Joe Taylor has earned the highest mark in the country in the Young Enterprise exam. Photo: Kate Russell.

Business whizz downs tools


When 17-year-old Joe Taylor left school last month to become a plumbing apprentice, he didn’t expect to hear that he’d topped the country in one of his school exams.

The former Nayland College student’s mark of 94 per cent in the Young Enterprise exam, which he sat earlier in the year, was the best in the country out of 3500 candidates.

Joe says he’s never hugely been into the academic stuff – but now he’s dropped the plumbing tools and is setting his sights on a business degree.

He received the news at the Young Enterprise Scheme Regional Awards on 27 October and will go on to receive a Massey Business School Young Entrepreneur Scholar Award at a ceremony on 6 December.

With it, he gets a cash prize of $1000 as well as a $3000 scholarship to the Massey Business School in Wellington, which he is “definitely” planning to use.

“It was a surreal feeling,” says Joe. “I would have been happy with 50 percent, but when I was told I got 94 per cent, I was like ‘no way, I wouldn’t get that’.”

He says that when he finished the three-hour exam, he didn’t even know if he had “done it right”.

“I guess I’m just better with subjects like business and English. I just write my way through stuff, so as soon as I got into the flow of writing, it was pretty easy and I kept going.”

The Young Enterprise Scheme is an experiential programme where students set up and run a real business, with an exam at the end that critiques another product.

Joe’s product was all natural, pre-workout product – which is fitting, given that he’s not just a business whizz, but a natural on the rugby field, too.

Joe moved to Nelson from the West Coast last year to play rugby and he is currently training with the Tasman men’s 7’s team.

He has also played for the Tasman under-18s, the Marist 7’s team, Waimea Combined and the Nelson College first XV before moving to Nayland College.

Joe says he’ll have a “gap year” in 2018 to play rugby and earn some money, and then head up to Wellington the following year to start his business degree and continue with the sport.

This is Nayland College’s third time in nine years to get the top scholar in this particular exam, and this year all 19 students in the class passed, with four getting excellences.