Credit: Dave Eastbury

'I had the two unhappiest years of my life' - Supergroup's Julian Dunkerton

The fashion firm co-founder wanted to be a doctor but that didn't play to his strengths.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 18 Aug 2016

Name: Julian Dunkerton, co-founder and Product and Brand Director, Supergroup

Age: 50

Which school did you go to? After my parents divorced, my left-leaning father sent me from the private Ibstock Place Primary School to Orleans Park, a state school in Twickenham. Then at 14, I went to the Minster School in rural Herefordshire, which was one of the worst funded education authorities in the country. The skinheads saw me in my winklepickers and beat me up straight away. It was difficult, but it made me very tenacious.

What grades did you get? At O level I got 2 As, 4 Bs and 4 Cs. I then made the fatal mistake of thinking I was going to be a doctor, so I took Physics, Chemistry and Biology at A level. That really wasn’t playing to my strengths. I realised within two weeks that I was doing the wrong subjects, in a school that offered zero careers advice, in a county with zero opportunities. I had the two unhappiest years of my life and ended up with three Es.

How did you handle pre-exam nerves? I was competitive, but bit by bit I started not enjoying having to revise. Anything which required you to think on your feet was fine, but having to sit down and learn by rote wasn’t for me. The human brain is only able to take so much superfluous information. I never use anything I learned apart from English and maths.

What advice would you give to your teenage self? Choose subjects you’re good at rather than imagine what you’re going to be. Don’t be disillusioned if you find the school experience isn’t working for you. I only discovered my work ethic after I left. One of the biggest skills to come out of school is survival, and that will help you in later life.

Return to MT's exams special page to find out how the others did.


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