In our regular series, influential people remember when their jobs felt less meaningful
Hi, Dean! Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Dean Sadler and I’m founder and CEO of Tribepad, a HR-tech platform working with some of the world’s biggest employers, helping them find and hire top talent.
What was your #MyFirstMcjob?
A dustman in Cheltenham, when the bins were still just plastic bin bags, before they were replaced by wheelie bins.
How did you get the job?
I saw an advert in the job centre and applied.
What did you have to do?
We invariably started the working day at 5am. We had a set daily route within the towns of Cheltenham and Gloucester. I was what they called a runner. I would run ahead of the wagon and drag the bin bags from the driveways of the houses to the kerbside. It was hot, sweaty and very dirty work.
How long did work there for?
For around a year after my A Levels. I was the fittest I’ve ever been!
What were the perks of the job?
As soon as you finished the route you could go home, unless one of the other wagons had broken down in which case you needed to go finish their route. Most days I would be done by 11am. I certainly didn’t need to go to the gym as it was like working out for 5–6 hours a day.
What’s the funniest thing that happened?
You soon work out the most efficient way to throw a black bin bag into a moving truck. This invariably involves throwing it in an arc, above your head and into the truck a couple of metres away. You quicky find out there is a difference in quality in bin bags. Some don’t handle the pressure as well as others. Countless times I had the contents of a bin bag all over me and had to continue working for hours afterwards. Think about what usually goes into a bin bag and I’ve probably had it all over me. The smell at the end of the shift isn’t great. Even after a decent shower, it was hard to feel clean again.
What skills did you learn that you still use now?
I learnt all about efficiency. If one small part of the process broke down, the whole process broke down which meant a longer day which just upset everyone. The foul language could be quite foul! I always strived to do my bit as efficiently as possible and not be the one who broke the process. It meant I didn’t get an earful but also it also meant I couldn’t really take a break else the rest of the team would have to catch up with the slack.
Are you still in contact with any of your old colleagues?
No. I went travelling and then to University in Sheffield, so I never saw them again after that.
Why is alumni important to you?
I run my business on the principles of “People first. Product second. Profit third.” The most important thing is ensuring everybody is looked after, be they employees, customers, suppliers or partners. If we do that right, they’re more likely to build a product people want to buy. If enough people buy the product, we make a profit. I know I’m doing the right thing when I meet up with an alumni from the company for a coffee and have a chat. Alumni are a litmus test for how we run the business.
Why is alumni important in general?
Alumni are your referrals for new recruits. If you treat people with respect and provide them with good quality jobs and flexibility, you’ve got some of the best spokespeople for your business when they might happen to leave. Ex-employees giving your business a reference is invaluable.
What would happen if you did a shift as a dustman today?
I expect I would be fired for being too unfit!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
I have a few! 1) You don’t need qualifications to succeed. Forget the degrees. Travel opens the mind and you’ll learn a lot from different people in different contexts. So get out there more. 2) Don’t be afraid of rejection. 3) Start paying it forward as soon as you can. You’ll build your reputation and people will want to help you sooner. 4) Everyone has a bad day. Try to be someone who can brighten up their day and people will want to be around you. 5) Teamwork makes everything easier. 6) You can learn anything from leading experts very cheapily, if not for free, from the Internet. And finally, 7) buy Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon at their IPO!