Corporate Career Change Teaching Career Change

My career change: How a successful career, two redundancies & burn out took me back to my old passion

According to a recent study, redundancy has been rated more stressful than divorce or moving home. If the threat of redundancy hangs over a workforce for a prolonged period, the stress level is even higher due to a corrosive feeling of uncertainty, that makes us feel we are not in control.

The Guardian reports, that following the three-month lockdown that was implemented at the end of March, companies in a variety of sectors announced furloughs and redundancies – with retail, aviation and hospitality bearing the brunt of the cuts. As today there have been counted 187,056 redundancies and 9,602,000 people furloughed.

With the Coronavirus job retention scheme being scaled back from August, there are expectations that many furloughed people are going to face permanent redundancies in the next months.

According to redundancy statistics, people over the age of 50 face both a higher risk of redundancy and find it harder to find a job when unemployed with many of them having no choice but to become “olderpreneurs” after being made redundant.

A different story is the one of Ben Roseveare. He explored teaching at a young age during a Gap Year in Malawi, followed by a VSO Overseas Training Programme in Pakistan. After graduating in 1994 from the University of Sussex with a BA Hons Degree in Geography with Development Studies, School of African & Asian Studies he couldn’t envision himself in the educational sector for the next 40 years.

In his first career change, he fell into the travel industry as a salesman and quickly found his niche in the sector of Activity and Adventure Tourism. After a fantastic 20 years career, travelling the world and working as a Salesman, Sales Manager, Sales & Marketing Director, Marketing & eCommerce Director, he had to face burnt out and two redundancies. It was then that Ben realised it was time to change his career again to rediscover the personal passion he used to have: Teaching Geography to new generations.

Ben Roseveare Teacher of Geography at Ash Manor School

Today Ben is sharing his career change story with The Career Changers.

What is your educational background?

I graduated in 1994 from the University of Sussex with a BA Hons Degree in Geography with Development Studies, School of African & Asian Studies. This year, 2020, I got a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Reading.

How many languages do you speak?

I speak English, my native language, but I have travelled and worked abroad extensively.

When I worked in Pakistan, my self-taught Urdu was “basic conversational” by the end of the year.

Which job did you want to do when you were a child? Did you do it?

I wanted to be an RAF Fighter Pilot.

I didn’t do it, but I was in the Air Cadets as a teenager, and I have got the opportunity to fly small RAF training planes a few times.

The school I am starting my teaching career at has close links to Aldershot Garrison and a very active Combined Cadet Force. I am very much looking forward to getting actively involved in this extra-curricular opportunity.

You started your career as a Teacher. How did that happen?

I had my first experience as a voluntary primary school teacher during a Gap Year in Malawi, followed by a VSO Overseas Training Programme in Pakistan.

At the time, that was the perfect combination of travelling, living abroad, giving something back and teaching. Those were both formative years.

Later on, when I started my degree course, I imagined a role working for the UN or an NGO like OXFAM. But, by the end of my ‘Development Studies’ degree and personal overseas working experiences, I had become disillusioned with the scope, reality and actual impact of many ‘aid’ projects.

After my graduation, I had a place lined up to do a Primary Years PGCE course. I didn’t take the plunge into the classroom at the time. I couldn’t quite process the idea of 40 more years in an educational environment.

So it was at that time, with that new awareness, that you experienced the first career change of your life. What did happen after deciding that the education sector was not for you?

I fell into the travel industry as a salesman and quickly found my niche in the sector of Activity and Adventure Tourism.

I have had a fantastic 20 years working as a Salesman, Sales Manager, Sales & Marketing Director, Marketing & Ecommerce Director for companies like Exodus Travels and Intrepid Travel.

Your 20 years career in the travel industry allowed you to travel the world and to experience extraordinary adventures. At the same time, at some point, you felt burned out.

During those years, I worked extremely hard. I worked in Wellington, New Zealand for a year – I was born in New Zealand, so this felt like a rite of passage) and in Melbourne, Australia, for 18 months.

When not driving the desk in the head office, I was travelling the world with small groups adventure holidays. Some of the places I visited are Angel Falls, Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro (twice!), Antarctica.

Ben Roseveare during one of his travel adventures

As I was working extremely hard, I was promoted pretty quickly, and at a relatively young age (in my thirties), I was sitting on the executive teams of some very exciting travel businesses. But at some point, I burnt out. It was at that time that I decided to take a year off work and go backpacking in South America with my wife.

Five years ago, your successful and adventurous career in the travel industry was interrupted by a sudden redundancy, followed by a second one.

I had been ‘head hunted’ and joined Mark Warner holidays, winter ski resorts and active summer beach resorts. The business wasn’t growing – coupled with a lack of investment – which was a new experience for me.

I ended up being the casualty.

I bounced around a little before ending up as the Director of two small businesses in the Active Travel Group. A new ‘Private Equity’ backed environment, with very high growth expectations. I decided to take a calculated risk – but the business didn’t follow the desired trajectory. I was the casualty (again).

