Harry Wright – The Next Chapter
Ever felt disappointed? Ever felt like you’ve let someone else/your parents or even yourself down? Well that was me the day I went to collect my AS level results. I’ll never forget that morning, as at the time it felt like my whole world had crumbled – to make it even worse a lot of my close friends were running around waving a piece of paper (YES, A PIECE OF PAPER) that had a couple of letters on it.
Looking back failing my AS level was the BEST mistake I have ever made.
Why have I written this blog?
Being in that position myself I completely empathise with anyone at school/sixth form or even college who have received negative grades in the past. Schools are that focused on herding students like sheep into University (so that they can brag about their percentage’s) they forget that other options can be equal, if not better pathways to explore.
Far too many people focus on a few letters on a piece of paper (also known as grades) to define their ability/competence within a specific area. However, from my experience a lot of the theory/academic literature simply doesn’t work effectively in real life scenarios, mainly due to not considering factors that could affect the situation.
I’m writing this blog firstly to show that university isn’t for everyone and there are other pathways available. However, also to speak about my own personal journey and give an insight into how I went from receiving the news of failing my AS levels, to then being accepted into Manchester Metropolitan University (which is in the top 5% of Business schools globally) to study Business Management, whilst in a secure job.
What has been done so far?
Back in the 2000’s I joined Crompton House C of E secondary school. I was the only student from my primary to join CHS, therefore to add onto the fact I was going into an unfamiliar environment, I was also doing it alone! The years passed and I built a strong group of friends (as well as one or two girlfriends on the way)! When it came to year 9, it was time to select my options. We selected 4 subjects, to go alongside IT, English and Maths. I chose: PE, Business Studies, Geography and Hospitality and Catering. GCSE’s went well coming out with A*, A’s, B’s and C’s. My next step was to join the sixth form at CHS.
Sixth form was very different to school, you had a lot more freedom and were expected to do a lot of extra reading. At sixth form I studied: Geography, PE, Business Studies and Sociology. Of course, at that age you have further distractions including a lot more parties, going out etc. Throughout the year I had mixed grades, some mocks I did brilliant, some I struggled with. Then it came to results day… you know the rest by now!!
But what next? What could I do? All my friends who I’d spent the last 6 years with were going on to do A2. Should I re-sit the year? I made the decision to do a bespoke qualification which would take me out of my comfort zone however, give me a clearer direction…
In September I began studying Business Studies at Hopwood Hall college. Initially I was on the two-year programme with a view to considering my options at the end of it. However, I picked up a couple of part time jobs and within the first 6 months I was keen to get an apprenticeship (I’d had a taste of the work life, I was earning money and didn’t want to be sat in a classroom). I took on board some advice from my mum and dad, which meant I completed the first year at Hopwood before then looking for an apprenticeship. My mum’s a specialist pain nurse and my dad’s a bilingual business advisor for exporting goods out of the UK.
But what was an apprenticeship? What did it mean to be an apprentice? Everyone says they pay awful money, they over work you and they get rid of you once it’s finished. All I can remember from my time at school was that they had a career fair and a few apprentice providers had a stand however, I was young, why would I be interested?
Anyway, the hunt started for an apprenticeship. By this point I was old enough for a “lads holiday” and couldn’t wait for my first time away with friends (my mum’s nightmare). Prior to going away, I had been in contact with a security firm around a marketing apprenticeship. I went for an interview and all was looking well however, things went quiet and for one reason or another I didn’t get the gig.
Another bit of luck which at the time seemed like the worst thing in the world.
We were now in October time, I’d been working full time for friend in a manual labour job. This is when I began to put the feelers out and see if I could grab myself an apprenticeship – but again where did I look?
I completed an interview with a Manchester based apprentice provider, who then contacted me to say that one of their clients had shown an interest in my profile – exciting! I went through the process, firstly having a telephone interview, before then having a f2f and then finally, presenting on a subject that at the time I had no idea about (cloud technology) – I still get stick to this day by my boss Matt for my 34-slide presentation. Anyway, after a mixed interview performance, in which I replied, “snapchatting my friends” to the question “please talk to me about when you have communicated effectively in the past?” I got the job!
Similar to when I started at Crompton House I was throwing myself in at the deep end. I had no idea who were Réncái were, what they did or what their name even stood for. However, with the guidance of Matt, the rest of the Réncái team and many external partners I am now in a position where I am developing business opportunities, as well as coming across credible to stakeholders ranging all the way up to C suite level – let’s take a step back… I failed my AS levels which seemed like the worst thing in the world. How many of my friends who went to university have been engaging with that level of stakeholder?
The Next Chapter…
I’m almost two years down the line with Réncái and every day is honestly more enjoyable. Personally, I’m motivated by results and producing high quality work. It’s not always easy and there’s some days can be harder than others. However. I’m very pleased to say that I began studying towards a Business Management Degree at Manchester Metropolitan University this month – which to me is a HUGE achievement! This will now add an extra piece to my tool box, so when I am speaking to clients, reviewing businesses or even training people (who were in my position) I can be even more agile.
This particular blog was firstly a thank you to everyone who’s helped me along the way; my parents, Matt (my boss), my girlfriend and all my work colleagues both internal and external. Secondly, it was hopefully to send a message to say that just because those letters on that piece of paper aren’t what you expected, you can still achieve great things – just because you don’t go to university straight from sixth form, doesn’t mean that you can’t go at all – just because you don’t get that job you were excited about, doesn’t mean you won’t find a better one.
Réncái and Matt have given me a great opportunity and foundation to build a great career, it’s time to give back. At the same time I’m in a position where I can support and advise organisations on how to go from a difficult position, into a great one. If you sit in HR and I haven’t knocked on your door as of yet, then you’ve got another 50+ years to hide from me (with the rate retirement age is going up!!).
If anyone’s got kids/someone who might want to learn more about apprenticeships and how I went about things then please do reach out. Similarly, if you want to learn more about Réncái then please do email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on