We’re excited to announce that we’ve just launched a brand new series of events for the WhiteHat community. WhiteHat presents…will showcase the talents and career of special individuals. Every few months we will be bringing our community someone who has worked hard and been successful in their own right — maybe an entrepreneur, maybe someone who forged a successful career without going to uni. It’s a chance to hear how about the journey that they’ve been on and how they got to where they are today; the mistakes they’ve made, the lessons they’ve learned. And a chance for apprentices and candidates to ask questions and network with a glass of wine in hand.

To kick off the series, we welcomed Tom Woolf into WhiteHat HQ to share some of his career highs and lows.

Tom Woolf, Founder and CEO of EdAid

Tom Woolf was born and raised in London, and is an entrepreneur and former professional athlete. His pioneering approach to frontier markets and technology has seen him build successful businesses in the UK, Middle East & Africa. Tom’s commercial grounding was delivering innovative solutions for some of the UK’s leading banks as part of Accenture’s financial services strategy team in London.

In 2011, Thomas partnered with and launched JustGiving, the world’s largest fundraising platform for charities, across the Middle East & Africa. JustGiving has raised over $4.5 Billion for 12,000 charities since 2002.

In 2015, Thomas launched EdAid: an alternative funding platform for students to finance their higher education, interest free. EdAid recently expanded to the US and will provide $150 Million of funding to US students in 2019. EdAid’s sister company Qard Hasan is also the world’s first interest-free Islamic student funding platform and has already worked with over 1000 students.

In his spare time, for fun, Thomas remains a competitive athlete and is Head Coach for Nike in the Middle East.

The audience enjoying an anecdote

Here are a couple of snippets of the discussion we loved best:

I’m just a barista in a coffee shop. What advice have you got for me?

There’s nothing more important than what you are doing right now. Whether you are working in your local cafe or are the most junior person in the office, you are constantly learning and banking that learning for a future date. You could own that cafe, you could become the boss of your office. The opportunities are endless.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Whatever I am doing, I always make sure I make my bed and dress well. It makes me feel good and is always a great start to the day.

What would you say to your younger self?

Go to the gym! Your mental and physical well being are inextricably linked. It’s not about being a size zero or being bulked up, it’s about feeling good. That will set you up for success.

Do you have a set process when it comes to innovation?

It’s all BS! Innovation is all about finding something that someone is doing and doing it for less. If you can help them reduce their costs, they’ll buy it from you.

What advice do you have for people who don’t know what they want to do?

People will say, ‘find something you love and then it will never feel like working’. I say this is rubbish. It’s still work and it will still be trying at times. I say, you are young, use your twenties to learn. My mantra ‘Try-Learn-Fail-Repeat’.

Tom in action

Thanks so much for coming along Tom — it was brilliant to hear what you had to say!