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Open Study College bosses discuss embracing ambition on family business podcast

open study college family

Open Study College’s Samantha Rutter-Bryant, co-founder and CEO, and her sister Shawna Baker, Director, recently joined Leila and Liza Willingham, the mother-daughter duo behind the podcast It Runs In The Family to discuss the learning curves and outcomes of their journey.

Having founded Open Study College with her father, Mark, in 2007 from the family home, Samantha and Mark inspired by his background in education. Combining their skills in business and hospitality, along with their shared passion for providing people with opportunities, Open Study College have now helped over 110,000 people achieve their goals.

Podcast host Leila Willingham says: “It’s clear that the family relationship has created strength in their business. They’re happy to admit their frustrations, each other’s strengths and weaknesses, completely appreciate their differences, and importantly embrace them. They’ve been able to support each other through real highs and real lows of the business.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the family experienced hardship when their brother passed away, and their father had to step back from operations due to a cancer diagnosis. Samantha and Shawna continued to lead the business forward as CEO and Director and embrace a focus on wellbeing within the company. This enabled the sisters to learn and adapt from hard times and take the business from strength to strength.

Co-host Liz Willingham adds: “It’s fascinating to hear about the online learning sector and how our society has adapted very naturally to this way of studying, largely thanks to the pandemic. Samantha and Shawna will warm listener’s hearts when they hear their mutual respect and love for each other. They celebrate their uniqueness yet have a shared compassion for their relationship as well as the business.”

On her first podcast experience, Shawna said: “We were excited to have the opportunity to take part in the podcast and we really enjoyed it. I think sometimes we forget how unique it is to all work together, so talking it through with Liz and Leila and discussing our dynamic and the logistics of it all, really made us sit back and appreciate how special it is. Although it does occasionally bring its challenges in separating work and family life, ultimately, we’re very lucky to all have that support, trust, and respect in each other in both aspects.”

In the episode, Samantha and Shawna discuss how they are looking to the future, with an aim of doubling learner numbers and expanding its reach to overseas students with online and adaptive learning.

You can listen to Samantha and Shawna’s episode of It Runs In The Family podcast on Spotify, Apple, Google, or Amazon.

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