21 February 2020

Paul tells us why he volunteered with international business students

Paul, Vice President of Connected Automotive and Mobility at Fujitsu, tells us why he wanted to ‘pay it forward’ and volunteer with international business students.

I always say that I ‘grew up’ at school; I entered as a boy and left as a young man not only through formal education but with new social skills and an awareness of how to acheive. Once I left school I joined a youth training scheme which was a government scheme for 16 year olds which was part educational and part work experience. One of my first jobs after training was testing circuit boards at a company which agreed to sponsor me through college.

After college I got a job with Fujitsu as a junior engineer which involved repairing PC’s. This was my entry point into the company and the opening to life changing opportunities. I worked my way up to support engineer, line manager of a team of engineers to the area manager for Central London until I moved over to retail clients such as Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer. I then took over the running of application development which meant learning about a new area of the company, spanning 9 countries across Europe and being responsible for 1000 people. I eventually returned to the business side where I took on the role of Operations Director for manufacturing across Europe which lead me to connect with Ford Motor Company where I became the global client executive and then went on to head up the Automotive business in the Americas and lead on global strategy.

Towards the end of my time at school I still had dreams of being a footballer which were unrealistic. It was thanks to the advice of my careers advisor that I went on the youth training scheme, leveraging my attributes in maths and computer studies. It was great careers advice and without it I may have been lost; it was the intervention that I needed. I’m a big believer in paying it forward, I sit on an advisory board for Michigan Council of Women in Technology which is a charity that helps women within Detroit Michigan get into STEM education and jobs. When the opportunity came up to volunteer with Future First I thought it would be a great way of paying it forward in my home City. I could pass on the careers advice that I was so lucky to have received. It’s important for young people to talk to those with experience outside the classroom to help them make decisions using real world guidance and advice. I always say that the only bad decision is no decision!

I went back to school as a volunteer at a workshop for business students who were looking at international business. I shared my experience with them along with some aspects of the industry that may not be so obvious such as taking into account cultural diversity when trading in different countries and other things that may not necessarily be in their textbooks. I found the students to be very engaged and engaging; I learned as much from them as they hopefully learned from me, it was very rewarding!

The advice that I’d give to students is to find a sense of purpose. When you’re young in your career you chase money and promotions but they’re short term motivators; neither of them will sustain you over time. The one thing that will help you get out of bed in the morning is a sense of purpose.

The other piece of advice I’d give is to develop self-awareness early. Sometimes you may find it difficult to list what you’re good at because your talents or skills may seem easy for you to do. It’s difficult to value skills you find easy and you put more value on skills you don’t possess. It is important to recognise that you may have skills that others don’t and the route to success is to become great at what you are good at.

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