Miranda Rijks (Fe. 1983-85) is a business coach, specialising in marketing and creative thinking. Miranda studied Law at Durham, and became one of the first marketing managers for a city law firm.
1. When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I had no idea.
2. What are you now you've grown up?
I’m still trying to decide! Officially, a business mentor, but I would also describe myself as an entrepreneur and an author.
3. What is your best memory of school?
I have so many wonderful memories, particularly related to music and drama. Acting in Ibsen’s ‘The Pillars of Society’, dressing up in fabulous costumes, was a highlight in Lower Sixth. I suspect I was the worst tennis player ever to be in a Brighton College tennis team! We lost every game I played in but still had great fun...
4. What was the best piece of advice you were given
‘Grab the opportunity of a lifetime in the lifetime of the opportunity’ was my grandfather’s motto. ‘People value you as you value yourself’, was something my dad taught me. That’s a good one to bear in mind when asking for a pay rise or pitching for new business!
5. What do you do /did you do as a career
I have changed career multiple times! After a Law degree at Durham, I worked in marketing for about ten years, starting off at Maxwell Communications. I then became one of the first marketing managers for a city law firm, followed by working for consultancy firms and setting up offices in Eastern Europe. After getting married, I took over the family business which was a large independent garden centre. We sold it when I was approached to develop a new children’s brand and leisure attraction near Manchester. Latterly I returned to consultancy work. Inspired by the volunteer business mentoring I did for The Prince’s Trust, I trained as a coach, took qualifications in psychometric testing, and now I work with entrepreneurs helping them set up new businesses. A few years ago, I studied for a Master’s in Writing. I’ve had a couple of books published – self-help and a biography, and am writing my third novel. The first two novels have sat in a drawer but hopefully this one will see the light of day! On the side, I ran a holiday let business and my husband and I have I turned a couple of derelict wrecks into homes. Crazily, now we’ve moved back to Sussex, we’re about to embark on another grand design! My career (if you can call it that) has been great fun and has taken lots of twists and turns. Hopefully they’ll be plenty more excitement along the way.
6. What does your job involve?
My job involves working closely with individuals who are setting up new businesses. I support them, give them advice, help them prepare their business plans, and if they want, do a lot of the setup tasks for them – anything from developing branding and getting their websites designed, to doing their PR and sourcing suppliers. The aim is to help them get their new venture up and running as quickly and successfully as possible, and ensure their business has excellent foundations.
7. What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Not getting too involved with my clients! I want my clients to do well, but at the end of the day it’s their journey, not mine. I can only offer support. Also, some people are just not cut out to be entrepreneurs. That can be a difficult but essential conversation to have with someone early on.
8. What have you done that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of our daughter, Francesca (known as Ceskie), who is a multi-talented musician, violinist, composer and singer songwriter. She won two scholarships to study music in America and has just completed the first year of her degree.
I’m also proud of creating businesses that have made people happy and I hope I’ve been a good employer. I’ve stayed in touch with many of my ex-employees and love hearing from them.
9. What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
Good health and no pain. I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a rare bone cancer, two years ago. I’m fine now, but it’s been tough, and my titanium femur gives me a lot of pain. This cancer normally afflicts teenagers and the harsh chemo treatment hasn’t progressed in twenty years. The Sarcoma Trust is in desperate need of funding, so anyone with a spare pound or two, please donate to Sarcoma UK.
10. What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
Knitting needles and an endless supply of yarn (hope that counts as one!), my piano and a notebook.
11. How would you like to be remembered?
As a kind person who gave everything her best shot!