Heritage Consultant
What do you do for a living?
I am a free-lance consultant and advise on the care of artworks, artefacts and collections in museums, historic houses and private collections. I help owners of these collections provide good environments for their posessions by making sure it is neither too damp nor too dry, and light levels do not cause fading or other damage. I help them create suitable stores for artefacts that are not on display, and work with architects and engineers to help them design and build buildings that provide a suitable and stable indoor climate for collections, preferably in a sustainable way. I am also distributor for equipment that museums use to measure temperature, humidity and light levels, and do all the sales, site testing and calibration in Scotland.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction? 
As a child I was really interested in polishing my parents’ things and making them look beautiful, but it was only much later that I learned about the job of conservator. I liked making things with textiles (knitting, embroidering, sewing, etc). I chose this career after first having done something else, so did not get any advise for this direction from school.


What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Through career-interest tests in P6 I discovered I had a strong interest in making art/craft things, but I could not imagine I would do this as a job and for a long time mainly saw it as a hobby. After secondary education (with languages, history and geography) I went on to do secretary-training and worked at a bank for a year. During this year I did an evening course and got a qualifiation to teach sewing and other textile techniques in primary school (the primary schools in my country did not have specialist art teachers but did have specialist sewing/knitting/textile teachers to teach the girls ‘useful skills’). I never worked as a primary teacher, but went on to do teacher training college in textiles and art.

This gave me a qualification to teach in secondary school. I still didn’t get a teacher’s job (there weren’t very many at the time, and I got more pleasure out of making things myself rather than teaching others) and instead ended up working in a fabric shop for a year and running some evening classes. A colleague in the shop had just graduated in Textile Conservation, and when I saw this advertised I decided to enter the course. In the final year I had to do two placements, one of which I did in Edinburgh at the National Museums of Scotland. I ended up getting offered a temporary job at the museum, whilst still having to do my exams back in Holland, and came to Edinburgh after my exams for the 9-month contract.

After this I discovered that a new job was being created in Edinburgh in Preventive Conservation, this was about preventing damage from happening to museum artefacts instead of repairing things after they got damaged. I was offered this job, did it for 4 years (advising museums on how to look after their collections), then moved to the National Trust for Scotland and set up a similar job there working with the historic houses, eventually becoming Senior Conservator. After the birth of my son I wanted to work more flexibly and set up my own business in Collection Care, working 4 days a week.. In 2008 I decided to go to University to study Sustainable Heritage and graduated with an MSc the next year (my first university degree at the age of 48!). I still work four days a week.


Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
My days can vary a lot, when I’m at my desk I ususally spend the first hour(s) on emails. The emails may contain orders for new equipment, which I then place with the manufacturer, who sends it directly to the client. There may be invoices that need to be paid (I do that via the internet) or there may be questions about equipment that isn’t working properly, or a request for me to come and look at a museum or store.

Then I might be writing a report about the environment in a historic house, or a short summary letter after a visit to a client to talk about the environment in their museum. I may have some pieces of equipment that need to be repaired (usually means soldering in a new battery or sending it back tot the manufacturer), and there may be some administration that I need to do: keep track of, and record all the orders, invoices and payments, prepare information for the Accountants or renew my professional insurance, write invoices to clients and make sure I get paid.

At the moment I’m also writing a talk which I will be giving at a conference in Glasgow in April. This is about Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott in Melrose, which is being completely refurbished and where I oversee all the work related to the collections.

When I’m not at my desk I’m with a client for maintenance and calibration of their equipment, or for a meeting about a project (like Abbotsford where I meet monthly), or to advise them on their temperature and humidity. I cover all of Scotland and the north of England, and sometimes am away for several days at a time.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No, I wanted to be an artist, but didn’t think my parents would approve. I never asked them though!


What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They were quite open about what I wanted to do, but at the same time I thought they wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job. They were pleased when I did secretary training (my mum was a secretary), and were fine with my choice of teacher training college. My only regret is that I didn’t ask them what they would have thought of me going to art college.


