Alan G Ackers
I’m Alan, founding editor of NobodyToldUs.com. I’ve had a varied life, living in a handful of places around the UK and travelling the world as much as I can. My career, in software, has included startups, medium sized companies and eventually senior roles in global hi tech giants. Each has brought its own particular set of challenges and opportunities, and taught me something valuable. I have always tried to push myself.
The software has ranged from music creating to paperless office to state of the art security products. My roles have included developer, technical writer, pre-sales engineer, customer experience specialist, and a little bit of everything you can think of in the case of the startups (anyone with startup experience will get that one!).
With NobodyToldUs.com I’m embarking on a completely new venture. My aim is to share as life hacks some of the lessons from my life and career – and those of my fellow contributors – with younger adults starting out or developing their lives and careers. I hope you find something here that’s helpful to you!
Like Alan, I’ve had a few different jobs over the years and travelled to six continents for work and pleasure. I feel like I’ve lived several lives already and hope for many more to come.
Originally a research scientist seeking new treatments for obesity and diabetes, I switched to a career in medical communications just as the Internet started to become an important business tool in the mid 1990s. As a medical copywriter I produced literature destined for the doctor’s desk and later wrote features for medical websites focused on cancer, gynaecology and psychiatry.
Most recently I led the digital communications team at a multinational pharmaceutical company where I was responsible for the corporate website and developing the company’s social media presence.
Today, I’m an freelance digital consultant with a passion for helping individuals and businesses to get the best from the digital world by sharing my experience and love of the power of words. I hope you enjoy my musings on various topics.
Thirty years of overwork, plus a dollop of the good fortune enjoyed by many of my generation, put me in a position where I could exit paid work early. That means I can devote more time to my family and friends – and to myself. But I’m also looking for ways to put something back; NobodyToldUs.com is a great way to do that.
After training as an accountant I went on to work in some of the major departments of the UK government. Although concentrating on finance, I branched out into corporate functions familiar to any business: governance & accountability, planning etc.
Along the way I got to manage the UK’s national contingency fund, and to improve the way that a lot of things were done. And throughout my career I’ve enjoyed managing small teams and nurturing talent, helping finance undergraduates get started in their careers, and giving top decision-makers the advice they need to do their jobs.
I didn’t do that well at school, but I was always convinced that I had more potential than my A level results demonstrated, so I’ve spent much of my career proving it. I was one of the first women to pass through the RAF Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre at Biggin Hill after women were permitted to fly – I became an officer, but sadly not aircrew. And I achieved two Masters degrees in business and HR management.
After 7 years in the RAF, and subsequently working in leadership positions in more than 15 organisations, I specialised in HR management in small and medium sized companies. I now run my own management consultancy helping companies strip out all of the stuff that gets in people’s way, and replacing it with something that supports people’s performance instead.
I’ve always challenged myself, and others, to move outside the comfort zone. I’m more likely to say “Go for it!” than “Do you really think you should?”. I’m on a bit of a mission to put a stop to the waste of (human) potential I see happening all over the place, so writing for NobodyToldUs.com is a great way I can help do that. If anything I share helps you to move outside your own comfort zone, then we’ll both have taken another small step towards changing the world. Let’s do it!
What I lack in accomplishment is made up for by my enthusiasm. I tend to tackle things with the kind of energy you’d see from hyperactive toddler. It doesn’t always work out, but I firmly believe in embracing failures just as much as successes; every failure is an opportunity to grow.
Since graduating, I’ve worked almost exclusively in the computer security software industry. I’ve propelled myself through a variety of challenging roles, and have proven to myself that I can be highly adaptive, self-organised, and self-actualising. I tend to thrive on a mammoth challenge, and thus always have my eyes and ears open looking for new things to try and improve upon.
Work aside, as a new father I practice nappy-changes on a daily basis. At my current pace, by the time my baby girl is out of nappies, I’ll have spent a full ~45 hours *unfolding nappies*. Strewth!
When I catch a spot of “me” time, I’m either building Lego, zooming round Brands Hatch on a motorbike, doing a Crossfit WOD, or snapping some photographs.
I’m honoured to be a small contributor to the big mission of NobodyToldUs.com. One day I’ll have my kids reading these articles, because they’re so much more in tune with what we need to get through life than the curriculum being taught in school.
I’m Rob and from as early as I can remember I’ve being doing ‘geek’ stuff – I’m sure I learned to type before I could walk. Luckily ‘geek’ has finally become ‘cool’ – yay! At high-school a friend and I started a worldwide computer magazine (MSX Gazette), the same friend introduced me to a Cross Stitch company and before I knew it they convinced me to automate the creation of their design patterns – suddenly I was a professional developer, or at least a paid one.
I worked at a large multinational defence company for 20 years. In the latter years I set up a 100 computer gaming centre in Eastbourne called NetPlay, like you do. Then I decided to challenge myself and work for a faster-paced commercial company; that’s when I met Alan. Years later I went to work for another company on a stock trading system. In the evenings I developed my own social media marketing tool.
Fast forward to now. I spend most of my days on the very successful Vehicle Smart app. I tend to avoid accepting client work now, but I do have a select few clients that I help out occasionally. I’ve hosted my own podcasts, I love writing technical how-to’s and I’m considering creating training videos.
I really like to help others and I particularly enjoy trying new things; I rarely say ‘no’. That’s also part of the reason why I’ve helped Alan by contributing to NobodyToldUs.com. It’s a wonder I still find time for my wife and three kids!