Business Profile: Former BYPY winner Anthony McCourt
Apr 23 2010 By Sonya Bell
“I went to a large comprehensive school instead but it was absolutely fantastic and the staff took all of us under their wings and genuinely cared about our progress. I think that in the end the education I had was probably better than it would have been if I had gone to the grammar school, grades are meaningless in the context of a career and I’m proud of my comprehensive state school education.”
Since leaving Portadown to come to Birmingham, Anthony has not considered returning to live in his hometown.
“Compared to Portadown, Birmingham is like Disneyland,” he said.
“Growing up in Portadown was an experience because it’s a flash point of political tension. There was a very clear dividing line between Protestants and Catholics.
“I grew up in a very republican area but I don’t hold republican views and my family don’t either, which was always interesting in our part of town.
“I miss my family of course, and I’ve got six nephews who are all growing up, but I couldn’t see myself going back to live there, not after the eight brilliant years I’ve had here from being a kid at uni to being a working adult in the city.”
Anthony isn’t afraid of risk or change and moving to Birmingham aged 18 was just the beginning.
Two years ago he entered BYPY against the advice of several senior business figures, who told him he couldn’t possibly win because he was too young and too inexperienced.
“It was that type of advice that convinced me to apply,” he says with defiance.
“The more senior the source, the more determined I became to prove them wrong.
“I spoke to a lot of senior people on Colmore Row and some of them said ‘don’t go for it, you’re too young and you won’t win.’ But I thought, what’s the worst that could happen?
“I knew that if I was successful it could open doors for me personally and help me achieve some of the things I wanted to do.
“People listen to you as BYPY, it’s a brand that businesses take notice of and now BYPY is part of my personal franchise, which I use to help with things like the Enterprise Academy.”
Shortly after winning BYPY, Anthony took what some would see as another big risk, leaving a career in the law to start anew in property.
“I found myself going down a road into law and I often queried why I was doing it,” he says.
“I was at a super firm and I only have good things to say about Wragge & Co but I realised that if I wasn’t enjoying the law in a place like that, with great clients and partners, then I would never enjoy the law and if I wasn’t enjoying it, I would never be great at it either.