The Pocklington School Foundation (PSF) Careers & Business Network held its latest event in London recently, with the focus for the evening on entrepreneurship and business leadership.
The guest speaker for the event was Old Pocklingtonian James Sweeting, director of award winning coffee roasting company Lincoln & York Ltd and the UK’s acclaimed ‘best snack brand’ Pipers Crisps.
Both companies appeared in The Grocer’s annual ‘Fast 50’ list for 2017, which names the fastest growing food and drink businesses in the UK. James has also recently been named in the Sunday Times/Maserati top 100 entrepreneurs list, which recognises innovators in the business world.
James left Pocklington School to become a trainee coffee buyer at Lyons Tetley Ltd, learning the trade and travelling widely. After five years, along with a business partner, James started Lincoln & York Ltd. 24 years later, the company supplies almost 19,000 coffee shop outlets and are experts in sourcing, roasting, packing and delivering completely customised coffee products.
In 2003, James and his partner entered the speciality crisp market, with Pipers Crisps, producing gourmet hand cooked crisps to supply independent retailers. The crisps are now available throughout the UK, in Europe and the USA, and Pipers Crips has been identified as one of London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain.’
More recently, James and his partner diversified into machinery production and purchased Sumo (UK) Ltd, a manufacturer of agricultural cultivation and seeding machinery. The business is being restructured to enable it to supply farm machinery to dealers around the World.
The networking event, which was attended by a mix of former students, current and former parents of Pocklington School, was held at the University Women’s Club, Mayfair and followed on from the launch of the PSF Careers & Business Network held at School in 2017 and a networking event in Leeds in March.
James shared with guests his insights into being an entrepreneur and how his belief in persistency, consistency and strong and focussed leadership has enabled him to successfully grow his businesses. This included understanding the importance of the ‘break even’ point, always looking out for good people even if you don’t have an immediate need and grasping opportunities as they arise.
Sheena McNamee, external relations director, Pocklington School said: “Since leaving Pocklington School, James has had a fascinating career and we are very grateful to him for sharing his truly inspirational story with us. His determination and focus is remarkable and he is a fantastic example to our School community of how if you set yourself a goal, whatever challenges you meet along the way, you should persevere.”
The PSF Careers and Business Network is open to everyone in the wider Pocklington School community, including current and former parents, Old Pocklingtonians, current and former staff and supporters. Its aims are to help each other thrive in a highly competitive world and, by working together, to help inspire our students, and each other, for life.