John Williamson

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Other Industries
Job title: Managing Director
Subject of study: Leadership
Year of graduation: 2000
Type/Level of study: Post graduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Learnership Ltd

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Running my own small business – an amazing experience which has taken me to Norway, Russia (7 times), Brazil, USA, Canada, and Belgium. And our online reviews have reached out to Ukraine, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Ireland, Czech, Slovakia, Poland, Netherlands, Austria, the Far East, India, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and Africa too. As for sectors, we’ve operated with FMCG, Financial Services, Insurance, Food and Beverages, Haulage, Transport, Health, Software, Pensions, and many more.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I’d spent many years in corporate life and wanted to try something different. So in year 2000, as I finished my mid-life Masters Degree at Exeter (in Leadership), I decided to put much of what I’d learnt into something new that I owned. My wife encouraged and helped me, and the business, enormously, worked with me every day, and off we went to try it. The biggest kicks I get is when I see a client perform better because of what we’ve helped with. But what satisfies me most is when out of the blue I get a call from someone who’s had a recommendation that they should speak with Learnership. One day that call came from the 42nd floor of a New York global bank. A few months later ‘little Learnership’ had won their contact to deliver across the US across 11000 people – turned out to be the biggest we’d ever signed.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

The connection with such interesting people on the programme over 3 years. The biggest highlight for me was studying the life of Lawrence of Arabia and meeting one of the world’s top leadership experts who had also studied him – the great John Adair. I also gained a lot from learning about personality profiling tools such as MBTI and FIRO B.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The people on the programme – and the diverse topics within the programme. And Exeter is quite nice too!

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

It was the only place on the planet with a Masters in Leadership at the time.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Finance, Marketing, HR, organisation design, and business efficiency – productivity and operating excellence. I wished I had spoken a couple of languages but never got passed ‘O’ level French. Obviously learning lots about leadership and also ‘how to learn’, which has also drawn me to the topic of change leadership.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Make sure you understand the financial and business side of leadership – people who buy from you need to know you understand the bottom line hard stuff as well as all the softer stuff. And in a small business, expect very busy times and some quiet times too – when you need to make the most of quiet time to think and learn and plan.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve worked for over 50 years now but will mix work with more charitable and community support as time passes. I’ll also coach and maybe write a little – and certainly travel and give lots more time to my wonderful wife and family – and who knows, may finally nail a new language, German hopefully.


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