1. Tell us about yourself.
I am the Managing Director of Silva Legal Services and a non practising Solicitor. I attended ARU IN 1989 to study law. I graduated with a 2:2 in 1992. I subsequently went to Guildford Law School in 1992 (now the University of Law). I passed the Law Society Finals in 1993. I could not find a Training Contract so took a role in the post room of a general practice firm, Evill and Coleman. This gave me the opportunity to work in a Law firm and as a result of some persuasive nagging I was allowed to do some Court Clerking in addition to dealing with the general administration of the post room. After three months I was offered a Training Contract. I remained at Evill and Coleman for ten years specialising in Clinical negligence claims. I moved twice more and during my last role I set up a medical consultancy to assist other clinical negligence solicitors. The work related to reviewing and ordering medical records which can be rather voluminous. I started this with one nurse. After two years I decided to cease practising law as a clinical negligence solicitor and concentrated on the business. I set up at home on my dining room table with assistance from one nurse. I then built a shed office and worked from home for a few years. I now have an office in Redhill, Surrey, with three staff who deal with administration. I have a team of 25 doctors and nurses who deal with the work of analysing the records.
2. What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?
The University was a lot smaller then compared to now, so it meant that you got to know many people from lots of different courses. The Students' Union events were well attended so you made lots of friends. I am pleased to say I am still in contact with a few friends from University some 25 years later.
3. What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate?
Preparation is key... to study, for work, life in general. If you can be as prepared as possible it will hold you in good stead. This means a number of things but if you try and cover as many bases of possible outcomes then whatever is thrown at you should be workable.
4. What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst you were studying?
That not achieving what you want at a certain times can mean failure, but that's alright. There are lots of times where I have either failed, or not achieved and thought the world would end. Far from it.... failure and disappointment can often lead to opportunities and success!
5. How did your time at Anglia Ruskin help you?
Without studying law I would not have qualified as a Solicitor... without being a Solicitor I would not have seen a niche business opportunity. This then gave me the potential to have my own business, have a fantastic work-life balance which then meant I have spent a large part of my life with my children, to include school runs, attending school activities and generally being around.
6. What did you love about your chosen course?
The great thing was the various types of options together with the variety of lecturers. They were all so different and added to the topics they taught.
7. What would you tell someone thinking of studying at ARU?
Since I have left I have kept an eye on the development of the University... from the large scale building development to the range of courses. I see they now teach medicine which is an amazing credit to the University. Attending such a university should only benefit those who attend.
8. In one word how would you describe Anglia Ruskin?
9. Who was the biggest influence on your career?
My dad. It sounds cliché but he was an amazing man. He supported me when my A levels didn't go to plan. He supported my decision to change from a science based degree to law. He was a huge factor in giving up law to start my business. If he had said it was a bad idea, I would have questioned my decision. My dad sadly passed away in May and when asked if his children made him proud, he answered yes. That's all I could hope for. He always said each generation must be more successful than the last. Not in financial terms but as people, our skill set, education, hobbies and in personal growth. It's something that will always stay with me.
10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Aged 42 I started Tae Kwon Do. As a child I always wanted to do a martial art. Sadly in my 5th lesson I completed ruptured my Achilles tendon. After a few months I started classes again. I managed to carry on and continue to grade. In 2016 I attended the World Open and won a Gold medal for non Black Belt in patterns. In 2017 I was promoted to 1st Degree Black Belt. I have just graded for my 2nd Degree and am awaiting my result!
11. What advice would you give your younger self?
Not to let adversity stop you. There are many times when you think things have worked against you. What you don't realise is that the circumstances at that time are actually leading you to a better place. We always look at the "now" not realising the future has so many opportunities ahead and we just need to take a different route which will help us get there. In business I have had to walk away from money to separate from a business partner. At the time it was painful and took months to make that decision. As soon as I did it, it was a weight off my shoulders which meant focus returned and helped grow what I had... if only I had realised earlier!
12. What drives you?
Success. Sounds egotistical but I like to see things come to fruition. This is not about money but setting your mind to something and when it seems unlikely, still managing to pull it off. That piece of work that couldn't be done in the short time-frame or winning a contract that much larger firms were bound to win.... money should never be a driving force. I am not so naive to think money doesn't matter in business - if you make no money, what business do you have...? It's about setting goals. I try and use what my father said as a template, I like to try and ensure each year is better than the last. New projects? New clients? Even a new business ... last year I invested in a new business, and as it's small I set targets to ensure we are trying to improve and grow.
13. What’s next?
If I knew what the future holds, I'd buy a lottery ticket. ... joking aside with a young family (boys of 12 and 9), I will strive to work hard and instil the positive ethics and values in them. Don't get me wrong, I am far from perfect and I need to grow myself. I am not sure whether that's by way of more study, further Tae Kwon Do, or just an increase in self awareness and growth. Whatever it will be, I am sure life will never be easy. However with strength of family, faith and hard work surely it can't be too bad.