Back then I was clueless.com but at least I wasn’t alone. None of my friends knew what they wanted to be, and why would we? We’d never been told how the subjects that we were studying linked to the real world. How the skills that we were developing might help us to decide. What the world of work might be like. The only advice given to us back then was based on answers we’d punched into a computer. My future career prospects at the time? To become a florist or a lawyer, and whilst I might be able to form a logical argument and defend my own opinions, I most certainly can’t arrange a bunch of flowers!
So, how did I get to where I am today? I used to shrug my shoulders and say ‘I don’t know’ but when I look back at my career to date – two years as a secondary school teacher, another two recruiting and helping to train other teachers, six months helping young people develop their employability skills and finally almost eight years promoting apprenticeship opportunities at one of the biggest professional services firms in the world – I can now see a clear focus on asking our young people about what information they need to help them make those important decisions about ‘where next?’
The problem is that we are failing to listen, and not just to those considered ‘future talent’ - but to those who have already transitioned from education into the world of work. When we listen, we understand. And we when understand, we build trust and encourage others to be their authentic selves, and to start to develop a sense of belonging in an environment where their individual talents are recognised, and valued based on the contributions made, rather than what they look like, who they sleep with or where they grew up as a criteria for getting their first step onto the career ladder.
That’s why inclusion comes first.
And that’s why I founded The Branding Man.
Read more about my own journey from clueless teenager to entrepreneur.
Hear more about my story in episode one of the My Career Story podcast
Read more about the inspiration behind The Branding Man.
In my career to date I have been incredibly fortunate to work with some outstanding early career professionals, creating campaigns which have been repeatedly recognised by the student recruitment community:
Best Apprenticeship Campaign: EY - RAD Awards 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019
Best Apprenticeship, Graduate and Early Careers Website: EY - RAD Awards 2019
Most Innovative Recruitment Campaign: EY - All About School Leaver Awards 2014, 2017, 2018
Best School Leaver Attraction Strategy: EY - ISE Student Recruitment Awards 2014, 2015, 2017
Best School Leaver Programme: EY - TARGETjobs Awards 2017, Shortlisted in 2019
Top Employer for School Leavers: EY - RateMyApprenticeship Awards 2016
As a gay man who identifies with the LGBT community, I am all too aware of the lack of empathy towards differences ‘to the norm’ when it comes to sexuality in societies around the world. Until I came out publicly for the first time - and I say first because from experience when it comes to sexuality it’s rare that you have to do this once - I had been hiding a huge part of myself from the world.
Two of the most painful years which led to me claiming back this part of my identity were spent teaching. Every day I pretended to be someone else for fear of rejection. It’s my one regret in life that I didn’t use that time to stand proud and become a role model for young people struggling to understand the way that they were feeling about themselves.
That’s why I now volunteer with the amazing charity Diversity Role Models, visiting schools in and around London supporting the delivery of their workshops which aim to create safe spaces where young people can explore difference and consider their role in creating a world where we all feel accepted. A world where we are all included, first.
It’s also why I’ve decided to show my further support of this great charity by running on their behalf in this year’s Royal Parks Half Marathon - my first half marathon in ten years!