Me & My Job: Tom Cole, curriculum area manager, Writtle College

Tom Cole, curriculum area manager, Writtle College. Image: Writtle
Tom Cole, curriculum area manager, Writtle College. Image: Writtle

How did you get started? I suppose I better thank my grandparents for getting me into horticulture because they had a market garden near Canterbury. Then, when I was about 16 or 17, I started working for local nurseries and garden centres, mainly growing trees, shrubs and perennials.

What does your typical day involve?
At the moment I am getting to grips with a new job. We have formulated a new team combining horticulture, agriculture and countryside called land and environment and I have responsibility for managing a team of around 18 staff on the further education side. I'm getting used to a new college environment. I started this post in October 2009 having been head of horticulture at Capel Manor since 1997.

What is the best part of your job? Working with a new team and working in a very challenging environment looking at trying to raise the profile of the college in the industry and working in agriculture, which is new to me.

And the worst? The unknown, I suppose. I'm au fait with horticulture and the countryside but not having that knowledge of agriculture is a real challenge. It's a good thing and a bad thing, really.

What piece of kit can you not do without? My secateurs. I always have to have those. Though actually my mobile phone and the wonderful world of email are essential too.

How do you relax? When I can get away, I sail — I do a lot of that. I'm having to go to the gym now too because I haven't been for a while. I like to socialise too but mainly its activities such as sailing and walking and that type of thing - and eating out.

What does the future hold? Hopefully, if all goes well this year and next year, then we will raise the profile of horticulture, agriculture and countryside. Hopefully we can get good grades, improve the recognition of the college in the industry and try to have a long and exciting career at Writtle.

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