Young fogeys needn't apply

Roger Trapp meets the high-flyers of the Junior Chambers of Commerce

What - other than the title of president - links John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Jacques Chirac? They were all members of Junior Chambers of Commerce.

As the name suggests, these bodies are linked to Chambers of Commerce and Industry. But the people involved in running the junior chambers are at pains to stress that they are not "young fogey" versions of those groups of worthy business people who meet in cities all over the world. Indeed, in the United States the desire to emphasise the distinction between the two bodies has led many to refer to the junior body as the "Jaycees".

The preferred description of the body is "the largest out-of-hours management development organisation in the world". Aimed at business people aged between 18 and 40, the organisation started in the United States in 1915, with the first branch being set up in Britain - in Lincoln - 11 years later. It now has more than 400,000 members in 100 countries around the world.

The London chamber, which held its annual luncheon yesterday, is active in "five areas of opportunity" - individual development and training, management, community involvement, "internationalism" and business. According to Corinna O'Brien-Edge - a past international vice-president, and president of the London junior chamber - the idea is to encourage individuals to take positions away from their workplaces with a view to developing themselves.

This can be done through assisting with community programmes as well as playing a role in the management of the chamber itself. This year's lunch, sponsored by accountants and consultants Arthur Andersen, marks the 10th anniversary of the Prince's Youth Business Trust, to which the London chamber has been an adviser for several years.

The same approach carries over into the other activities - internationalism, or breaking down barriers between different countries, and business, which in effect means networking.

The level of commitment clearly depends on the attitude of the individual's employer. As a partner in a firm of accountants, Ms O'Brien-Edge says she has comparative freedom so long as it does not take up too much of her time. But at some organisations, such as banks, involvement in the chamber is positively encouraged.

Even though the London body has close links with the banking community, part of the value for her has been the fact that fellow members come from a variety of backgrounds.

"I'd honestly say I've got to the position I'm in through the junior chamber," says Ms O'Brien-Edge. It helped in her self-development by increasing her ability to deal with management responsibilities as well as providing business contacts.

Simon Sperryn, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is chief sponsor of the London junior chamber, sees enormous value in the body. "Companies and individuals use it to grow themselves," he says, adding that employers should make greater use of the body "for broadening the skills and experience of the top managers of tomorrow".

Nor is membership necessarily constrained by the age limit. Ms O'Brien- Edge, who says she is moving towards the upper end of the range, points out that life membership is available.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Junior Web Developer

£18 - 22k (DOE) + Benefits & Stock Options: Guru Careers: Junior Developer / J...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Structural Engineer

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Structural Engineer ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Sales Executive

£18 - 24k OTE + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Executive ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?