By Ilona Alcock, JCI UK TOYP (Ten Outstanding Young Persons) Project Manager
Following on from my interview with Sofie on her experience of running TOYP in JCI London last year, I got chance to catch up with Stephen Wells, past president of JCI Reading.
Steve only selected one candidate to enter TOYP but he clearly chose well as Jamie Dunn made it to the top 20 shortlist in the world!
How did you get involved with TOYP? Why was it important to you and your Chamber?
I got involved in JCI TOYP by experiencing it first hand at the world congress in Tunisia. Going along the awards presentation and hearing all the stories of how people had been inspired and motivated to change something was in itself inspiring. Meeting two of the winners (Sabirul Islam and Emily Cummings) was the icing on the cake. JCI Reading then went on to invite Emily to our Gala dinner as a keynote speaker where I actually go the chance to find out a little about the person behind the achievement, proving that these are real people that have achieved outstanding things.
What was important to me, as much as JCI Reading, was getting someone recognised for the things they do. When I first started talking to Jamie I knew that I would eventually enter him for the awards, and I wanted to see if he walked the walk rather than just being talk, at Inspiration Day 2010 I was asked if I would be putting him forward, and I said ‘Yes, but not yet’ for it to be of long term benefit for JCI UK/ JCI Reading I needed to ensure we had a real relationship that could be beneficial long into the future, not just a few months of promoting him.
What challenges did you face when running the JCI Reading TOYP programme?
Jamie was a single application, rather than a programme, but the biggest challenge was getting the timing of the application right.
If you look at Jamie’s history he is on what can only be described as an exponential curve. What he was doing 2 years ago is tiny in comparison to where he was when we wrote the application, and he has already surpassed everything he was doing at the time. This meant that we had to do the application close to the deadline so that what was judged and honoured was what he was still doing, this also gave us the most high profile and impactful events.
An example of this is that since, not because, Jamie went through the TOYP process his guest posts on Virgin.com are now receiving in excess of 250,000 views! On top of that he is currently in process of setting up Spark Global offices in California, Lebanon and Cairo, so I still wonder if we submitted his application too early, would this year have been better, or maybe next?
Even when we did the application so much was going it was very hard to nail down the actions to impact etc, I was not really happy with the application, but it went in.
What was the best part of TOYP?
Following on from not being happy about the application the best bit has to be receiving the email from the World President notifying us that Jamie was in the final 20. I think I was more excited that Jamie!
Your chosen candidate got to the top 20 global shortlist which is an incredible achievement! What advice would you give to people looking for candidates this year?
Know your candidate. As I mentioned earlier I waited nearly 2 years to nominate Jamie and included things he had mentioned to me about what he did, how he did it from conversations throughout those 2 years. I knew the stories, the impact and was able to frame it in a way that showed off his true achievement, even someone like Jamie is actually fairly modest about what they have done.
Any other tips for running a successful TOYP programme?
Just get on with it! And ask for help from the national team.
Start looking for one person today. Keep it simple and focused to start with. One application is all JCI Reading did and Jamie got to the final 20 IN THE WORLD. Read the categories and application form now, then park it at the back of your mind, you will be surprised how many people start to spring to mind.
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