By Martin TAYLOR, Supercomm English Trainer
As a long-standing teacher at Supercomm I thought it might be interesting to write an article for the blog to share with you some of my experiences and opinions, and maybe to explain a little how I have managed to build a second career. I joined Supercomm during the last century (1999), having spent many years working with multinational companies, notably as a Marketing Manager. My last company, BP Chemicals decided to move their Business Centre away from Switzerland and I decided to stay, close to my family and friends, as well as a number of activities I had taken up here.
I think the first important thing I learnt was to think outside the box and not try to rebuild a second career in the same sector, although I had been very happy as a Marketing Manager of an international business. I was fortunate to have the services of an outplacement consultant, who quickly got me analysing my assets. As a native English speaker with experience in the business world, this pointed us toward teaching, which had always interested me since I was in secondary school. So, when I saw the Supercomm advert in the Tribune de Genève I quickly applied and, as they say, the rest is history.
The first challenge was to convince myself, and hopefully my students, that I could teach and I must say that the Supercomm training, coupled with the energy and enthusiasm of the trainer (Mrs Gassmann at the time) did a lot to reassure me and motivate me to give it a go.
Perhaps the first concern when starting was to have a correct view of students. During my first career I had spent a lot of time with directors and senior managers of BP’s clients and I really enjoyed it and felt I was where I wanted to be. I can honestly say that I have never been as scared in my life as when I was on my way to the first lesson! Looking back, I think this was a good thing, as you work better under these conditions and can guard against too much confidence.
I quickly found something very important which has served me, and still serves me, in my work here, and that is that students are perfectly normal human beings, with whom you can build professional relationships as I used to do in previous jobs. Get this part right and the rest of the teaching job becomes much easier, particularly where respect and motivation are concerned. I must underline that over the last 19 years I have met a lot of very interesting people from whom I have learnt a lot too, particularly concerning their sectors of activity and their personal views on life. The feeling that you have helped them towards their objectives is the payback for all the hard work.
Of course, you sometimes get some amusing situations during lessons, which enrich the job further. These often relate to misuse of works in an amusing way, or involve words they have learnt from colleagues, but which do not form part of our teaching programmes! Sometimes a bit of diplomacy is required.
The job has also enabled me to specialize in one or two areas, such as English exams and continuous training. In this latter area I frequently share my knowledge of an aspect of our work with other teachers. This is generally in the area of exams, but more recently we have developed a session entitled How can we delight our Customers? dealing precisely with the relational aspect of our work, which I referred to in an earlier paragraph. I enjoy this activity of sharing experience with colleagues and encourage teachers to participate in continuous training sessions.
I could continue for a long time, but I have not been asked to write a book (maybe I should one day) so I will close now by saying that, looking back on the last 19 years I am now sure that I have made good decisions all along the line – good decisions in leaving BP, in working in a different sector using a combination of acquired and new skills and in choosing Supercomm, who works predominantly with business clients. This has given me the opportunity to live a different lifestyle, using different skills and qualities compared with my first career, for which I am very grateful.
If you would like to discuss any points with me further, please feel free to have a coffee with me sometime (I don’t drink tea!). It will be a pleasure.