How success can emerge from failure

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The headlines are full of jubilant A-star pupils punching the air. But if you didn’t quite make the grade and you won’t be heading for college, don’t despair. Success is still within your grasp...

The headlines are full of jubilant A-star pupils punching the air. But if you didn’t quite make the grade and you won’t be heading for college, don’t despair. Success is still within your grasp...

Kevin Flint bunked out of A levels after only a couple of months - but believes two of life’s mottos qualified him far better than any exams every could. They were taught to him at an early age by his parents.

“Respect your elders and work hard, because you get out of life what you put into it - those were the most valuable lessons I ever learned,” says Kevin, who is general manager of a 1,400-strong city taxi company.

“I believe those are still the most important things any young person can take into the world of work.

“Being polite and respectful to the people you work with, and putting effort into everything you do, will mark you out for success regardless of what qualifications you have. Those attributes have served me well for 32 years of work,” says Kevin, a 49-year-old father of five who could well have been seen as a failure after turning his back on study.

Recalls Kevin: “I was bright at school - I got seven O levels at Brook Secondary school in Handsworth and was accepted for A-levels at Richmond College.

“But I just didn’t apply myself. I skipped lessons and after a few months decided to bail out,” he says.

Quitting academia wasn’t all his fault. “My parents were divorcing at the time, but in those days you never thought about telling your teachers what was going on at home.”

At 17 Kevin landed a place on a government-funded Youth Training Scheme at Debenhams.

The school drop-out found himself feeling secure and happy in what he remembers as a nurturing workplace. He worked hard, gained the trust of colleagues and bosses, and at 19 was given a full-time job. It springboarded him into becoming a home-owner.

“Being at work was the making of me. It made me become more responsible,” he says. “I left home at 19 and bought a home of my own, a three-bed terraced in Hillsborough for £15,000. I learned how to manage myself and my finances.”

By 21 he was an assistant manager at Debenhams and he swiftly became relief manager for the department store’s furniture and beds sections across the country.

But by 26, he was jobless - Debenhams sold the furniture side of their business to a company which folded.

Jobs were hard to come by and, married with one child, he decided the only thing to do was to graft his way back up again.

He became a driver for City Taxis, then moved into the taxi company office. “I started at the bottom as a telephonist and worked in every role in the business before I became general manager,” he says.

“I now manage 1,400 self-employed contractors and over 100 City employees.

“There are lots of opportunities out there for you if you are a hard-worker and you make a real effort to get on with people at work.”