A trainer’s journal: My journey

Julian Roche takes stock of his journey into training.

Reading time: 4 minutes.

Writing about oneself doesn’t come easily to an Englishman of a certain generation. We were all brought up to say as little about ourselves to other people as possible. Still, we were equally brought up to believe that it is rude to refuse a polite invitation, so here goes.

Very few people – I would almost venture to say, none – ever intend to become a financial trainer. I am no exception. Although my family had a long history of real estate entrepreneurship, I was brought up to be a civil servant, by conscientious parents who were both public sector and devoted to their work.

Indeed, that’s where I started, as an economist and then a Fast Stream administrative Civil Servant at the Ministry of Defence in London working inter alia on what was in fact the UK’s first and very large PPP.

But the family blood must have been too strong, for by the time I found myself working for myself, at the age of thirty, had left the Civil Service to work first as a macro and real estate economist and then in the City, working on both commodity and real estate derivatives at what subsequently became Euronext-LIFFE.

I recall having no conception therefore of how important training was going to be in my own future

Most probably the fact that I was concurrently running my own property development business was a major contributory factor in my decision to work for myself. I immediately found self-employment immensely congenial.

Setting my own pace, structuring my day, taking up different opportunities and engaging in multiple pursuits enabled me to perform far better than the relatively rigid public and private sector environments that I had operated in previously.

I found that I certainly did not need others to structure my working life – I did that myself, probably reaching back to the same self-discipline I had exercised at undergraduate and postgraduate studies.  Moreover, I was prepared to trade immediate income for personal development, aided by a change in domestic scenery.

Nor was I now constrained by sector, so I put my new-found freedom to work in seeking consultancy and research opportunities in a wide range of different organisations, ranging from banks, chartered surveyors and venture capital companies to UNCTAD and beyond. Working internationally was an especial pleasure.

Eight years on I had experience that I could never have captured had I remained in employment.


I knew Gary Mond socially, and we happened to meet at a conference around that time. Gary had just set up Redcliffe, a training business, and looking at my CV and the flexibility that working for myself gave, he invited me to train, specifically on business valuations.

He was kind enough to ask me along to watch him train, and then to deliver the same course – with my own input, naturally – later on.

At the time, the prospect of training was raised I had just returned from an exciting conference in the Netherlands, I was writing a series of books on commodities and trade, and I had even just started teaching corporate finance at Southampton University.

I recall having no conception therefore of how important training was going to be in my own future: it seemed to me that it would be just one component, not necessarily an important one, in the suite of consultancy and research activities in which I was engaged.

Initially, my training was largely confined to the UK, although my range of subjects steadily broadened to encompass private equity and venture capital as well as the valuations material that was always so central to the role of investment professionals. 

I was able to develop new valuation materials, engage with the evolving world of management consultancy, the UK and worldwide PPP market, and financial management, and eventually develop relevant courses as well, based on practical experience in the marketplace rather than the complex, but often inapplicable, theories that I knew were so popular at university level.

In addition, thanks to my experience in Government, I wasa deployed to Scotland, Ireland and then eventually further afield, including not only Europe but within a year contracting me to deliver training in the Far East.

My courses were always one or two days, but I was able to expand my offering to longer courses and more disparate audiences. As my international travel increased, the fact that I was apparently comfortable with long-distance travel and short turnaround times was especially welcome. 

Within a remarkably short space of time, I had decided that the risk-return equation involved in financial training – for other training companies in the Gulf and the Far East – was more than adequate: I was hooked.


About the author

Julian Roche is course director at Redcliffe Training


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