I can be found most evenings with my iPhone or iPad in hand scrolling through and catching up on various posts and working my way through (amongst others) LinkedIn threads and discussions on any number of topics as there is always something to be learnt from the wider business community; doesn’t always need to be about property.

It’s a habit endorsed by Warren Buffett CEO of Berkshire Hathaway one of the most successful investors with an estimated net worth of nearly $77 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in the world. He too likes to sit and read but would imagine he has a tad more time than me for such quiet pursuits. And although I do not for one moment think I ‘know business’ Mr Buffett certainly does and is an invaluable source of information.

One specific thread that I am following is where the author is looking for work after being made unexpectedly redundant and is finding it difficult to get past the interview stage. By all accounts he is highly experienced with transferable skills and clearly motivated to look for his next role but reviewing the comments there seems to be a theme emerging from all those posting relating to a bias towards age and lack of educational qualifications.

Now I have to admit that I absolutely loved school; gaining my first O’Level at 14 (‘guess the age’ opportunity here!) and again at 16 and then further O’ Levels at 18. I also enjoyed a 21 year career with the Prison Service starting out as an office clerk, transferring to a uniform grade as an officer and making my way up through the ranks to an Operational Prison Governor which involved even more exams and adjusting my learning style in order to gain invaluable experience from my peers.

But not everyone is academically minded and neither should you need to be as life provides its own learning opportunities and just because you don’t have a qualification to your name it does not mean that you are any less capable.

I have personally known some fantastic managers and worked alongside very knowledgeable and capable staff that may have not been able to pass an interview or an exam but would have followed them into any situation because they knew what they were doing, gave great advice and support and did their job bloody well.

In some cases their experience was gained over decades of service so age, although immaterial, meant that they had had the ‘time to learn’ and develop the ‘tools of the trade’.

Fast forward to where I am now; I work in an industry that I have had to learn and understand with no related experience or formal qualifications but has been underpinned with a firm understanding of compliance and staff management and a real passion to succeed all derived from my previous role but which I could transfer and adapt to meet my new found business needs.

Part of that process has been not only to develop my own skills set but that of my staff which come from a diverse background none of which are property related. Their experiences range from being a company secretary, an IT professional, a former member of the Armed Forces, retail and elderly care.

Each member of our team has their own unique skill set but what they all collectively bring to the table is a real sense of professionalism; wanting to provide the very best service they can for our agents, tenants and landlords. I couldn’t tell you how old they are as I honestly don’t know and it has no bearing on their ability to provide professional reports and a high level of service.

They have each learnt their role as an inventory clerk, as I have, from scratch in their own unique way; developing and learning as we all move forward together, sharing experiences, understanding and working with me to cement our knowledge base and our position within the lettings industry.

Some have taken to the role with ease; others have needed a little more help and support but they are all extremely competent and provide detailed, professional reports that can be relied on.

I’m actually in the very fortunate position of needing more like them as we are constantly being asked to take on more property reports but need the clerks to be able to capitalise on those work orders.

My Point? Your working background, your academic standing, your age, your experiences are all equally valuable because they have shaped the person you are but they do not define you as new skills can be learnt, new working practices developed and with those as your foundations, new opportunities explored.

A favourite Warren Buffett quote of mine is: Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.

I like to internalise that by drawing a parallel with our reporting industry in that by planting the initial seed through creation of opportunities, training and belief in the person you can help them look beyond their chains of habit and develop into roles that they may have never thought were for them.

With age brings experience, with youth brings enthusiasm, with training brings professionalism…


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