stories

Poseidon, bin collector, judge. What I wanted to be when I was a kid.

When things are busy, it can be tough to make time and space for YOU. So in order to make some space for ME on MY blog, this is a blog post all about… me 🙂

Reflecting on ‘career’ progress for want of a better word is an important part of charting your own development, and this is something I have been doing as part of reviewing and updating my Senior CMALT Portfolio. The time frame for updating the portfolio is the last 3 years… but what we I look back 30+ years instead?

How has my path changed since I first decided on what I wanted to do in life? Well, it all started with.. ketchup.

Hot dog vendor

Yep, growing up in what was then West Germany in the 80s made me a child who had a fondness for both, sausages and ketchup. Hence, my first career plan involved (what seemed to me) an endless daily supply of both. Whilst I am glad that this particular plan didn’t work out for me, I am still absolutely a fan of sausage on a barbecue AND ketchup.

Early school years

Bin collector: Obviously because of jumping on and off a moving vehicle, which looked like a LOT of fun to me.

Circus conductor: as you can see from the cover image of this post, a fancy dress party my parents organised for my sister’s 16th (?) birthday gave me the opportunity to try out what it would be like to be a circus conductor, and needless to say I enjoyed it very much. Animals. Travel. Being in charge… what’s not to like 😉

Poseidon: my fancy dress costume of choice at pre-school, patiently produced by my talented mother from green fabric, green netting and plenty of home-made paper and foil fish as well as a cardboard trident, was Poseidon. I proudly climbed up into the school bus on the day, only to meet rather puzzled classmates, who weren’t quite sure why I was dressed in a green bedsheet covered in fish whilst they wore princess dresses or the armour of superheroes. Still, being of the sea has always attracted me, and I still smile when I think back to that particular outfit.

Astronaut: in primary school I had an inspiring teacher, who taught us sciences with such enthusiasm, that we not only learnt about photosynthesis, but in my case also got inspired to go into space. Willy was a teacher who welcomed all questions and valued curiosity above all else.

Later school years

Horse breeder: I can’t remember anymore which books I read, but for some time during my early teenage years, I was into horses, big time. We had a neighbour with an elderly horse that needed care, and Blacky proved to be an ideal horse for me to spend time with. I was a bit too afraid of riding to really get into it, and not physically confident, but I enjoyed walking him around the paddock, looking after him and… reading books about horses. My fantasy of having a farm and breed horses (ideally somewhere in the Irish countryside) involved wearing wellies, and being outside with horses and dogs. That, minus the horses, is how I like to spend my free time now… only in the Welsh countryside.

Judge: At some point during the turbulent years of teenage hood, I became very interested in ethics and the legal system. I read a lot as a teenager, mostly books that were far too serious (I still have a full set of Kafka in black paperback from that period) and the idea of being part of something that could help set things right in the world, at least in my young eyes, was appealing.

College and university

Once I started college in London, my seventeen year old self discovered a lot of new opportunities and careers. Through my mostly low paid bar and customer service jobs I met people who had interesting, creative careers: cinema projectionists, coffee roasters, art collectors, book shop owners, academics, artists, musicians and many, who were many years older and worked behind the same shop or bar counter as me.

Artist: throughout my college and undergraduate years, my focus was on my creative practice. It was challenging and interesting and provided me with freedom that subjects like law or science wouldn’t have. I loved art school. I didn’t love selling the work I made. I didn’t end up pursuing a career in art, but the things I learnt, the ways of thinking and being curious, are still very much part of my daily practice.

Anthropologist: when I returned from a scholarship at the Athens School of Fine Arts, I was looking to do a postgraduate degree, and one MA, in Material and Visual Culture, attracted me in particular. It was a great course that introduced me to a whole new discipline and opened up a world of new perspectives in my head. I was still working in a café and a bookshop during my first postgraduate year, so my time to engage with student life was limited. That changed during my research degree years, when I managed to get a scholarship, and study cemeteries for a few years. My thesis has an intensely practical focus: how to bury people in the 21st century whilst respecting the burial culture of the past. But even I never expected to have a career in cemeteries.

Learning Technologist: When the opportunity came along to work on a new VLE, Moodle, being introduced in my department at university, I immediately applied for the summer job and spent happy months setting up dozens of modules. That was the start of my work in Learning Technology, and it has lead to me a field that I am still working in today.

Now

Every Myers-Briggs test I have ever done described me as someone who is good at making decisions, good at leading, and I enjoy the variety of being in a leadership position that brings new challenges with it every day. I guess it’s no surprise that I will be celebrating 10 years of being a CEO next year, and that is a milestone I am looking forward to reflecting on in my CMALT Portfolio update.

I am not sure if what I do now would seem like a good thing to the me who wanted to be Poseidon or breed horses. What I am sure about is that younger me would love the dog, and be happy about me writing a book.

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