Simon Strong’s portfolio career #2

Simon Strong making coffee

This is the second in a series of 6 blog posts by Simon Strong about his portfolio career. Reading how people have created their own portfolio career can be useful to inspire you to create one yourself.

In case you missed it, here is part 1:

The rest of this blog is in Simon’s own words.

How have some of the projects in your portfolio career come about?

Engaging students in learning

A couple of years ago, an ex-colleague from advertising days contacted me. She’d started teaching German at Radley College (boys public school just outside Oxford) and was intrigued as to how we could do something creative with her students. So for the last couple of years we have run the Radley Business Challenge in which we give the students a real business issue (Stabilo pens in the inaugural year and the German National Tourist Board last year) so that the students have to learn about German culture in order to create a marketing campaign. Last year another 6 schools took part in the challenge and I got the former Head of Sales and Marketing for Diesel UK and former Brand Communications Director of Orange Mobile to run workshops. Last year, for the first time, all her ‘A’ Level German students got A*, and more students have signed up for German than ever before. This year we hope to get extend the project to even more schools.

Coffee shop

My wife commutes to London every day for her job (CSO at ad agency Ogilvy and Mather) and she wanted a decent coffee on the train. So, because I love her, I opened a coffee shop at our local train station. The Zoo Café at Milford Train Station opened just over 6 months ago, and it’s just doubled in size when I took on my first member of staff three weeks ago. We serve 100’s of cups of awesome every day with clients including Lord Seb Coe and my very happy wife. I plan to develop a deli for commuters to pick up their evening meal on the way home, and also offer a dry cleaning service so they can drop off on the way in and pick up and the way back out. I’ve also go permission to set up a semi-permanent photographic exhibition on the platform, and I also want to run a pop-up restaurant out of the café (I’m in contact with Kerstin Rodgers of the Underground Supper Club who I met at a KFC workshop a couple of years ago who I hope to entice to cook at the café).

River of lights

A couple of years ago I organised an event in Guildford I called River Of Lights. It was inspired by a memory I had as a child of watching an event on TV (probably John Craven’s Newsround!) where tens of thousands of candles were thrown off a bridge like a waterfall, and which then floated down a river. In 2010, and again in 2011, I invited the community around Guildford to celebrate the winter solstice by floating candles on the River Wey.

It got flooded off in both 2012 and 2013, and last year I took a break. Next year I am planning to do it in the village of Witley where I live.

Other projects

I chaired the PTA for our local infant school where my two boys went (Lucas is still there). Although I stepped down almost 2 years ago, I still run the annual fireworks event that I initiated, as well as dad’s poker night!

There are lots of other projects that are simmering in the background (a community energy project, Shakespeare in the park, something to do with pants, a Quidditch tournament, “hats for cars”, and I have a strange desire to direct ‘Waiting For Godot’…). And I’m sure other stuff will crop up…

Part 3 of Simon’s 6 part guest blog series coming soon.

View Simon Strong’s LinkedIn profile:

View the Human Zoo web site:

What could your portfolio career be made up of? Find out what your transferable skills are by downloading our free report:

About Energise - The Talent Liberation Company

Talent liberator - career change, executive coaching and employee engagement. PS Love writing too and write many articles. Background in marketing and brand strategy and communication and unusual analytical and lateral brain - great for new career directions and ideas!
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