Jamie Smith - Executive Director, South Staffs College
" I started to realise that my path to a better life was education. I realised much later in life that the only solution to all of the world's problems is education."
Name: Jamie Smith
Studied at HHS: 1985 to 1990
Current role: Executive Director for Engagement, South Staffordshire College
Route after leaving HHS
I did well with my GCSEs and stayed on at the sixth form centre. I got some A Levels and went on to be the first in the history of my family to make it to university. Alongside that, I was also being very entrepreneurial and as the internet came along (yes I am that old) I started an Ebay business and made a lot of money. I then bought some houses and made a lot more money, and then I got into the stock market and did the same again.
I was then asked to publish a book about how I had done it, so my book, 'Making Money from Stocks and Shares,' is now on Amazon!
Alongside my business life, my day job has always been education. It's my mission in life because I realised a long time ago that it really is the only way to transform your life chances. On that basis, I have worked all over the world in the area of education technology, given presentations in the USA and London and all over with companies like IBM and Google and wider. I was invited, on the back of being recognised as a thought leader in education, to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and I was invited to deliver a TEDx talk also which was titled 'Education in the Digital Age'.
I now spend my time as a senior executive in education, the Chair of a Governing body and various other education related commitments.
What are your memories of HHS?
At that time my life was not great. I lived with my mother only who also had a disability and struggled to walk by the age of 30. I had two brothers and the entire family lived on around £35 per week. I had taken my first job at the age of nine as I had to in order to buy clothes so it wasn't exactly a brilliant time for me, teenage years, but it did give me one hell of a work ethic. Back then I didn't have much time to play with any toys and we couldn't afford them anyway but I did have one. A Porsche toy car. My mother used to ask me back then, 'do you think you will ever have one?' I used to humour her by saying 'yes, sure, one day' as I knew it would make her happy but the honest response was that to me back then she may as well have said 'do you think you will walk on Mars one day?'
I look back on my time at the school with pride. It's a special place and I am so thrilled to see that not only is it still there, but that it's thriving. Many of my fellow students from Heathfield back then have now gone on to live all over the world and we do keep in touch. Some stayed local but many went to places like Vancouver and wider and they have done well.
The one part of my world that was stable and secure would be education and school. It was a place where I found I was nurtured and stretched and challenged. There were a number of brilliant teachers, Dr David Simpson being just one of them. He inspired me, a lot. He opened up a world of literature and back then I quite fancied this romantic idea of being a bit of an inspiring teacher myself. I started to realise that my path to a better life was education. I realised much later in life that the only solution to all of the world's problems is education.
I became quite entrepreneurial. I was encouraged to strive by the teachers who surrounded me and had belief in me when sometimes I didn't.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Best advice I could give to young people? Be curious, positive, resilient, courageous and happy. Connect with everyone around you and never stop learning. Remember that everyone you meet knows something you don't and everyone has a story. Open your ears and it will open your mind and that will open a world of opportunity.
We live in a very connected world now and students would be well advised to see the global possibilities it offers. I genuinely believe we live in the most exciting time in all of human history and the opportunities are unprecedented.
Oh, and if my mum was still alive, I am sure she would be proud to see that I did, indeed, get that Porsche.