What are you doing now?
Personally, I’m living the rural idyll in Wiltshire with my wife Laura, three young children, and expanding menagerie. Career wise, I’m a VAT specialist (VAT being the tax that is included in the stuff we buy – I think VAT on pasties was big news in Plymouth/Cornwall a couple of years back), advising charities and global businesses on how to get their VAT right. Sounds dull, I know, but I’ve worked with some great people, it’s intellectually stimulating and I’ve travelled loads (20 countries over the last few years). And, bottom line, it pays pretty well too.
What route did you take up to this point?
After DHSB, I studied Classics (Latin, Greek, Philosophy and Ancient History) at Keble College, Oxford. Back then, there was an entrance exam for Oxford, which meant that I had an EE offer in the bag before Christmas of my A level year. I enjoyed myself massively at college (and also appeared on University Challenge), left with my 2:1 and no idea what to do next.
I applied for a random job I saw advertised with one of the big accountancy firms in London – completely clueless but 18 years later, it worked out just fine. I was lucky as my academic record opened a door; I suspect nowadays that employers expect school and university leavers to have a host of experiences which demonstrate their employability.
Any significant crossroads?
Leaving Plymouth – I love Plymouth but there’s so much else out there for you to look forward to!
What have you learnt most about yourself?
That I’m a realist. This is a good thing so I can be happy with who I am and not to worry about things I can’t affect.
What words of wisdom would you give to a student joining DHSB in Year 7?
Be interested in everything and everyone; take a deep breath; don’t take yourself too seriously; be the good guy. When it comes to it, do try to learn and get your grades – it represents your best (but not only) chance to rise above others in later life. DHSB looks amazing today, there’s so much going on and so many facilities – makes me feel very old. Read a decent newspaper, watch the news, be interested in the wider world – it will stand you in great stead.
And for a Sixth Former leaving DHSB?
Leave Plymouth, enjoy university, do everything and get as many experiences as you can, while you can, say ‘yes’ to as much as you can – you’ll be working for an awful long time, so enjoy your relative freedom.
Continue to be interested in everything and everyone – this, combined with getting a wealth of experiences, will help make you a bright, rounded person. Bright, rounded people tend to get on in life.
Don’t stress too much now re careers – there are a 1000 careers out there you’ve never heard of.
Aim high, be idealistic and really strive to do what you want – the world needs dreamers and strivers and if you can do something that really makes a difference, well, that’s truly brilliant. For most of us, realism sets in, we do jobs because we have to – go with it, enjoy your life!
Any fond memories of school you can share?
Latin lessons out on the grass when the sun shone, surreptitiously listening to cricket commentary on the radio. Happy days.
Getting into Oxford was an extremely proud moment and I’m genuinely proud that my name will be up on the DHSB Honours Board for many school generations to come.
Do you have a message for any of your teachers?
To Mr MacLeod – you were a great Sixth Form tutor – I loved our gently sarcastic exchanges.