ConnectiD meets Johnny Luk, CEO of NACUE
We’re very excited to be speaking to Johnny, CEO of NACUE to find out more about his entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. In this interview, he takes the opportunity to introduce himself and to explain his vision for NACUE, his biggest challenges to date and to advise our readers on success and failure.
Hi Johnny! I hope final preparations go well for the Varsity Pitch. We are all very curious to hear about the latest business ideas and trends taking the UK market by storm. We will be keeping an eye on all entries and look forward to watching the Finals in November 2016.
1) What should I know about you as a person? What’s your background?
I grew up in a number of countries but mainly in the UK. I started out as a fairly shy person and never planned to run a company. It was sport, through rowing (as a school sport) that gave me the confidence and leadership training to be where I am today. It’s the main reason why I advocate non-formal learning.
2) What is NACUE and what inspired you to create this organisation? What’s your vision for NACUE?
I wasn’t the founder of NACUE, but had the privilege of running NACUE for the last two years. I feel that our education system is too rigid and academic, and deters the hundreds of thousands of students who are able to succeed in the future. The best way to do that is to create a supportive environment.
I want NACUE to be more focused on not just asking students to become more enterprising in a general sense, but actually help convert students into creating successful companies. We are getting closer to that journey, but much more to do.
3) What’s next for NACUE in the future?
I think we want to continue to shape our events cycle so that there is a more natural ‘flow’ on our events, i.e. there is a journey in our events, so that students feel constantly supported throughout, including organising our events so that the conference, enterprise creation and monitoring and recognising enterprise societies such as the Leaders Summit flow effectively.
4) Your greatest success as CEO of NACUE? Most difficult moment – how did you overcome and what did you learn?
I have faced a huge amount of challenges running a company we were heavily dependent on the state sector, which was under strain due to government austerity and Further Education (FE) restructuring. So a lot of changes had to be made to NACUE on that front.
I learned that resilience and surrounding yourself with great people is key, and that being a charity is certainly not the cuddly happy land that I thought it was.
However I wouldn’t trade the learning experience for the world, I understand business far more now, and I am much more resilient than before. I am honoured and grateful for the opportunity.
5) Your Life Motto?
Think less – Do more.
6) What literature is on your bed stand?
Mainly biographies of inspiring people, like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Alex Ferguson, Richard Branson, etc.
7) Role model – business and personal?
As a Business role model, I would pick Elon Musk, a well-blended mix of high risk, but great visionary. On the personal side, I choose Graham Kinch, my finance colleague and mentor; he is ice cool, smart and just amazing!
8) What are you doing when not running NACUE?
I love advising other startups and brainstorming ideas. I also like rowing and spending time with friends. Never enough time though!
The first HACKminster ever organised by NACUE in collaboration with the University of Westminster, March 2016
9) Startups vs Corporates World – Which one would you choose?
Startups, although corporates is a source of valuable insight. I think working in the civil service is a slightly different case too – as it’s about serving your country, and I was privileged to do so for two years before joining NACUE.
10) Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur? Any tips for those who are about to embark on their own start-up journey?
Don’t think too much – don’t worry about business plans, just start. Get a good co-founder who has as much energy as you.
11) Being CEO of a national organisation must keep you busy.
How do you keep your address book up to date to avoid losing contacts details over time?
It’s pretty manual at the moment, my colleagues have created a spreadsheet with all my contacts, and we have a CRM system. I’m intrigued to try ConnectiD now though as you just shared your full set of details with me so quickly and easily – I’ll definitely check it out as I meet new people all of the time!
Many thanks to Johnny for sharing his experiences with us – we wish him all the best for the future! If you’d like to find out more about NACUE and stay up-to-date with the latest startup trends visit the website here!