Teenage student inspired to set up business following redundancy

Lucy Coubrough on the beach

Lucy Coubrough was inspird to set up her own business following a setback during lockdown - Credit: TMS Media

A teenager who was given a redundancy setback amid coronavirus has bounced back by setting up her own business. 

With the help of the Swedish energy group Vattenfall, who has also become a client, 19-year-old Lucy Coubrough's career path is now firmly in place.

The student had suffered a blow when her apprenticeship with British Airways ended at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

But undeterred, Miss Coubrough, from Norwich, knew that it was time to apply herself to a new challenge and took the leap to start her own business six years earlier than originally planned.  

She is now the founder and director of Alfico Project Management, a consultancy she established with the help of Vattenfall. She is also continuing with her degree in Construction Management at Anglia Ruskin University while running her business in parallel. 

“I had a long-term plan of setting up my own business by the age of 25," she said. "And now I am set up and ready to go six years early.

Susan Falch-Lovesey and Lucy Coubrough at the Restart Festival

Susan Falch-Lovesey and Lucy Coubrough at the Restart Festival - Credit: VATTENFALL

"Sue Falch-Lovesey and the Vattenfall team have been so supportive. When I spoke to Sue about wanting to be a project manager, she explained the importance of apprenticeships and helped me find a placement. 

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"To come out of my apprenticeship and fall straight into something was undeniably helpful. Vattenfall has been the turning point in helping me shape my career."

The link between the energy group and the teenager began while she was studying at the University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) in Norwich. A team from the company visited the college to deliver a workshop to students.  

It tasked the students with project managing the development of a theoretical wind farm, through which they could learn about the real-life process.

The tasks ranged from designing the offshore wind farm and necessary onshore transmission infrastructure, taking into account environmental factors and local community views, to generating a viable business case for their proposal. This stimulated Miss Coubrough’s interest in the energy sector.  

From UTCN, she went on to British Airways to begin her apprenticeship in September 2019 and it was all going well until the impact of the pandemic meant her time with the company came to an end.

She reached out to Vattenfall who, knowing of her interest in project management, engaged her to co-ordinate part of the company's role in the Restart Festival. 

Lucy Coubrough at Vattenfall

With the help of the Swedish energy group Vattenfall, 19-year-old Lucy Coubrough's career path is now firmly in place - Credit: VATTENFALL

The festival, organised by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, provided free training, workshops, and spaces to exchange ideas and advice to Norfolk and Suffolk’s businesses after the first Covid-19 lockdown. 

Ms Falch-Lovesey, Vattenfall’s local liaison officer and skills champion, said: "Lucy launched herself into project managing Vattenfall’s input into the Restart Festival and did a wonderful job.  

“She brought together the students' inspiring offer, crafted the Vattenfall elements and professionally hosted the event.  

“Setting up her own business seems to be such a natural step for Lucy and I hope we have an opportunity to work together again.” 

Sophie Skipp, employer engagement co-ordinator at UTCN, added: “Lucy is a great role model for UTCN students and demonstrates how a career path can sometimes take a different route to your initial plans.  

“I am sure that she will be very successful, and that her enthusiasm and professionalism will bring her many clients” 

Miss Coubrough is now looking forward to the future and is already taking on more clients. 

“I am already in advanced discussions with an international energy company about taking on some work with them, which will be my next step.  

“I am also actively searching for other new contracts to take on.” 

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