James Blower, a former student who has gone on to a successful career in finance, returned to his roots last week when he visited City Academy Norwich to talk to students about his career journey.
As Mr Blower – who attended Earlham High School from 1989 to 1995 – shared with students, his path to becoming a savings expert was far from easy and it was not a career he had envisaged getting into as a teenager.
During a series of talks at the Academy, Mr Blower told students that “I wasn’t a natural at studying and I found some of the subjects tough”. In particular, he said, he was “way out of my depth” at maths. Perhaps surprisingly, for someone who was destined to become successful in the world of banking, he gave up A Level maths and switched instead to study history (alongside media and geography A Levels).
Mr Blower also recounted how his time at school had been challenging because he knew very few other students when he joined Earlham High School, as most of his friends attended other schools.
After finishing his A Levels, Mr Blower went on to a law degree at UEA and then secured a place with Barclays Bank on their graduate scheme. Over time in his career he has developed an expertise in savings, which saw him working with 5 new banks, setting up and running retail savings businesses as well as starting his own consultancy enterprise.
As well as talking students through some of the ups and downs of his learning and career journey, Mr Blower also gave tips on CV writing, how to stand out when applying for jobs, and what they should be doing now that will help them improve their chances of getting into their chosen career in the future.
A key theme in his discussions with students was the importance of finding and developing your passion. Mr Blower said:
“Everyone’s passion is different. The only person you will have to answer to is yourself. You will spend 40 or 45 years working, so find what it is that you want to do, the career you want to follow, not what somebody else tells you is a good one or what you think your parents want you to do.”
Commenting on the experience of returning to City Academy Norwich, which is a very different place to the former school he remembers, he added:
“It’s a fantastic school, the facilities they’ve got are amazing. It’s a lovely set up, the resources, the number of teachers, it’s gone to another level now. It’s a very impressive school to walk through the doors of.”
Mary Sparrow, principal, City Academy Norwich, commented:
“It was invaluable for our students to meet James and to hear how he has got to where he is today in his career. In addition to the many helpful insights and tips that James was able to give, it was great for our students to hear about the ups and downs along the way, and to see that there is no reason why they can’t follow a similar path to exciting international career opportunities if they want to.”
Pictured: Year 11 students (L-R) Andrew Afriyie, Harry Shreeve, Danielle Chiesa, Josh Alderton and Alfie Cole, with James Blower.