Over the last year we've been focusing a lot on growing the company and growing as leaders. One of the things I've learnt in the process is that the founder's story matters. The story of our past informs our future. Where we come from, says a lot about who we are and where we're going. So here is my story. The story of the origin of IBTC.
For this story, I must go right back to the start.
Leaders make more leaders
My first real job was at a private distance learning college. I stayed there for 12 years and had no plans to leave. It was a great place to learn and grow. One of my managers changed the course of my life. He was generous with his time and knowledge and gave me an opportunity to learn about business, strategy, finance, product management and people management. From him I learnt the value of reading business books and studying other companies. Under him, three of the four senior managers who reported to him went on to start their own businesses. In retrospect, he was a 'king maker' of sorts. Today I know that great leaders make more leaders.
The truth is that I didn't set out to become the CEO of my own college - it wasn't even in my frame of reference. But someone came along who believed in me and wanted the best for me - and in the process enabled me to achieve what I didn't even have the courage to dream.
In 2008 my manager and I independently decided to leave the college after it changed hands. We felt the new owners didn't put the students first and blindly pursued money. We were more interested in adding value to people's lives and wanted to leave people richer because they bought from us, not poorer. Then an opportunity came along to buy a small tuition provider operating from Hout Bay and we felt it could be a place where we can live out our values. We raised some capital (which was an extremely stressful time) and bought this small college. There were only 2 permanent staff members (the owners) and a temp. We inherited the temp. Six months after we took ownership, Rob passed away. It was a huge shock to lose someone so unexpectedly and a daunting task that lay ahead of me. I felt I still had so much to learn, but also knew that I had learnt enough. So, I picked up the reigns, moved the company to Cape Town and started applying everything I knew.
Now it's 11 years later and we've grown tenfold. We have campuses in Cape Town Sandton and Pretoria and we've expanded our product range to include exclusive online classes. I really feel we've grown into a remarkable company with remarkable people and that the best is yet to come.
Pay it forward
The moral of the story is that someone believed in me and changed the course of my life. IBTC is my chance to pay it forward. It's a company where we pursue meaning over money - that means putting the student and their success first. It's a place where we recognise that people buy a promise from us and we must deliver on that promise. This holds true for members of our staff and our students. Everybody buys into the promise of IBTC - a promise of learning and growth, a promise of being taken care of and a promise of people believing in you and being generous with their time and knowledge.
IBTC aims to fulfil its promise to all stakeholders (staff first), of being a place where we build relationships, we grow, we deliver results and we give people remarkable moments.