So maybe it’s time I shared a bit more about my, where I started and how I got here?
My School & College Years
So I left school at 16 with a passion for Interior Design. Although I was intrinsically academic I just didn’t enjoy it. I scraped by in my GCSEs with mediocre grades although I was in top set and predicted As for pretty much everything. But I did zero revision. I didn’t need to and I knew it.
I didn’t have any aspirations of going to university, no one in my family had been and I was brought up to do what I truly loved and enjoyed. I just hadn’t found out what that was yet.
Which is something to be thankful for – my parents didn’t try to pigeon hold me into something I didn’t want to do. I was rebellious enough as it was so they probably knew better!
This was a time when home makeover shows were rife on TV! I loved to draw and create and it fed into all of that for me. So Interior Design it was. I hadn’t done an Art GCSE as I was shy about people scrutinising my work. My Art teacher was mortified that I hadn’t decided to go ahead with Art. Probably one of my biggest regrets. But I prepared a portfolio of drawings for the college and they accepted me onto the Interior Design course.
College however was not what I had expected. It was just a bigger version of school. Teachers who looked like they just didn’t want to be there and who treated us like children. In my mind I was an adult and I never felt I got that sort of respect, so the rebellion kicked in, I started to miss lessons, and decided that to be treated like an adult, I needed to go into the big wide world and get a job.
My First Office Job
I came across a training company who were offering NVQs and job placements, much like an apprenticeship now. I joined up and started an NVQ in Business Admin as well as a myriad of touch-typing exams. They set me up with a few interviews and I was lucky enough to get one at a local Law Firm.
I clearly remember having to take out my eyebrow piercing for the interview and being super annoyed that I couldn’t get it back in again after!
I remember that interview like it was yesterday. Etched in my mind. Sat in the room that was the Library it looked so grand to me back then. Traditional law books covered the walls and I truly wondered if I was in the right place. I don’t remember much about what I said that day, but I must have said something right as I got the job.
I learned so many lessons those first few years at work.
Having grown up on a council estate, and spending my teenage years being super close to getting myself into a lot of trouble, it’s fair to say that a lot of the people I was now spending every day with had lived a very different life to me! But it was exactly where I needed to be. I learned when to keep my mouth shut (something I had struggled with) and my thirst for knowledge grew and grew.
Study study and study some more
I never stopped learning.
As soon as I finished the NVQ in Business Admin I went on to study IT. Then I completed an A Level in Law and toyed with the idea of becoming a Legal Executive or a Paralegal. But my love was in learning more about how businesses operated and everything marketing. So I went on to do a HNC in Business and Finance and made my parents proud by donning a cap and gown for a Graduation Ceremony at the Cathedral.
A vacancy came up in the Marketing Department and I leapt at it. I’d not long had my son and I had been waiting for the chance to get involved in the marketing side and put into place everything I had learned on my HNC. It tapped into my creative problem solving nature. I had an amazing few years organising events and working directly with the Senior Partner and CEO.
Sadly however the role was evolving into a full time position and I just knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do it if I wanted to spend time with my son, so when things started to ramp up after a few years, and without a job to go to, I left to decide on what my next options were. I couldn’t be at home twiddling my fingers so I started a degree in Graphic Design and completed the first level.
Trying to balance work and family life
I was lucky over the next few years to find roles that involved managing offices but on a part time basis to fit in with school hours. But my son struggled in the holidays to fit into child care settings – I thought that there MUST be a solution out there somewhere! Something I’m super passionate about now is helping fellow mums in business enjoy that work and family balance. We CAN have it all.
That was when I happened across the role of a Virtual Assistant. It sounded perfect! I started up part time while I was working to try and build it up. My love of interior design never left as I also had a little shop unit in a local antique centre.
Eventually I made the decision that If I was going to do this right, I had to go all in and get rid of the other distractions. As soon as that decision was made, and I dropped everything else, everything flowed. The clients came, the business evolved.
The love of learning has never left. I invest heavily in myself and my learning. I know that my hunger to learn is what drives me every single day. I have invested in a Mentor and Coach. And I’m studying a level 6 qualification in digital marketing to complement what I already know and to really add value to my online client’s businesses.
I look back and I can’t believe how far I have come – from leaving school at 16 to working for myself and earning an income on my own terms.
I don’t come from a family of university graduates and a lot of what I had when I was young was second hand. We didn’t have much but we were also super grateful for what we did have as I regularly saw people who were a lot worse off than me.
When I was young my dad was working in a tray making factory. He recently managed to retire early as a HR Director for a multi-national Company. I guess that’s where my love of learning comes from, he never stopped working and learning and striving for more. Despite having an accident at the age of 20, and completing loosing the use of his left arm – it has never held him back, despite the intense pain he still experiences every single day. My mum was diagnosed with Dyslexia as an adult and faced many challenges, but she still had an amazing career and never gave up. My parents always told us we were capable of anything and encouraged us to do what we loved.
I guess at the end of the day, It doesn’t matter how you get there, what matters is that you keep trying.