I’ll always say to the parents and kids on open days: “Go to Bournemouth University, it’ll be the best decision that you’ll ever make."
Christian Schneider has always been an entrepreneur. Before coming to BU to study Business Studies with Entrepreneurship he was already self-employed, importing Swedish furniture to the UK for a company called Johannsson.
His drive towards business management continued as he enrolled at BU, graduating in 2011. His time at university was full of learning that would hold him in good stead as he continued with his next business venture.
“I did a module in project management in my second year and I was self-employed before I went to university so it has always been my thing," he explained.
“I did Business Studies with Entrepreneurship at university because I knew that after I was leaving university that I was going to be self-employed. I chose entrepreneurship as a specialist part of it, because I knew that was when you go into business and really value a business; you need to have the drive of entrepreneurship.”
That drive continued post-university as Christian, along with a friend he met at University, set up their own restaurant, Monty’s Lounge, opening in Pokesdown.
"I came back from sabbatical and threw myself into the restaurant. I was on the shop floor every day, getting stuck in and talking to the customers - it is great to have a connection with the customers, and for them to have a relationship with their local restaurant," he said.
The restaurant grew and Christian ended up buying out his business partner to become sole owner. As of last year, Monty’s now has its second site, in Bournemouth town centre - something that has changed the way Christian has had to work.
“Since opening up the second site it hasn’t quite been as feasible to be on the floor every day”, said Christian, “So my role now is as general manager of both sites. I am now just started to get back on the floor. We are slick with how things are running now, everyone knows their job.
“I am front of house and my brother is the kitchen manager, he runs the kitchens and looks after the menu, and I look after staff, payroll and accounts, that sort of thing. I enjoy doing the accounts, and looking at the figures, and forecasting. I did entrepreneurship as a part of my degree and that is what it was all about really. So I really like the business studies side of things.”
Opening a restaurant in Bournemouth wasn’t always Christian’s plan, and he had actually thought he would end up back in his native Denmark: “I’m Danish and I’ve always had these ambitions of moving back over to Denmark, even though I was born in the UK and lived here all my life.”
But the lure of Bournemouth proved too strong for Christian.
“Of all the places to live, Bournemouth is one of the best places to live in the country.," he said.
"I came from Oxfordshire and moved down to Bournemouth to start university, and it was the best decision that I ever made really.”
It is fair to say that Christian never took the most straightforward route in life, and indeed may not have ended up at Bournemouth University, if not for a chance encounter on holiday: “I never thought that I would go to university; it was only because of a guy that I met in New Zealand who was going to Bournemouth!
“I was 23 when I started university, so I was an older student which I felt was great because I got to meet some great people and it was good for me because I had gone through that faze at school of not wanting to study.
"If I had gone to university at the end of sixth form I probably would have quit within six months or failed every exam because I wasn’t in that frame of mind, but once I had worked and had work experience, I applied everything I was learning, and everything I was learning was quite enjoyable.”
But once he had made his decision he never looked back: “Bournemouth University was such a great experience," he remembers.
"To have a good academic time and a good social time, it was a great experience. First of all, I wouldn’t have had these restaurants as I wouldn’t have met my friend James; he was the one who did hospitality, he came to me and said about a partnership, what originally started as a small coffee shop and it turned into a huge place in Pokesdown, and you just throw yourself into the thick of it, the connections that made I still keep in touch with.
"I use a lot of students to work with us and help recycle and reduce our waste.”
Bournemouth University also became a big part of Christian’s life.
“Looking back at the group work with a core group of friends, even with my connections and my friends now on Facebook, there is a big variety of those who I worked with in a group for just the one time and those who I work with on a regular basis, and them being friends. They are the kind of people you can go to for help. Even though I’m no longer at university, I’ve still got these people that I can call upon.”
In fact, Christian has become a big advocate for the university, and the town, he has come to call home.
“Maybe it’s because I am local to the area and I like the fact I can say that I went to university and that Bournemouth is a great university and the teachers and students there are really good people. I’ll always say to the parents and kids on open days 'Go to Bournemouth University, it’ll be the best decision that you’ll ever make.'”