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Three young talents who have been friends since their Coulsdon College days over 10 years ago have mentored today’s students on how to own their futures.

BBC radio producer Rajen Jotangia, top chartered accountant Yusuf Ahmet and Mohammed Sheikh, e-commerce finance manager, took part in our ‘Inspiring Career Choices’ event on 12 January.

The webinar was part of the College’s new virtual Enrichment programme ‘Do More, Be More’ that brings together staff and alumni to share their experiences and skills to offer advice and support to inspire students to succeed in their careers and personal development. Rajen, Yusuf and Mohammed met in 2007 while studying at Coulsdon Sixth Form College and have remained close friends ever since.

Mohammed, founder of Uplifting Travel and E-Commerce Finance Manager for FTSE100 company Reckitt Benckiser, which owns brands such as Dettol and Durex, said: “Your college years are about making the right friends. We speak regularly and are constantly advising each other in terms of our careers, family life and investments. They’re always going to guide me in the right direction. It’s so powerful and something I’m so grateful for.’

“You are the average of your five friends. If you’re hanging out with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, you’re going to do great things,” he added.

Mohammed, who studied IT and failed at university twice before switching to finance and graduating from the University of Plymouth in 2014 with a 1st Class Degree in Accounting & Finance, also spoke about the importance of being willing to change your career path to find something you are passionate about, and that it’s “ok to change your job 10 times”.

Rajen, a radio producer at BBC 1Xtra & Asian Network for Charlie Sloth, MistaJam, Trevor Nelson and Snoochie Shy to name a few, praised the resources at the new college building and urged students to take up opportunities presented to them.

“Make the most of the environment around you,” he said, adding: “They say your network is your net worth. The support system Coulsdon College gave us opened our eyes and gave us the careers we dreamed of.”

Rajen came to college having passed just three GCSEs but excelled while there, then graduated in Media Production (Radio) from the University of Westminster before starting his career on local radio station and joining the BBC in 2017.

“Coulsdon College gave me the opportunity to prove myself to myself, family, friends and to the world. I made a conscious effort to turn my life around,” he said.

Yusuf, who worked at Big Four firm Ernst & Young, urged students to remain focused despite difficulties presenting by the pandemic, saying: “These years are some of the most important in your life – they will decide your future. You have to decide who you want to be, and what the principles are you want to live by.

“It’s about looking deep, finding that fire, that strength. It’s easy to quit but those that don’t quit will succeed.”

Yusuf studied A levels in Business Studies, Maths, IT and Accounting, and was awarded a first-class degree in Accounting & Financial Management from University of Surrey. He said university helped him “learn about myself as an individual”.

If you are a former student at Coulsdon Sixth Form College, Croydon College or Croydon University Centre and would like to share your story to encourage students to success, contact marketing@croydon.ac.uk.

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