The story of me joining TQUK wasn’t your average ‘applied, interviewed, hired’ situation. I had some inside help from the local postie, otherwise known as my father. He delivered mail to TQUK when they were still in Cadishead and asked if they were hiring anyone. I emailed the head of the Awarding Organisation and was invited in.

In interviews, I was used to questions about my work ethic or the type of person I am or how my History degree relates to working in dental practice. However, when I interviewed with Andrew, the Managing Director, and Katie, the Head of the Awarding Organisation, they just told me how good TQUK was, how the company was growing (We’ve moved to larger offices once since I started!) and about the close-knit team with good values. To be honest, I wasn’t even 100% sure what an awarding organisation was, but I knew I wanted to work for a company like this.

The average day starts with a coffee. We alternate weekly shifts starting at either 08:00 or 09:30, which has its pros and cons. Pros: you can have a lie in on the 09:30 shift or get off early on the 08:00 shift! Day to day, my role revolves around contacting customers via phone or email to discuss their business needs and how we can help or encourage provision. Other vital topics can include whether West Ham will finally win a game or the customer’s plans for the Christmas break. Most of the customers I talk to I’ve had contact with since I started 18 months ago, so we normally always have something to talk about. Due to our growth, we regularly have new centres coming on board bringing new challenges. It’s always satisfying taking a centre through our centre recognition process up to the point of registering learners or recommending a qualification to a centre and seeing this take off for them.

At TQUK, our work colleagues become our friends. We usually go for drinks on a Friday or see each other outside of work. This closeness of is obvious when you walk into the office. Everyone is approachable. The office is full of characters. Even if you are having a rough day, the people always try to cheer you up and help you get back on track. Whether it’s making you that much-needed cuppa or sharing a joke, help’s always there. I think having good social interaction helps us work better together.

We had a 5-a-side team which we named ‘Unbelievable Geoff’, in which Andrew occupied the much-needed striker position and our Operations Manager ‘attempted’ to be a goalkeeper. He was excellent up close but dreadful from afar. Eventually, he admitted that he couldn’t see the ball until it was near the box. Unbelievable Geoff by name and all that...

As many of you may know, this Client Relationship Officer can make appearances in TQUK’s marketing. Our centres and followers love to interact and this part of the role is always fun. I talk to our centres on a daily basis. Putting a face to the voice is key, especially when my beard seems to be the centre of so much attention! One of our most engaging posts on social media involved me, a Christmas tree, a Santa hat and some tinsel!

(Unfortunately, I recently placed a bet with our Marketing Manager, Kyle, that he couldn’t grow a beard until after the office’s end-of-year Christmas party. The bet: 6 pints of his choice. The outcome: he’s won this one with an outrageous attempt. Fair play.)

Over the past year, I’ve had opportunities to get out on the road to visit centres and attend events. Recently, I was out on the road with our Business Development Manager, Kelle McQuade, attending the FAB awards, which recognises achievements in the awarding industry. This was a great opportunity to represent TQUK, learn and gain some contacts in the education world. (There was also free red wine which, let’s be honest, is reason enough to attend an event!) I also went down to London with a larger TQUK contingent to host an event with CIEH discussing the future of the hospitality and catering sector and environmental health sector, which opened up the floor to centres. This was a great opportunity to meet some of our clients and get a better understanding of what they might need. Who doesn’t enjoy getting out now and then?

Having a company like TQUK behind you has definitely helped me both personally and professionally. I’ve been able to start a business administration qualification which will help in my current role and with my future development within the company. Considering the education world is full of dinosaurs, it’s great to work with a team that makes me feel like we aren’t in a sector going extinct!