International Women’s Day - From Tutor to COO

As we celebrate International Women's Day, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey that has brought me from a tutor in December 2002 to my current roles as COO and Company Director here at Explore Learning

It's been over 20 years filled with growth, learning, and the privilege of supporting over 350,000 children to become fearless learners.

The beginnings - December 2002

Back in 2002, I started as a tutor at our Peterborough centre. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a journey that would take me through various roles, from being a Centre Manager and Regional Manager to leading our Learning and Development initiatives. The excitement I feel today as I shape the future of this business is only matched by the pride I have for the impact we've had on the fearless learners we've nurtured.

Serendipity in career choices - summer of 2002

My journey began after graduating in the summer of 2002 with no concrete career plan. Working three jobs, including tutoring at Explore Learning, I was contemplating a career in education when my Centre Manager suggested a different path – a management role within Explore. It became clear that my future was intertwined with working closely with people and embracing the art of multitasking.

Passionate fearless learning

My role has become more than a job; it's a passion for fearless learning. Every year brings new lessons and challenges, and I believe in practising what we preach. Our mission to nurture fearless learners who thrive in their education and beyond is not just for our members but is mirrored in how we nurture talent within our organisation, supporting me to thrive in my career.

Lessons learned

1) Learn from everyone around you

Throughout my career, I've discovered the power of learning from those around me. Identifying individuals who excel in their roles and inspire others has been a cornerstone of my professional growth. I make it a practice to observe them in action, listen intently, and never shy away from asking questions. The wealth of knowledge that surrounds us is a valuable resource that shouldn't be overlooked.

2) Embrace conversations and debates

My best ideas and inspiration never come to me in isolation. I've always found that the most fruitful moments arise from engaging in lively conversations and interesting debates. While I may not be a fan of the term 'networking,' I actively seek out opportunities to share and learn from others. It's in these dynamic interactions that creativity flourishes, and new perspectives emerge.

3) Learn and grow from mistakes

Some of the most important lessons in my journey have stemmed from moments of failure. Rather than dwelling on setbacks, I capture the learning, move forward, and ensure not to make the same mistake twice. 

Much as we teach at Explore Learning, I’ve embraced mistakes as a stepping stone to success. This has been instrumental in my continuous growth and development.

4) Raise up those around you

The achievements in my career are not solely my own; they are the result of collaboration with wonderful individuals. I take great joy in spotting potential in people and identifying their strengths before they recognise them in themselves. I'm particularly passionate about supporting women in the workplace, providing the confidence boost and encouragement needed for them to take the next step in their careers.

5) Find your cheerleaders

Throughout my journey, I've been fortunate to have important mentors or, as I like to call them, cheerleaders. From a Managing Director with different lived experiences who instilled confidence in me to Bill Mills, our CEO, who has consistently backed high-potential talent, their trust has been invaluable. Currently, I am privileged to work with a fantastic mentor – an entrepreneur, board advisor, and investor. She's a powerhouse focused on empowering female leaders and founders, making me feel truly unstoppable.

6) Seek joy in and out of work

In the hustle and bustle of our professional lives, it's essential to seek out what brings us joy. Whether inside or outside of work, these moments of joy not only serve as a reminder of our purpose but also offer fresh perspectives. Even during challenging times when the to-do list seems never-ending, these little moments of joy provide the clarity needed to approach obstacles from a completely different angle.

Nurturing fearless learners, empowering women: A journey of growth to celebrate International Women’s Day

As we celebrate International Women's Day, I look back on my journey – a journey that wouldn't have been possible without the incredible mentors and cheerleaders who believed in me. From a tutor with no clear plan to a COO shaping the future, my path has been shaped by fearless learning, empowerment, and finding joy in the journey.

Here’s to all the fearless learners, and here's to a future where women continue to thrive and lead in every sphere.

With gratitude, Lisa Haycox COO, Explore Learning


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