What are you doing now?
I work for BPP University of Professional Studies, the UK’s first for-profit university. I am part of the professional qualification division where we prepare working adults for examinations set by professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and many more. I am director of distance and tailored learning for students based outside the UK. I arrange for students to have access to online teaching for their exams, make sure that they have the books that they need and if their employers organise face-to-face courses for them, I arrange the deployment of tutors to anywhere around the world to teach the students. I also teach business strategy, auditing, corporate governance, risk management and international financial reporting.
What route did you take up to this point?
After leaving DHSB in 1989 I went to the University of Glasgow where I read Mathematics and Classical Civilisation for a joint masters degree. On completion I returned to Plymouth working for Coopers & Lybrand, which after a merger became PricewaterhouseCoopers, currently the second largest accounting firm in the world based on fee income. I spent three years as an auditor while studying for my exams to join the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICEAW). After successfully passing all 15 exams and qualifying as a chartered accountant I started to take advantage of working for an international firm by working in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This was followed by working in Kazakhstan and then Umtata in South Africa. All were amazing in their own ways. I then returned to Plymouth and worked as financial controller for VI-Spring, the luxury bed maker, whose financial controller was on maternity leave. I left PwC to join BPP in Slovakia in 2000. I started in a teaching role but in a small office I had to help with a variety of roles including setting up the IT network, selling to customers and office maintenance. I progressed to head up BPP’s operation in Slovenia and then Bulgaria and then became responsible for any country where BPP does not have a physical campus. In my career so far I have worked in five continents and taught in over 30 countries.
Any significant crossroads?
In 2011, having lived and worked in Eastern Europe for over ten years, I had to decide whether to continue living there or whether to return to the UK. I had married a Slovakian woman and had two children. Moving the whole family to the UK would be difficult but I needed to consider the children’s education and the potential opportunities for them in the future.
What have you learnt most about yourself?
I was ambitious when I left university but I quickly discovered that life has so many more things to offer. I work to live rather than live to work.
What words of wisdom would you give to a student joining DHSB in Year 7?
Work hard. Get involved in as many things as you can. Volunteer.
And for a Sixth Former leaving DHSB?
You will leave school with high literacy and numeracy but employers are looking for more. Be curious about things. Read a good quality newspaper to help you understand context and why people do the things they do. This will help with your commercial awareness. Be able to analyse a problem, make a predictive judgement about it and take action. Be able to manage yourself and your work remotely to deliver on time, within budget and to a good standard. Be agile so that you can adapt to change quickly. Be able to work in a team. Make sure that you can talk confidently in front of others. Have resilience – you will experience many rejections and failures but you must rise to try again. Do not forget prorsum semper honeste. Following the spirit of the rules and working diligently will help to differentiate you from other people.
Any fond memories of school you can share?
Laying on the grass at the bottom of the bank, relaxing during the summer. Discovering the beauty and challenge of Mathematics. Practising the school song before speech day.
Do you have a message for any of your teachers?
I was always good at maths but studying a numerical and a wordy subject gave me skills and a balance that has helped me ever since. Thanks to all the teachers for building my confidence and preparing me for the next stage in my life.