Callum C joined Langley for Sixth Form in 2008, studying History, Psychology and Physical Education at A-Level. In this interview we hear about his next steps and the brilliant opportunities that his career has given him.
Did you know what career you wanted to follow when you were at Langley?
No, I didn’t, and used to worry about this a bit, particularly when deciding upon what my next steps should be after school. In hindsight, there was nothing to worry about, and I am glad that I kept my options open.
Which teams and trips were you involved in at school?
I played a lot of sport at Langley and it is what initially attracted me to the school. I was the 1st XV Rugby Captain in my final year, and it really cemented my love for the game – to the point that I still play regularly today. I also represented the school in Football, for the 1st XI, and Cricket for the 2nd XI. Regarding trips, I have fond memories of the 2009 Rugby Tour to Bordeaux. Being away from home at 16 and playing play rugby for three days straight with your close friends was excellent.
Has the above been useful within your career and given you transferable skills?
Absolutely. The obvious transferrable skill gained is the ability to work as part of a team, as it is pretty crucial in the vast majority of professions.
Rugby taught me to always be respectful when you win but, more importantly, it taught me that if things do not go as planned, and you occasionally lose, it can actually provide a good opportunity to assess how you can improve, and then apply it next time. This is really important in my current role, and something the company I work for takes pretty seriously.
I think one key transferrable skill that all sport provides is communication, particularly important when meeting new people. Creating a varied professional network is undeniably important and it takes good communication skills to do so. Also, when communicating within the workplace, it is important to be able to consciously vary how you communicate in different situations and with different people. Playing a sport definitely helps to prepare you for this.
What did you study at university?
I went to Nottingham Trent and studied Business Management and Psychology. I had an amazing three years and look back on it fondly. It is definitely not the only route post-school, but one that I am glad I took.
How did your career begin?
After graduating, I moved back home for about a year and a half, and worked in a couple of different roles in Sales and Recruitment. My heart wasn’t ever truly in it, and I personally only really saw those roles as a ‘job’ instead of a career that I wanted to apply myself to and progress in. I knew I was treading water; I also knew that I wanted to move away from East Anglia again and live somewhere new. The only thing I still didn’t know, was what I wanted to do!
My career in software then began somewhat by chance. One of my close friends who I had been playing rugby with at North Walsham RFC had, six months prior, moved to London to start a Business Development role for an American software company. He called me one day, telling me the company he was working for were expanding their Business Development function. He asked me to send a CV over so that he could submit it to the company’s internal recruitment team, so I did.
I did a lot of research on the industry itself, the career paths, the success and failure stories, and decided it looked really exciting. I was fully open in the interview process about my perceived strengths and weaknesses, my personal and career ambitions, and also my absolute lack of software experience. However, I made it very clear that I wanted the job and would really apply myself. Within two weeks of receiving a call, I had moved to London and started my new role, and within four weeks I was flying to the company’s HQ in California, to start a four-week ‘new hire induction course.’
Where are you now in your career and what have been the highlights?
I am now an Account Director for Coupa Software. Coupa are a publicly listed company, headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley, with large EMEA operations in both London and Dublin as well other locations.
I generally mix my time between travelling to see prospects, the EMEA offices and also remotely working from home in Oxford. We are definitely a modern and mobile workforce, and I have a lot of autonomy over where I am and how I structure my day and week.
My role itself is focused on leading, managing and closing new business sales to expand our customer base. The role is quota and target driven, which brings some pressure and can sometimes be by nature challenging. However, Coupa are a great company to work for, they really look after both their employees and, importantly, their customers.
In terms of highlights, the business travel for me is one of the best parts of working in Software. I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel to and work in multiple cities throughout both Europe and the USA in my career so far, meeting some great people and enjoying some fun experiences along the way.
On reflection, did your time at Langley School help inform your career choices and your attitude to your career progression?
In terms of career choices, Langley definitely made it clear that there were loads of options out there. I clearly remember how open the majority of the staff were, in talking through various options and sharing their own personal thoughts and experiences.
One of the main benefits of being at Langley was that it allowed me to make some friends for life, with people who have been very successful in their own chosen careers. These people were always clearly going to do well, and I think that has propelled me on somewhat in terms of my attitude towards progressing my own career.
Is there any advice you would like to give to students currently considering joining Langley, choosing their A Levels and considering their career choices?
Regarding joining Langley: If it is a viable option, you should do it. It is a great opportunity.
Regarding choosing A-Levels and career choice: Ultimately do something that interests you. If you have your heart set on following a certain educational or career path already, that is great, go for it!
If you are unsure, do not worry about it like I did, just focus on doing things and choosing routes that interest you. Always be open to new ideas, new experiences and trying different options. The rest will fall into place over time.
Do you have any regrets?
I wish I had applied myself more from an academic perspective. While I was probably never going to win any academic awards, I could definitely have studied a bit harder (and caused both my teachers and parents a bit less stress along the way!).
In reality I didn’t fully understand what an amazing opportunity I was given by my family, when they agreed to support me with going to Langley. But it is one that I am now very much thankful for.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d love to nominate for a shout-out the school legend that is Edward Salmon, a man that bleeds Langley green.