I want to start with this phrase, "The things that happen to us and around us do not have the power to define who we are." And why do I put that? I put that because throughout the year and throughout life in general, things get thrown at us, and I'm not going to into what they are specifically, but you can allow them to derail you, you can allow them to push you off track, and they become excuses.
And that's all they are, they're excuses, because I can guarantee that everybody in this room has got their own stories that they can tell of challenges and problems, but they're excuses. So we define our destiny, and that's what this year has been about for me.
A bit of background. I think you've worked out I'm a pretty determined character. I've got quite a lot of passion. I like to plan and structure things. And I love to help and support other people.
This is a bit about me. You know that is what I am now, but it's not what I was like when I was a kid. I wasted all my education. I left school with no qualifications, a couple of GCSEs, nothing else. Couldn't get a job, and I made cardboard boxes for a living, and I did that in a railway arch in Birmingham. And why do I mention that? I mention that because at points in our life, people are put in front of us who have the power to change our lives, and it was in this job that I met somebody that was like that.
This guy took me on. Nobody else would give me a job, and he gave me all the encouragement, all the knowledge, and all the support that I needed to become the best person I could. And within 15 months, I ran his shop floor for him, and so that's a guy who completely changed my life.
I left there at 18. I went to college to study IT. I didn't got a computer. I didn't even know what a computer was, but I thought I'd go into IT because it seemed to be the thing that people were doing. So I did that, with no knowledge of computers, and I achieved the highest score in the country that year and went on to work for some really big multinational IT companies. And I've held some great positions. I've been very, very grateful to them for that.
These are just some of the companies I've worked for, and I've been in sales for a lot of that time. And in at least the last 11 years, I've smashed my sales targets for them. So as well as them giving me a good lifestyle and good jobs, I think I've given a lot back to them as organizations.