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Tom Kershaw

What are you doing now?

I am currently working as a Senior Education Market Specialist for IRIS Software group. In short, I make sure that the software that we make for schools and trusts aligns to the actual needs of the education sector.

What route did you take up to this point?

After university, I completed a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology. Whilst this was enjoyable, I didn’t feel that my future lay in academic research, since it was rather a slow burn, and I felt like I needed tangible daily rewards. I tried accountancy for a year, working in audit for KPMG, but whilst they were a fantastic company that offered great opportunities, I didn’t find the nature of the work fulfilling, and through discussion with some of my old DHSB friends who had entered teaching, I decided to give that a go. That was an excellent move, and I spent the next 11 years teaching in London and then in Devon, ultimately leading a very large Sixth Form, which I really enjoyed.

More recently, I switched out of teaching, but have kept within education, working for a very large software company that makes tech solutions for education. I can reach a far wider audience than in my own classroom or Sixth Form.

Any significant crossroads?

Yes, making the decision to leave accountancy after a year. It wasn’t right for me, but this was the first moment in my life where I felt like a failure for not seeing something through. However, having made the switch, I realised that fulfilment in my day job was a far better source of a feeling of success, and that I could be proud of taking the decision to switch.

What have you learnt most about yourself?

I definitely need to feel like I am making a difference in my day job. Some may see a job as a means to an end, making money to support their family and hobbies in their spare time, and this is absolutely fine if you have that mindset. However, for me, eight hours a day is a long time to not feel fulfilled, and I need to be doing a job that I enjoy.

What words of wisdom would you give to a student joining DHSB in Year 7?

Academic success is very important, but ultimately, when you get out there in the real world, your ability to communicate and cooperate well with others is just as important. Take extra-curricular opportunities to work in a team and genuinely develop this skill – it will stand you in good stead in the long run!

And for a Sixth Former leaving DHSB?

It’s an increasingly tech-centred world out there. Make sure that whatever you want to do in life, you have at least a working knowledge of the latest technological developments. You don’t need to know programming languages and be able to write code to design fancy apps, but it’s apparent how the likes of AI are going to revolutionise the way we work, so at least have a basic idea of the way this works and how to apply it to your benefit.

Any fond memories of school you can share?

Loads! My highlight was quoting S Club 7 in my School Captain’s speech at Speech Day. I appreciate that it’s been so long that younger readers may have to Google these titans of the late 90’s music industry!

Do you have a message for any of your teachers?

Many of my teachers were so influential, but I’d always give a massive shout out to Mr Manley. Many thought he was tough on us, but I genuinely think that the high standards and attention to detail he instilled in me have carried me through to where I am today. And I enjoy seeing his current activities in Australia on Facebook!

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