Meet the Chairman

Date: November 28, 2018

As FI’s first year with our new Chairman, Martin Taylor, draws to a close, we asked Martin to reveal his best career advice, and to share his thoughts on the direction FI will take in the near future.

 

If you had asked me what I thought I would be doing for a job when I left Portsmouth University in 1993, I wouldn’t have had a clue! Having left with a first in Business Studies I applied for a variety of roles around the UK. It was at a time when demand for jobs was much higher than the number of jobs available. I secured a job on a graduate trainee scheme at Motorola in sunny Swindon as a trainee accountant on the huge salary of £13,000 pa.

Find roles you will learn from

I really didn’t want to fall into another analyst role, and so opted for something very different. I had delivered some internal training at Motorola and loved it, and so I applied for a tutor role at BPP in London. Whilst I took a pay cut for the tutor role, it is much more important to me to find roles that I will learn from and find new experiences – another unconscious motivation that I feel has massively helped my career.

Over 18 years at BPP I had the opportunity to teach across the UK and in Europe, to develop and build client relationships, to lead on major tenders and for the last 8 years I was responsible for the accountancy and tax business in the UK. There came a point in the last couple of years when I realised that I had “lost my mojo” – I was having to spend so much time preparing budgets, justifying P&L accounts and making investment cases – it stopped being fun.

 

Another critical career lesson – whilst work is fun it isn’t work, it is a hobby. When it stops being fun it is time to do something about it.

Education is a service, not a product

I left BPP in 2017 and had no plans to join First Intuition (FI). Many colleagues from BPP had left to join FI over the last 10 years, to set up study centres, to teach or to work in service teams.

The more I talked to FI, the more excited I became about the opportunity to support a passionate and experienced team to grow the business over the next 10 years.

What I have found over the last 11 months is an education company that is absolutely obsessed with delivering a great service. Tutors will give up their own time to help students, service teams will answer questions at weekends to help both students and clients; it is a unique culture. I share this passion that education is a service, not a product. It is delivered by people to people and therefore creating relationships that last are critical to this.

As always there are things we can improve upon, but for me the biggest thing is letting more people know about FI – it is a bit like a hidden gem at the moment!  As we grow, we need to ensure we keep our personalised service focus as it really is critical to giving our students and clients confidence that we have their best interests at heart.

Critical career coaching advice

  • Every experience is a good experience– you learn more from trying and failing than never trying in the first place – give it a go, get involved, put your hand up, ask for help, but always, always learn
  • Never map out a career path longer than 2-3 years– you will miss out on opportunities right in front of you Constantly reassess what you enjoy – enjoying your role is the goal – if you do it well it will lead to financial rewards
  • Don’t just “keep busy”– it is easy to say you haven’t got time because of xyz. Constantly review what you do, what your team does, can things be made easier, done less frequently, or automated so that you can focus on the more interesting things. Look forward to change and embrace it
  • Build relationships, internally and externally – with everyone! You never know when you are going to need a favour! (never rely on just your position to get things done)

Solve problems

Finally, successful employees and successful companies have one thing in common – they solve problems. You have got to love finding problems, love being honest enough to discuss them and be creative enough to solve them.

 

Martin Taylor, Chairman