What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
I would advise anyone interested in any career to follow their heart and their interests and not worry too much about ‘earning a lot’ or ‘having a career’. Nearly every job will give you opportunities to acquire skills that can also be applied elsewhere. As part of my career I learned to use computers, word processing, spreadsheet and database programmes as well as the internet, I learned to solder, to do minor repairs, to be able to maintain finance admininstration and accounts for my small business. Most of all I learned to identify and solve problems and to use lateral thinking for it. All of these skills would be of use in other types of jobs.

The fullfillment of the jobs I have done has been in the pleasure that I have got out of them for doing my job and doing it well, helping people wihere they didn’t have the skills or knowledge themselves, the many different museums I have seen, and the fact that I was (and am) working for and with charities (many museums have charitable status), and not for organisations where my or the organisation’s main goal is to make money.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could work in a museum or historic house organisation rather than be self-employed;

I could focus on the development of sustainable approaches to the care of collections, looking at energy use for the provision of good environmental conditions and how energy could be saved;

I could combine with my teaching background and teach conservation students about preventive conservation and sustainability; 

I could combine with my secretary background and become administrator at a museum or conservation course.

High School teacher
What do you do for a living?
High School English teacher.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
My mother was also a teacher, although a Physics teacher! I was very fortunate to have maintained strong links with my High School so I quickly gained work experience which allowed me to feel more confident in my career choice. Speaking to people within the profession was invaluable.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I completed my undergraduate degree in English Language before moving on to a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. The PGDE year is quite intense, as it involves three placements in different schools, with ‘crit’ lessons that are observed by tutors from the University. We also had to complete a number of assessed units, with detailed lesson plans and worksheets for pupils. In order to fully qualify as a teacher I had to complete a probationary year in a school, which involved several observed lessons, CPD sessions and personal reading/research.

Since becoming a teacher I have continued to attend CPD events, and I have been fortunate to have experienced roles within the school which have challenged me as a professional. Most recently I have been involved with pupil support, and also as a supporter to a teacher in their probation year.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Working in a school, your days and indeed years are very structured. I will see a variety of classes each day, introducing and working through activities dependent on the year group. If I have ‘non-contact’ time, I will often be found marking or preparing material for a lesson.

Due to the nature of the English curriculum, I often have quite a bit of work to do when I return home too!

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Whilst I harbored some desire to become a journalist, I always knew that teaching was an incredibly rewarding job. It’s fair to say I’ve always thought that teaching was something I wanted to do.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
When I was very young my mum thought that I would make a good nurse (because I smiled a lot), but I don’t think they ever really had a fixed idea in mind for my career. They were happy to let me find my way for myself!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
I would strongly advise observing lessons and get some experience working with young people. You will know very quickly if this is something which suits you and if you enjoy the role. I would not say teaching is easy, but it can be easier if you are passionate about your subject. You have to know your stuff, love the subject, and love sharing it with others.

What other directions could you go in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Educational policy and government work is often a draw for teachers. I have known of several teachers becoming politicians and social workers, as ultimately teachers have a strong desire to help improve the lives of others.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
I absolutely love teaching, and whilst I find it stressful at points, I would say to anyone interested in it to give it a go. You get so much back for what you give.

Hot air balloon pilot
What do you do for a living?
I am an international hot air balloon and thermal airship pilot working most recently in the UK, Burma, Tanzania, Turkey and Canada but having also flown in Spain, USA, Italy, France and Germany (to name but a few)

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I worked as ground crew at Glasgow airport and was invited to take a flight in the company hot air balloon. I enjoyed it so much the pilot, who was leaving the company, suggested they give me the balloon and I find somebody to teach me to get my pilots licence.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
I left school with very few qualifications and got a job at the airport working as ground crew. After that first flight I found a pilot willing to teach me and I studied for my pilots exams including air law and navigation, meteorological studies as well as the technical aspects of ballooning. Once I qualified as a private pilot I built my hours flying in Scotland, throughout the UK and overseas in Italy.

I became qualified as a commercial pilot after gaining the requisite number of flying hours and was offered a job as pilot for a Hot Air Ballooning company in Skipton, North Yorkshire flying the general public.

