It has been a great privilege to be Vice-Provost (Enterprise) at UCL and inevitably as I pack my bags to make the long trip from Gordon Street to the Wellcome Trust on Euston Road, I have been reflecting on the last five years. So much has changed and so much has been achieved by UCL.
The Sound of Dreams
5 March 2012
UCL Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture: Francis Seriau, Educator, Music Entrepreneur, Musician
Francis Seriau had a band when it was cool to have a band; he’s an entrepreneur when it’s cool to be an entrepreneur. Francis started off with a dream: rock and roll.
Born in Switzerland, not the best place for a rock and roll career, he made music out of pots, pans, anything he could find. He understood it was time to leave when he felt “the need to become a drummer”: it was not a whim, not one of his various possibilities. Francis’ drums were, for him, the only option.
Francis moved to London at the age of 17 and began playing at gigs quite quickly. Within a few years he was already working as a professional and was soon asked for private lessons. His “students” however, were not merely beginners; popular and already established musicians –Dire Straits, for instance- looked at Francis for tips and advice. At the time, he was 24. Then, Francis’ entrepreneurial experience happened: he opened a music school. At first, this was just a studio which name he preferred to keep low-key. By the late 80s however, the studio called for structure and organisation, and Francis turned his private activity in a little business. If one one hand his personal career inevitably suffered from this, on the other the school can now call itself successful. In 2010 it was voted the 1st in the UK for teaching music and counted about 1000 students from about fifty different countries. It was the first contemporary music school to be set up in the UK. It aimed to give musicians from all different backgrounds access to music and the opportunity to make a career out of it.
Dreaming and Living
Soon, Francis’ school began to be used as a resource from the music industry: “people came to us to learn skills, others to find talent”. Francis’ school is an example of how creativity and business meet and marry. It shows how diverse and original a musical career can be and become, how passion and realism can coexist. Francis stresses the necessity of having both “hard skills and soft skills” at the same time, in your life and job. Knowing one’s business and being the best at it must be completed by one’s communication, attitude, the so called social skills. When faced with the fact of the on-going crisis in the music world, Francis shows optimism: there is always space for people who are good. They just have to know where to fit and to fit in well, he concludes. Francis is both an artist and a business man. The greatest lesson to learn from him is how to dream and live at the same time.
Written by Carolina Mostert, UCL 2nd year student studying Classics