In our regular #MyFirstMcJob, people with very important jobs remember where it all started
Hi, Julian! Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Julian Smith. I'm the CEO of Charge-m8. We're an electric vehicle charger manufacturer, installer and ChargePoint operator.
What was your #MyFirstMcJob?
A Saturday job at a local provision store in south Manchester that was renowned for provisions like meats, jams, preserves, and fruits.
How did you get the job?
My father was buying bits from there. At one point he had a carpet shop about four doors down and they had a turnover of Saturday job boys, who did fairly basic tasks like cleaning, shelf stacking and serving customers.
How long long did you work there for?
About four years, from 13 to 16 or 17.
What were the perks of the job?
It was quite a relaxed environment, run by an old gentleman called Arthur with his son Howard. Howard was quite funny. I guess he'd been in his 30s, but his father was a bit stern. I was a typical teenager, so I wanted to do as little as possible for a day's work.
What’s the most memorable thing that happened?
One of the tasks was to clean the walk-in fridge. I say walk in – it wasn’t really, but they made me go in anyway to wash it all down. Obviously Howard thought it was hilarious to lock me in from time to time!
What skills did you learn at the shop that you might still use today?
I guess customer service. They were very old school, knew all of their customers’ on first name terms and very courteous, which reinforced the fact that civility costs nothing.
Are you still in contact with anyone you used to work with?
Why is alumni important to you?
I actually got to the the North West finals of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year a few years ago, which was held in Manchester, which was pretty exciting, but we didn’t win, because to be honest about it, I don’t think our business was mature enough. We should have probably gone into it a year or two later. We’re still on the journey to really demonstrate our business model. Alumni is definitely something I am interested in. I do the usual LinkedIn with a little crossover into Facebook, but it would be helpful to be able to discus business outside of my own circle of business friends.
What would happen if you went back into the shift in the shop today?
Well, the shop doesn't exist. I don’t thing that kind of shop really exists any more. It was like Open All Hours, without the hardware. If I could go back, I think I'd probably enjoy it. 13 to 16, 17 was just completely carefree, with no responsibilities, no mortgage and no children. Being paid weekly, cash in your hand, you could go out and spend it, then just wait until the following weekend to get some more.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would grab every opportunity with both hands. Probably from that time I could have probably done a bit more. I certainly would tell my younger self to start in business a little bit quicker.