My Life Story
I grew up on a South London estate. My dad was an English bricklayer and my mum was a Zulu, who came to England from Durban in the 1960s. She became a cleaner when she had a family to support because it was necessary as life wasn’t easy but my mum and dad (married for 44 years and only parted by my dad’s passing) instilled in me a determination and work ethic that gave me the ambition, resilience and courage to take a different path.
My potential wasn’t realised in school – or maybe school didn’t do very well for me. Sport was (and still is) my great passion and one of the biggest crossroads in my life was whether to play sport for a living or to take up an apprenticeship with the RAF. Because, although I hadn’t fulfilled my potential in school, I did very well in an RAF aptitude test. I took that offer and became a flight systems engineer, working in the RAF for nine years. The RAF were incredible – when I left they helped to settle me in civilian life and my commanding officer could see a different spark in me and enabled me to take a Diploma in Management Studies, the equivalent today of a foundation MBA.
These experiences – the world of sport, my family and the RAF – are the bedrock of my approach to business and life. Not only did they let me see life outside the corporate environment, they taught me the importance of the team and the value of looking after your staff above and beyond.
After leaving the RAF I worked as a sales engineer for a global utilities company, and was quickly promoted through the ranks. I cut my commercial teeth in this corporate environment. I took over an ailing division and within two years it was the best-performing department. What this environment also taught me however is what happens to the soul of the team when the stakeholders are not part of that team, when the profits of that hard work are not shared This is why I choose only to work with entrepreneurs who have a stake in their own business.
I left to set up Aimteq. I won’t pretend the journey to success has been easy. Often it could feel very isolating & even frightening – when you start up, you’re doing absolutely everything, from low-level admin to negotiating high-level deals with your customers. You carry everything. I had to learn how to make it work and I discovered for real – although I had always known it – that how I created, led and inspired my team was just as important as how on the ball I was about the profit and loss accounts, cash flow, operations and marketing. I found unmined potential in my staff, which was transformative for them and their lives. I learnt that work had to be more than a job, it also has to give you a stake in your own dreams.
In year 5 and year 10 of my business, I wanted a business sounding board, a professional who would understand where I was coming from and understood what my hopes, fears and dreams were. I brought in the help of some management consultants and coaches. In the end, I felt let down, perhaps even angry, at how academic the advice was – how removed it was from the real risks and aspirations I had as the business owner and the lack of empathy with my journey.
My story is central to why Mavericus has been created: I want to inspire and help company owners and entrepreneurs who put themselves on the line to build a healthy business that brings their dreams and hopes to life. It’s about hard graft, risk, complete honesty about who you are, where you need to go, how to get there, identifying the opportunities and having the tools and courage to act on them.