Sometimes we get hit by events in our lives, and we can hardly make sense of them. Looking back, what are your consideration on what happened?

Reflecting carefully, I had stopped enjoying working in Sales & Marketing. I have been there and done that.

I had enough of the daily London commute, three hours a day, every day. Yes – you do get used to it, but you shouldn’t have to.

My strengths were in brand, marketing communications, brochures, newsletters, loyalty schemes. I found the new world of digital acquisition and Facebook marketing less interesting. Perhaps also “an old dog struggling with new tricks”?

I also found the teams around me looking younger and younger. The adventure sports industry is perhaps a younger person’s game, despite all the MAMILs out there on their road bikes!

Given the Covid-19 situation, I have left my previous industry (global adventure travel) at the perfect time. It has been completely decimated, and in my opinion, it will take years to recover, or it may even never return to its old glory. I could claim visionary insights, but probably it was just a lucky decision.

What did you do after your second redundancy?

Interestingly I already had a place to do the PGCE and become a Geography Teacher before I was made redundant the second time.

Could I see it coming the second time? Yes.

Would I have left anyway to start my new teaching career? Probably.

This was the time of your second career change, that is, in some way, a return to where you started at a young age. How did you feel about changing career again?

It has been a pretty full-on change. Quite daunting to start with.

But I felt that this was the time to give something back again.

I wanted to rediscover the personal passion that I used to have.

And I wanted to feel that I am making a difference. Each day. Every day.

During your professional life, you have been lucky enough to travel the world. Did you get a different perspective of the world?

Yes, I have been lucky enough to explore the length and breadth of the world. I have worked in the UK, Malawi, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia.

I now look forward to bringing that sense of awe and wonder to our younger generation.

What life and transferable skills have you learned from your previous experiences?

Presenting and persuading. Selling. Marketing.

Resilience.

Celebrating success.

Overcoming failure.

The power of knowledge.

The potential of young people.

How and when did you start thinking about changing career?

I have always thought about it.

I taught in a primary environment voluntarily for a few formative years.

In some ways, I am returning to where I originally started.

What challenges did you have to overcome to start your new career?

The first challenge is the salary, as I am starting again as a new teacher.

We had to sell our large townhouse and said good riddance to our big and somewhat out of control mortgage.

We moved into a new build on the edge of town, but we still have plenty of room for the three teenagers, and we are essentially mortgage-free.

It feels very liberating.

The second challenge is having to wear a suit and tie every day!

I will need to get used to that requirement again after lockdown.

What are the highlights and lowlights of your job?

Ask me in a few years about the lowlights!

So far, I have thrived on the structure, the subject knowledge, the preparation, the delivery, the reflection, the refinement of good geography lessons.

What is your typical day?

I have an early start. By 7.30 am, I am at school. Classroom, lessons and resources need to be ready before the students arrive.

After that, it is a whirlwind. You don’t have time to dawdle. It suits me perfectly.

Then the bell goes at 3 pm. Your day is done. Breathe. Reflect. Prepare and go HOME!!!

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Who knows?

I hopefully have 15 to 20 years to give to teaching. We will see where this new journey leads.

Could simply become a contented Teacher of Geography?

Or may well travel and teach overseas again? (once the teenagers have found their niches).

Why do you think changing a career is a good thing?

Changing career is a challenge and a risk at the same time. It gives you a new stimulus and a newfound enjoyment.

I also think that we fundamentally change as we get older. I am no longer the hungry salesman that I was in my late-twenties. I have mellowed and matured.

From a personal point of view, I now have the opportunity to share my life experiences with our younger generation. (I have a captive audience for my travel photography!)

Has your career been impacted by the coronavirus?

Yes. With school closures and remote learning.

I am looking forward to getting back into the classroom this September.

Anything else you would like to add with our readers?

Over the years, I have fostered a deep appreciation of the world and how geography influences differing cultures, physical processes and ultimately, the future of our planet. Geography is a subject that is crucial for students to understand; to learn how our world has developed, and ultimately to appreciate that they are the custodians of their own fragile inheritance.

Outside of work, sport is my passion. I am an active member of Farnham Runners and try to get out on the trails most days. I am proficient at all racket sports (tennis, squash and badminton), enjoy road cycling and have a deep love of the great outdoors.

For the last ten years, I have coached (FA1 qualified) and managed a youth football team. It has been fantastic watching the boys grow into respectful young adults. In the last year I have also qualified as a football referee and officiate high-level U17 and U18 matches in the Surrey and Hampshire leagues.

The world is a richer place with committed educators who can encourage and enable students in their care to achieve their full potential.

Did you enjoy reading this career change interview?

Read more career change stories here https://thecareerchangers.com/career-change-stories/

Do you have an inspirational career change story to share? Contact The Career Changers at elisamartinig@thecareerchangers.com and we will be in touch soon.

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