26/08/2010, Hazel Tilley
Loic Menzies is an ’06 Ambassador who taught Citizenship and was Head of History and Social Sciences as well as an Associate Senior Manager at St George’s Catholic School in Westminster. He left the classroom last July to set up his own Education Consultancy, L.K.M Consulting. Working with institutions such as Canterbury Christchurch University and the National Youth Agency to name only a few, his work draws together his experience of youth-work, teaching, policy and management.
When we caught up with him, this is what he had to say about setting up his own venture after his time in the classroom:
What made you leave the classroom to set-up L.K.M Consultancy?
It actually came as quite a surprise to me! I’d meant to take a year out to be a ski rep or something but people began to ask me if I could do some work for them and I thought, why not? It seemed to make sense. I soon realised that given my background in youth-work and youth-policy before joining Teach First, there was a definite niche for someone who could bring together experience of the different sectors that define young people’s lives. I’ve also always had a knack for problem solving by carefully analyzing situations and thinking creatively. This sort of work gives me the flexibility and independence to manage my own time, be innovative and pursue my ideas.
Was it a bit of a leap in the dark?
The first stage wasn’t too scary as I was just responding to demand but once I made the decision to make a full time career out of it, I was much more nervous. I always have to be really proactive about making sure I have enough projects lined up- but then, that’s also what I love about it. I really enjoy having a mixture of totally different projects on the go: teacher training and INSET one day, third-sector strategic work another and then a bit of classroom teaching thrown in to the cocktail!
How has being part of the Ambassador Community helped you get your business off the ground?
I really enjoy having like minded people to bounce ideas around with. There are an increasing number of active social entrepreneurs amongst the ambassadors and I always learn from what they are doing. There are a number of ambassadors I didn’t even know before leaving school but to whom I speak regularly now. We’ve collaborated in recent months and I’m really pleased to get a chance to do that. I’m sure the time will come when we work together on some sort of group project.
What are your plans for the future?
I want an increasing number of people to recognise the name L.K.M Consulting. I want them to benefit as much as possible from my insights into what goes on in the sector and for more people to hear my ideas. I want people to know that that the support they get from me will be founded on a real understanding of the needs and experiences of young people. Hopefully they’ll feel confident coming to me for strategic leadership advice, quality assurance and improvement planning as well as training and mentoring.
I also want to spend more time drawing together what I have seen in different organisations. It’s important that I put aside time for academic thinking about the lessons I’m learning. I’ve begun to do this with my work on Diversity and Community Cohesion at Canterbury Christchurch University, my chapter for the forthcoming Policy First report and a couple of articles that I’ve put together recently.
What words of advice would you give an ambassador looking to follow in your footsteps?
Firstly, make sure you’ve got a good track record: there’s no point trying to train teachers if you haven’t been an “Outstanding” teacher yourself and there’s no point advising Senior Management Teams if you’ve never worked on one. Secondly, make sure you know the territory: there are so many organisations working in the youth sector. Some would see it as competition. Instead, I think filling the gaps between them so that they serve young people better is an amazing opportunity. For example, the Divine Communications Trust came to me recently for business strategy advice on how to spread their brilliant “Bina” personal and social development program into more schools (www.divinecommunicationstrust.org.uk). It was important that I had comprehensive knowledge of all the different niches the program could tap into and how other organisations active in this area operate. Similarly, I’ve been talking to three different literacy projects recently and each of them is doing great work but they can all learn a lot from each other, building those bridges is where I come in.
Where do you see the Ambassador Community/ movement within the next five years and how will the Social Entrepreneurship Programme further support ambassadors looking to set-up their own ventures?
There are so many ways to challenge educational disadvantage and ambassadors have such amazing ideas about how to do so- it’s really quite inspiring! I think our community will do an increasingly impressive job of putting ideas into practice so that we respond to the whole range of young people’s needs. Cross pollination of ideas, practical support and joint ventures are the means to that and the Social Entrepreneurship Programme promises all three.
To find out more what Loic is up to, read his blog and vote on topical issues, visit his website www.lkmconsulting.co.uk.
You can follow him on Twitter for regular updates on the Education, Youth and Policy sectors @LKMco or find “L.K.M Consulting” on Facebook.
You can email him at [email protected]
If you’d like to find out more about how the Social Entrepreneurship Programme can support you and your business venture email [email protected] or visit the ‘Social Entrepreneurship Programme’ section of the AmbassadorNet.
If you’d like to explore how Social Entrepreneurship can address educational disadvantage, come along to our event on the 30th September.
If you’d like to find out more about Policy First and how it provides a forum through which ambassadors can disseminate their views on current educational issues through debates, focus groups, consultation with policy makers and the policy publication Loic mentions above, please email [email protected] or visit the Policy First section of the AmbassadorNet.