Updated: Aug 25, 2022
Originally Published on July 11, 2020 Edited 24th Aug 2022
I have been toying with what values I have to share with you. The likelihood is that I am, much like many of you, working hard to progress and see what difference we can make in this world. Be that difference big or small.
Opportunities can be seen as an advantage that only some people manage to get and even fewer manage to take. There's some truth to that; look at the schools that have produced the majority of prime ministers. They are also something that different people view opportunities differently; how you view them is often the difference between something great and nothing at all.
Not every opportunity works out or is even a good one, but I genuinely believe that if you don't look for them, they won’t appear, and if you wait for the right one, it may never come. I seek opportunities wherever I can by learning what others do and seeing if I have something to help.
Being in the right place at the right time is often something that people associate with luck. Usually, it’s not luck; instead, people who are granted or find opportunities have the skills and mindset to step up and take them. You also find one opportunity will lead to another.
I am a lover of football (Soccer to my American friends), and I have always been an admirer of strikers' ability to take their chances and score. They may get hundreds of opportunities over a season, and a good striker in a good team might reach 30 goals in a season. But not even one of my favourite strikers, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, would score that many in a team, creating so few chances, regardless of how good he took them. There is only so much you can do on your own. You will always need people to be able to get opportunities.
I owe so much to all of the people in my life that have given me opportunities or have aided in me being able to take them. I have an inspirational wife that puts up with my long hours and constant talking to be able to grow my career. In turn, I do all I can to support her and my two daughters Evelyn & Ada-Marie and give them the tools to do the best they can. I hope I have repaid their faith and will work even harder to validate their belief in me.
My career started when I was 16; I dropped out of sixth form (asked not to come back, if we are being more precise). I was offered an interview in the post room of Allianz, where my Mum works. I took that chance, researched the company did well at the interview; I got the job and stayed for a summer. It was a great introduction to working life; I got to see how a big organisation ran (as much as possible from a post room anyway), met many people and realised what I didn't want to do. I had no idea at that point what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I didn't want to work in a post room again.
I then worked several agency jobs - at one stage, I worked four different jobs as a cleaner, working in warehouses, painting and customer support in the evenings at once, all in a single day to make sure I paid rent. Luckily this didn't last long.
Through the agency, I landed a full-time permanent role as a collections agent; I enjoyed this at first. I was taken to learn from some teams in Crawley away from home for six weeks. I learned to be around people older who were more experienced and better than me at our job. I worked here for around 15 months, hitting targets and trying to progress. As it turns out, progression took me away from Collections and into the world of Healthcare. I was eager to learn and hopefully help people. I had a great 14 months as an agent on NHS Direct and was allowed to train people!
At 19, I was training people and coaching them on how to talk on the phone. Without realising, I was giving some people the opportunity to do work they loved and cared about. Some people there have gone on to do excellent jobs within the NHS and have likely done things that will make my career and life seem insignificant. They showed me so much that I have transferred to my career post there. I learned compassion and hard work and needed to find something I truly cared about. I would never have known these and progressed had I not been given and taken the opportunity. Despite all this, I really couldn't see myself moving into the NHS; I couldn't see myself progressing on the phone either.
Enter Luke. He was a manager of an Accounts Receivables, Payments Team in Stevenage at TalkTalk. He had an opening in his team; I saw this as a great opportunity. It was a progression from what I had been doing; it was also great to be off the phone! Again, I researched, studied hard for the interview, and though it certainly would have helped that I knew him, I wasn’t going to allow him to hire anyone else.
I was hired.
I knew that people would have been suspicious of me knowing him, so I worked hard, learned quickly, and discovered I actually enjoy learning and can do so very fast. I made sure to be as good as possible and take on more responsibility. I didn’t want to have the stigma associated with that link. By the time TalkTalk came to close the Stevenage Office around two years later, I was an integral part of the team.
Most people are more intelligent than they give themselves credit for and more talented than they let on.
Once the office was closed, I was asked to apply for a role in a team in London, but I wasn’t keen on the job as I felt I would outgrow that role quickly and it would not offer the experience I wanted. I turned that down and instead applied for a position above the grade people expected me to be at. It was the first opportunity I made for myself, and I got it. It was needed; I stepped out and managed to stand independently. I spent another 18 months in that role whilst looking after and learning about things I didn't even know existed before.
My following change was to step up to become a manager at 8x8. I started with a team of two looking after billing and quickly looked to grow the team after expanding my role, - I'm not one to stay in my lane - With that additional responsibility and workload, I was looking for people like myself, people who were hungry for progression. Still, I perhaps hadn’t found it where they were at the time.
Alec & Nicola were very supportive and allowed me to grow the team spanning three locations in two countries. I managed to help bring in numerous people from different backgrounds, ages and skill sets. Having a diverse group of people helped me and everyone else have the opportunity to learn, build other areas of expertise and ensure we were able to become a solid and successful part of a growing organisation. I progressed into a Revenue Operations role via Business Applications. An area I still find myself in today.
I ensured that people were hired with progression and future opportunities in mind. I believe that people can surprise themselves when you give them the right chances. Most people are more intelligent than they give themselves credit for and more talented than they let on. The key to leadership is finding what makes people tick and then positioning opportunities for them.
I have been extremely fortunate in my life, I have been handed many challenges, but I have always seen these as something to attempt to overcome and progress. My family gave me many opportunities that others I know haven't had. I was allowed to learn and express myself through sports, education and travel. I was given a great chance at the start of my career; without that, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s not always been easy; I have failed loads and will continue to do so; failure is not to be feared; it is to be embraced, learned from and brought with you to the next chance to do it differently.
Life is built on chances; what are our chances of success without doors being opened, even partially? So make sure we open doors for others and pull them through, use the privilege or platform we have, however small, and use it to improve the chances of others in any way you can.
Just remember to take your chances, keep an open mind and be brave. The next opportunityis around the corner!
If you ever fancy a chat or have a project that you need some help with or anything else, feel free to book some time!