Author: Jackie Stapleton
As another year comes to an end, it is more significant for me, as my youngest son finishes Year 12. The end of an era. No more school fees or homework!
But what is sticking in my mind the most is that when I share this news, the first question people seem to ask is:
'So, what is he going to do now?’
I’m sure in most cases this is a harmless question, however, it also comes with ‘expectations’. It seems that the answer should be something like ‘university’ or an ‘apprenticeship’ or why not ‘a pilot’! Now, this could be totally my issue here, but I think it’s still good to share and have a think about.
And by the way, the answer is ‘none of the above’. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do now! He’s 16 years old for goodness sake. And to be honest it doesn’t matter what he does now. He has a lifetime of discovery ahead of him to find his ‘thing’ or what makes him happy.
I was having this discussion with my ‘eyebrow lady’ this week and she reminded me of what Heath Ledger was known to say.
I then started thinking about the path that I followed after Year 12. Did you want to know what I did straight out of school? Wait for it ………..
I worked in a sawmill, and it wasn’t in the office! I was the first female to work at the sawmill at the age of 17 and I cut and stacked timber. That’s right! Imagine the shock and horror to all the onlookers. What would I ever make of myself doing that job! You know what? It didn’t matter. Every single job I have had was a stepping stone and learning process for me to get where I am today.
What did I learn at a sawmill?
How to use hand tools and power tools, work with men and what tongue and groove, bullnose and chamfered mouldings were! I also ran the cleanest shed in the history of the sawmill, I think!
I then skipped from this job to a Legal Secretary – do they even call them that these days? Here I took shorthand and typed up correspondence on an old manual typewriter. Both of these practices are now obsolete – now I’m showing my age, aren’t I? What did I learn? How to work with women, learn new technology when electric typewriters and Dictaphones came in, how a solicitors office was run and most importantly respect.
I also worked with my husband who laid floor covering at the time. I was back on the tools but this time laying flooring and carpet cleaning. What did I learn? Not to work with my husband (ex-husband now) whoops!, running your own business, taxation, paying wages, how to lift correctly and quality workmanship.
I then went on to be what they called a Commission Agent for a service station chain. Effectively managing the Service Station as your own, employing your own staff and so on. I didn’t just sit in the back office though, I chipped in with everything. What did I learn? Customer Service, that men’s toilets are always cleaner than women’s toilets, the fuel industry, retail, how to fill gas bottles and work long hours!
It was at this point that an opportunity arose to work for the software company that installed the Point of Sale and Back office system at the service station. They were looking for ‘lived experience’ staff from the industry that had used the software in the real world and could relate to their customers. This is also where I was introduced to ISO 9001:1994 – the love of my life
From there it was a learning journey with other ISO standards and most of all sharing this love with other people, either through auditing, building systems or training.
And the rest is history!
Now that I am the Director of Auditor Training Online and a Certification Auditor, and still studying and learning with big ideas in my head – looking back at my Year 12 self nearly 35 years ago, would I ever have imagined this from my first job at the sawmill? To be honest, I probably did as I always had a bigger picture in mind. But that was my picture to follow and learn from, not anybody else's picture to judge me on. I’ve since learned about myself that what I love about what I do is the sharing and getting people just as excited about learning as I am. The ISO Standards and auditing are just the ‘thing’ or the ‘tool’ that I use to share. I just want to contribute to peoples lives and businesses in a positive way, no matter what the ‘thing’ or the ‘tool’ is that I share.
It’s a constant self-discovery.
I have to end this by saying, all the best to my 2 gorgeous sons who are on their own journey and I know you will find your way. To everyone, enjoy every opportunity you are given and always look at what you can learn or take away as a transferable skill to build upon the most important person - YOU.
If you’d like to contact me to discuss your journey, I’m only too happy to connect. You can find me on LinkedIn.