“University is the perfect bridge between education and the real world. It’s a chance to focus on your work and get work experience which gives you a perfect foundation for a career.”
Starting your own business isn’t easy, but for Gavin O’Brien, studying at the University of Bedfordshire gave him the skills he needed to create a highly successful media production company.
Gavin, from Luton, went to school and college in the town before joining the University in 2004 to study Media Production & Business Administration. It was there that his passion truly took flight.
“It was fantastic to be able to work with lecturers who had lots of experience. They were always really honest with us about our work, which helped us improved. We were also very fortunate to have access to fantastic facilities and equipment,” said Gavin, 30.
“Coming to university gave me the chance to meet new people, but most importantly, it had that sense of security. You could tap into the knowledge and expertise of experienced lecturers and work out exactly what you wanted to do. Having good mentors was really important.”
That all important support carried on even after Gavin graduated in 2007. Along with fellow graduate and childhood friend Alex Lawrence, the pair started their own media production business, advised every step of the way by their tutors, who even let the pair borrow university equipment in the early day and offered endless advice for running a business.
And so it was then that Clearhead was born, and it wasn’t long before Gavin and Alex were able to buy their own equipment. The company has gone from strength to strength and has national organisations like Cadbury, the BBC, Sky and Coca Cola on its books.
Keen to give something back, Gavin and Alex have taken on other graduates from the University and regularly share their expertise to current Media Production students during workshops and masterclasses.
Gavin and Alex base themselves at the Hat Factory in Luton but have gone on to open office in London and most recently New York.
Gavin also went on to be named Alumnus of the Year at the University’s Student Experience Awards. In the wider community, he is also Chair of the Board of the Luton BID (Business Improvement District) group, which aims to build an entrepreneurial business community in the town.
Now a Partner & Business Director for Clearhead, Gavin said: “University is the perfect bridge between education and the real world. It’s a chance to focus on your work and get work experience which gives you a perfect foundation for a career.”
For Gavin, university isn’t just about a degree. “Going to university gives you time to explore who you are as a person and really allows you to know exactly what you want to do afterwards.”