Anna Cameron, 2005 Leaver

Job Title: Founder – Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea

What was your favourite subject at Queen’s Gate and why?

My year was the first to be offered Psychology at A level and I took it up almost solely because my best friends did (sensible reason) but I absolutely loved it! So much so that I went on to study Psychology at university.

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

There were a few and all because it seemed so obvious how much they cared about each pupil and how we developed both academically and as people. Mrs Jones (ICT), Miss Don (History) and Mrs Bleazard (English and my Head of Sixth Form) really stand out to me because of these qualities. My first ‘Speech and Drama’ (extra lesson) teacher, Mrs Walters also inspired my love of drama and theatre, which I am very grateful for.

What is your fondest memory of Queen’s Gate?

My fondest memories are on going as I am so grateful for the people I met at Queen’s Gate who I am still very close to. My best and oldest friends are Queen’s Gate girls.

Looking back, what do you feel Queen’s Gate has given you? Anything particularly relevant to entrepreneurship?

When I think of my year group, we all seem very confident, driven, happy and positive people. These qualities are, I feel, essential to entrepreneurship as well as the ability to ask for advice and support from people and know you would give others the same in return.

How do you think Queen’s Gate helped you get where you are today?

Quite a few people from my year have gone on to start their own businesses and I know that following their progress and seeing how well they are all doing has helped inspire me in growing my babysitting business. Being London based, the network of support you can draw upon is also hugely beneficial.

Did you get involved in any extra-curricular activities such as music, debating or sport?

I always really enjoyed drama. I took extra LAMDA lessons and tried to be involved in the school play and end of term theatre events. I also played the flute and sang in the school choir but stayed firmly away from sports. I feel so sorry for my sports teachers!

What do you think Queen’s Gate’s unique selling point is?

That despite the potential temptations of being educated in an all girls, day school, and in central London, we all stayed pretty well grounded, happy and kind to each other .We were able to stop each other from growing up too quickly, not care what we looked like during the week (which most of the time was pretty hideous) and interact as a year group because of the small class sizes.

What made you decide on your university course? How has this degree helped you to start your own company?

As I said, I loved taking Psychology at A Level and, because I was unsure quite what I wanted to do after University, I knew Psychology would be great as it is applicable to virtually any career. I didn’t find University work all that easy and the fact that I loved the subject so much was a real benefit. An understanding of people and the way we tick has certainly helped in a way but I don’t think it has directly impacted upon my starting up BOKAC.

Tell us about your journey from choosing your university to your job now.

It has certainly been a process of trial and error! I didn’t have the luxury, as most people don’t, of knowing what I wanted to do. I have been fortunate in that I have enjoyed the jobs I have had for different reasons and met some great people. I also feel incredibly lucky to have started BOKAC but, although I run my own business now, I would also like to work for someone else for a while as I know I still have so much to learn.

What is it like to run your own company at such a young age? What are the positives and negatives?

I love running my own business as you remain so conscious that everything you do or don’t do either benefits or hinders you, which is incredibly motivating. You see the direct results of your work almost daily. You manage your own time and meet incredibly interesting people. The support and help I receive from other business owners, friends, family and the babysitters who work for BOKAC is also wonderful.

The negative is the worry and lack of structure. You don’t get paid holiday leave, sick days, over time, pension contributions, maternity leave etc. It’s all on you. There often isn’t a regular income and probably wont be much of an income at all for a while when you start. That can be a bit daunting and you really have to want to stick at it to keep going. However, that just makes it all the more satisfying when things do start to go right!

Do you have any advice for those thinking of a career in your industry or starting their own company?

When I was starting to build the website, I asked my dad what went wrong for him when he was starting up his own business and what I should I expect and he replied: ‘Everything. Expect everything to go wrong’ (eternal optimist that he is) and it’s true! Absolutely everything that could go wrong, did. Expect and prepare for the worst and then you are equipped to deal with hurdles.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of talking to everyone you know about your business and asking for help. You never know what advice you will receive and it’s all invaluable.

Professionally, what would you like to be doing in 5 and 10 years?

In 5 years time I would like to be working for a company (BOKAC, very conveniently can run along beside me so I would still keep that going), traveling all over the world almost constantly and challenged by my job. In 10 years time I would like to be back to working for myself, building a company or maybe even several companies in industries that I am passionate about.

Are you still in touch with QG friends?

Yes, 3 of the girls from my year remain my closest girl friends and I see them regularly. As the year was so small, my friends are also friends with other girls so we always hear each others’ news. A few people are starting to get married and have babies now which is wonderful (and great for BOKAC!) but pretty terrifying at the same time.

What do you miss about Queen’s Gate?

School is such a safe, steady and stable environment where your friends constantly surround you. Sometimes I do feel nostalgic for that…and the tuck shop.