If you could harness Anna’s energy and translate it into an elixir, it would cure almost any ailment. We sat down with Anna Lee, Carmel’s newest teacher, to find out about her background and her plans for the brand new entrepreneur program, set to run from Term 3. After that interview, we couldn’t help but wish we were back in Year 9 and about to attend her classes.
Anna went to Perth Modern for high school, and it was during this time her passion for problem-solving, STEAM and looking at ‘Wicked Problems’ was ignited. She loved working with others to come up with ideas to solve real-world problems and was set on changing the world. With that intention in mind, she enrolled at university and commenced a Politics and Management course. Unfortunately, she found the classes a little stale and uninspiring and the one unit she was able to do on entrepreneurship wasn’t as exhilarating as her earlier experiences. Not prepared to give up on her dream, Anna started to volunteer at Bloom Lab. “Bloom was exactly what I needed. I met like-minded people, passionate about solving problems in innovative ways that were meaningful to consumers, plus I discovered I had a real talent in helping people develop the soft skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur. Because I had grown up in a family where we owned our own business and I had always helped with communications and customer relations, I had a skills set that was a vital complement to the process of getting new businesses launched successfully.” Anna continued to volunteer at Bloom as she finished her undergraduate degree and then commenced her Juris Doctor Law degree.
Anna has done a lot of thinking about what entrepreneurship, a nebulous term for some, actually is and how it should be defined. “For me, entrepreneurship comes down to three things; finding solutions to problems consumers have and making a difference in the world; being your own boss; and, developing skills for the future of work.” Anna agrees with the idea that the jobs of today may not exist in a few years’ time, so it is important to develop the soft skills you need to be a success in any business. “Skills like communication, negotiation, critical thinking, positivity and work ethic will equip you for success no matter where you end up,” she says.
In Anna’s opinion, high school students are at the perfect age to start their entrepreneurship journey. She has taught people from age 8 – 50 and, while each demographic brings strengths and weaknesses to the table, teenagers have that unique mix of savviness about how the world works, without being burdened by too much intellectual baggage or entrenched ways of thinking. “It is true, however, that teenagers can be lacking in empathy and a little focused on themselves, but the course will break them out of that way of thinking and very quickly get them focused on the consumer,” she adds.
We asked Anna what the fortunate Year 9 class can expect as they commence their entrepreneurship classes next term. “Well, don’t expect a traditional class! Students will quickly be engaging with people in the ‘real world’ and there will be a lot of opportunities to get out of their comfort zone as they develop their ideas into businesses and work towards the pitch. We will have a really cool new space to learn and create in, and additionally, we will be touring innovative, creative maker spaces around Perth.”
The entrepreneurship program will be unique to Carmel, as we are the only school in Australia offering the Uncharted Learning curriculum. One of the highlights of the program will be the input from mentors and we are seeking members of the Perth business community to come on board to shepherd groups of students through the ideation process, as they shape their concept through to pitch. For more information on how you can get involved, contact Anna directly by email.