After a year with the firm in Skipton I decided to set up my own operation in Scotland and over a number of years built it up to become the largest Hot Air Balloon operator in the north of Britain, before downsizing and moving into corporate sponsorship.

A few years ago I suffered a bout of extreme ill health and with the family made the decision to fulfil a lifetimes ambition to fly an overseas contract. My first job was 5 months of flying in Tanzania living and working in a national park with elephants, zebra, lions and giraffes. This was followed by 5 months flying balloons in Turkey before moving on for 3 months to fly in Canada. I spent the last part of 2012 working in Burma, flying balloons over the many temples. I am returning to Burma again in October 2013 for 3-4 months.

Whilst ballooning I have also qualified to fly Thermal Airships. Whilst balloonists are a rare breed it is a fact that there are more astronauts in the world than there are Airship Pilots.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Whilst in the UK I will drive to an event, such as the London Marathon, tether the balloon ensuring it gains as much publicity for my client as possible before packing up and returning home. If I’m flying I’ll set up at an event, meet and greet the clients, fly for an hour and return them safely to the launch site.

Whilst overseas I am woken at 5am by my crew, driven to the take off site where my balloon has already been inflated and the guests collected. I step in to the balloon, fly for one hour, showing the passengers the sites before landing. Once landed I am then driven back to my accommodation for some breakfast after which I am free for the rest of the day. Generally speaking I am finished by 9am and can enjoy my time either going on Safari drives (Tanzania), visiting temples or sunbathing by the private pool (Burma) or going for motorbike rides into the Rockies (Canada).

Being a balloon pilot overseas is an incredible privilege. Pilots are treated extremely well with a very high standard of living. The camaraderie with colleagues, both crew and other pilots makes for a very enjoyable time away from home.

Because I have so many free hours and have gained many contacts within the Media I have been able to come up with TV Show formats leading to discussions with production companies both in the UK and the US. This is something that Scotair Global Ltd will be building on in 2013/2014.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No, for many years I was in a band as a drummer and it was my dream to make it big in the music industry. We came close but as the saying goes ‘close but no cigar’

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They didn’t mind. They were very supportive of my wish to make it in the music industry and supported my decision to become a pilot with equal gusto.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Come and speak to me.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am one of the very lucky few to be offered contracts in some of the most beautiful parts of the world with the best companies in the world.

Human Resources manager
What do you do for a living?
I work in Human Resources – in the past have done generalist roles and currently specialise in Employment policy.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I started as a young management trainee with Marks and Spencer, which involved training in all aspects of management before I chose to specialise
in HR. The career support was very poor and I did a lot of personal research to find this opportunity.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
As above, management training scheme, learning on the job, augmented by business lead development in workshops. Opportunities exist to do professional development qualification, which is now very desirable although when I was training it was less so. I would encourage everyone now to do it.

Talk us through a day in your life.
I work in a Group (or head office) based role, therefore the work I do impacts the entire company which employs over 100,000 people. I might have meetings with key stakeholders for a project I’m managing or a policy I’m developing to gather feedback or views. I might have to meet with our Union representatives to discuss and negotiate any changes that need to be made or any developments that we want to explore.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Yes, when I was 18 I knew Iwanted to work in a people role and in a management capacity. However, from the age of 10 until I was about 16, I wanted to be a journalist and my other options when I left school were related University courses which I had secured offers for.

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents wanted me to do what would make me happy, although my Dad, having had to do his degree at night while he worked full time, had wanted me to go to university as he saw it as a fantastic opportunity. He was surprised when I told him I wanted to do the Management training course instead, but he was supportive and very proud of my achievements.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Now, I would advise them to explore a HR/business degree and complete their CIPD. I would also encourage them to explore the various options that exist as HR management is, from my experience quite different to the standard grade curriculum.

What other career directions could you go in?
I currently specialise in Employment policy, but could also work in Reward, Learning and Devlopment, Employee Relations, Employee engagement or I could work as a business partner working to support the managers who lead the business. With the skills I’ve developed, I could also work in Change or Project management