are opened and read before you receive them, TV monitored, reading material taken from you, no access to the internet, the list is endless.

Then they get you up at 5am and the tasks begin. If you couldn’t cope with the stress you would crack up.

But for me, I had one focus to win so nothing was going to stop me.

Yes, I didn’t win but I now realise runner-up is the better option.

I had over 100 job offers including one from Sir Alan and now have a fantastic opportunity with property developer Dandara Ltd as their investment sales director.

It’s a really exciting role and one I totally believe in.

So do I think I have made it in business? Yes I have done well but I have a lot more in me yet to come.

As you can see from what I have said I strongly believe attitude and confidence play a large part in business success.

But recently I came across one Teesside business which was sadly lacking in these attributes. On the whole my experience of Middlesbrough and its business people has always been positive.

But just after leaving The Apprentice, I was contacted about work by a Middlesbrough-based business. The caller, in the first instance, apologised that they were calling from Middlesbrough.

I got the impression they were almost embarrassed/ashamed and they went on to say “you won’t have heard of Middlesbrough”.

My response was ‘what - it is a great place, what are you saying?’

I went on to talk about my time in the pharmaceutical industry and my knowledge of the industries in the Tees Valley.

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