What do you currently do?
I am the Executive Chair of the National Apprenticeship Service. The National Apprenticeship Service is responsible for all elements of Apprenticeships in England.
We work to increase the number of apprentices in businesses by talking to employers about the benefits of employing an apprentice and ensuring young people have the information they need to consider an Apprenticeship as the route into their career.
We also celebrate commitment to Apprenticeships through the annual National Apprenticeship Awards and get the whole country excited about Apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship Week in February.
Who is your inspiration in business?
Someone who inspired me was Roger De Haan when I worked for Saga. He owned the company which meant he could take a really long term view of his business and was strict about always doing the right thing for our customers.
Whom do you admire?
I recently presented at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2010. The young people and employers I met there were tremendously inspiring and I admire their commitment and dedication to developing training opportunities. I admire the apprentice winners most of all.
Each have unique and special stories, such as Apprentice of the Year, Holly Manley, who is pictured above with me on the left accompanied by Nigel Snook from sponsors EDI), who left school with few qualifications, but has gone on to excel through her Apprenticeship with Superdrug.
Holly was able to apply herself in a practical environment and is now a Store Manager and training new apprentices as part of her role. I challenge anyone not to be inspired by our three winning apprentices.
Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I would not necessarily do anything differently but I have learnt that I am more emotionally driven than many others in business and this can make me impulsive. Now I recognise I have this trait I’ve really learnt to look before I leap!
What defines your way of doing business?
I love a good business plan! I want myself and my staff to be continuously reminded of the overall goals for the business so no-one can get sidetracked. A business is set up for a reason and that reason needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind in order to be successful.
What advice would you give?
The advice I would give to those starting out in business now, such as Apprentices in Business Administration, would be to always focus on the core objective or outcome. Don’t get distracted by office politics – or rival companies. Focus on the objectives you’ve set and work to deliver them.