Having enjoyed teaching in South Korea in 2013, a career as a teacher seemed an attractive prospect. Yet I had spent the last 16 years in education and thought entering the world of business after university would provide a new challenge. The opportunity to work with entrepreneurs seeking to address significant global issues using innovative technologies was enough to persuade me to apply to RIG.
So, the summer before last I was sat in the RIG meeting room giving a presentation to four partners of the company on anti-counterfeiting technologies in the high-end luxury goods market. This was my final round interview for a job starting in September 2014. The presentation was full of interesting debate and some fiery objections. But it was the final question which particularly stumped me: “Do you have any other plans or offers?”
Earlier that week I had been offered a place as a volunteer teacher in Sri Lanka for 6 months, luring me back to the seemingly contrasting world of education. I explained my situation to the partners and was told “we will get back to you in a few days.”
If my interview at RIG was successful and they offered me a job, I would have a difficult decision to make. Would I be spending the coming year trying to convince my friends that an engine utilising shape memory alloys and low grade waste heat to generate electricity is, in fact, extremely interesting? Or would I be marking test papers on a beach in the tropics?
The fact I am writing this blog will probably lead you to assume that I got the job at RIG, decided to stay in London and have been working here for a year. Well, not quite. My seemingly tricky decision was made easier by the conditions of my offer. I was offered employment here but also advised to take up the opportunity to go to Sri Lanka to teach and return to RIG the following year. My experience teaching abroad, I was told, would add value to my career at RIG.
To meet the demands of working here I wasn’t wrong in thinking I’d need to adapt my skill set significantly. Nevertheless my experience teaching has certainly provided a useful set of transferable skills.
My first two months here have been the start of an exciting education process. The feedback from all members of the team means I am continually learning, engaging in intelligent thought processes, and adapting to a RIG mentality. Not only am I learning, the processes and skills I developed while teaching are proving valuable. In Colombo I often had to create lesson plans to describe to students an alien idea or concept. I find myself doing much the same thing here in London; complex and technical ideas must be conveyed simply, while presentations must be engaging. So far my work here has been fast-paced, challenging and most importantly, fun.
Of course, teaching and consultancy are not identical careers. But the skills they both demand and the behaviour one must exhibit in the classroom and the meeting room makes the connection between these two worlds abundantly clear.