Country of origin: United Kingdom
Director, SixBySix Performance
Entrepreneurship – it’s all about spotting opportunities and exploiting them. When BA Management and Entrepreneurship student Tim Hudson spied an ad for a Marketing Assistant in the local paper two days before the end of his Christmas vacation, he knew he had to act fast.
Tim's initial calls to Lane4 were diverted, as the company wanted not a placement student starting in July but a permanent employee from February. But persistence paid off: Tim persuaded the company’s head of marketing to meet him for ten minutes – and evidently made an impression. Some months later, having failed to recruit, she called Tim back to offer him the job as a placement.
Lane4 was founded in 1995 by Olympic gold medallist Adrian Moorhouse and sports psychologist Professor Graham Jones, and has since opened offices in Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong and the US. With a core staff of around 70, and a far larger global network of associate consultants, it provides consultancy services to many leading companies on organisational performance, leadership development and executive coaching.
Lane4 shows how techniques used in sports performance can be applied to business – for example, how feedback can influence people developmentally and motivationally, and how organisations can create environments which are conducive to giving and receiving feedback and to getting the best out of staff.
Breadth of experience
Initially Tim worked largely in the Marketing department, looking after branded materials, managing the early stages of a website redesign, co-ordinating PR with external PR agents, and providing general support.
"As with any small company, you end up being a body wherever you’re needed. It gives you such an incredible view of the company – you get to see so much of it. And it provided so many opportunities to meet and work with some truly amazing people.
"I loved every minute of it – I can’t think of a day when I didn’t want to go into work. But it’s also been one of the steepest learning curves of my life. The people were wonderful – very kind and willing to offer support as and when needed, but also, crucially, to offer challenges that pushed me to exceed my own expectations."
Some of those challenges fell outside ‘normal’ concepts of work, as Lane4 encouraged many different activities to improve wellbeing and allow staff to get to know one another on a different level.
"I made it my mission to join in everything," says Tim. So he became part of the company’s dragon boat team in the annual Corporate Games, took up drumming in a Lane4 band (hastily convened for a Christmas party but still going strong), acquired gardening skills and even attended corporate ballet lessons!
Learning about engagement
The organisation’s culture and ethos have made a lasting impact on Tim. "The company was heavily centred around understanding how different people engage with work and what motivates them. For me, there was huge learning about managing people’s expectations and your own expectations of them. It’s fundamentally altered the way I work. I now try to be more sensitive to different styles of working, and to accommodate them, so as to draw the best out of people.
"I’ve also realised how, as leaders, our own beliefs can limit other people’s potential. If I as a leader don’t believe someone is capable of doing something, the chances are, they won’t be able to do it. If I change my beliefs about what is or isn’t possible, people will rise to this as a challenge and often outperform all expectations. We have to learn when to offer support and when to offer challenges."
Tim extended his placement year, working throughout the summer on a Generation Y research project, which now forms the backbone of his final year dissertation. "The company was interested in how and why young people engage with work, particularly those coming into management roles. My research was about increasing awareness of this group, as companies were increasingly conscious of issues arising with older generation managers and younger generation workers. The research focused on how best to bridge that gap."
"I’ve always been a 'people person'. That’s perhaps partly why I chose this degree scheme. I was won over when I came to the Open Day and met the people running the course. Their energy and enthusiasm for what they did was infectious. I also liked the flexibility of the scheme. Taking entrepreneurship allowed me to focus on the things I was really interested in, particularly the people side.
"The placement year is about consolidating and growing your knowledge. But so much of what they teach us at university is about how to learn, so that was enormously beneficial. It meant I was able to find out very quickly what I needed to do."
The year at Lane4 has given him a powerful sense of where he’d like to be in future. "I love the fact that I’ve made a difference to the people in that organisation. I know I want to go back into learning and development. I’m more confident now about what I can offer – I just need to find the organisation that’s right for me."