Part 1 of a series of articles that span my 30+ career
Welcome to my short series of articles on the life of an average student, that became a successful professional in the world of technology.
In this series of articles, I will not be giving advice, but instead I will share my story, how I overcame obstacles, how I embraced diversity and cultures, but also how I remained grounded and how the very few companies I have worked for, each helped me grow. My objective for sharing, is to hopefully help others that are maybe at a crossroads in their careers/lives, or even just starting out and unsure of which direction to move in.
In the blink of an eye, here I am – 30+ years later and now planning for my retirement.
So many cliché sayings about getting older – “With age comes wisdom” or “Age is like a fine wine – it gets better as it matures”.
For those in the same situation, I am sure you get it!
For those who haven’t yet got a decade under your belt – hold onto your hat for the ride of a lifetime!
My story is likely no different to many people – I was an average student at school – I did well in languages and the arts – I was terrible at science and math – although I have a pretty good memory and I memorized the periodic table for a chemistry test – the only test I ever got 100%.
I actually wanted to join the WRAF (Women’s Royal Airforce) when I left school, however when I got to the enrollment center, I was turned away – because I was too short! This was a huge setback to me – my life went into a mini spiral for a while.
My grandad was my hero and he told me I was better and stronger and a survivor – just like he was…he survived WWII and Burma (He was a Chindit) – he had these amazing medals – I was so proud of him and I wanted him to be proud of me – how could he be now, now that I was turned down from pursuing my desired career in the armed forces – following in his and my dad’s footsteps?
At 16 years old – I already felt I was a failure. However, I soon picked myself up (thanks to my dad and my grandad). I knew through my upbringing, that hard work (whatever type, will be rewarded). I am a Saturday child after all so hard work is my destiny!
I still did not know what I wanted to do – I did what many 16 year old’s did and applied at Tesco. I pestered them for about 3 months, until I finally got an interview. Finally I got a “Checkout Girl” job, just part time (started 16 hours per week, as I was going to start college too). Within a couple of months, I was now working in the office as the receptionist and “tannoy announcer” – yes that was me! “Customer Announcement….”.
College was sandwiched in between this – but it just wasn’t for me…I struggled from day one! By time the exams were due, I already knew I would not be going back. I left Tesco and ambled along working in a few different places via temporary agencies. Before I had left Tesco, they had trained me in a few areas, such as using the PBX phone systems, and how to talk to people on the phone (as well as the standard skills for cashier work).
Now this was 1982/83 and the type of agencies at that time were not like they are today! I had various jobs of various lengths of time, some were receptionist type work, some were in warehouses – nothing was out of my realm…. I was gaining experience (although I didn’t know it back then!).
Then in 1984 I got a 2-week temporary job as a receptionist at a small Plumbing company in Alcester (Warwickshire). I did such a good job – they took me on full time – I worked with the plumbing team on estimates and other activities, such as catalogue research for products, and negotiating pricing – bear in mind, we didn’t have computers. One thing I haven’t mentioned – whilst at school (around age 12/13), my dad paid for me to take a typewriting course “William Scheiddeger” typing school – one of the best things I ever did in those formative years – it has definitely been something that got me “in the door” to those early jobs, before my career actually took off!
Next up in the series will be how my career really got started!