Alumnus of the Month: September 2022
Lewis Ducket is our Verulam School Alumnus of the Month. Ducket left Verulam School in 1997 and is now a CEO of a professional services company in Lincolnshire.
Please tell us a little about yourself – where do you work and how did you get into this role?
I originally lived and grew up in Welwyn, with secondary school taking me to St Albans, however, I have since moved from Hertfordshire, and now home is with my family in Cambridgeshire.
I am the CEO of a company called Public Sector Partnership Services Ltd, which provides a range of back-office professional services including ICT, HR, Payroll, Finance, Council Tax, Benefits, H&S and Customer Services to Councils across Lincolnshire. I joined the company in 2016, having made the decision to change my career path in 2015.
At 18 ½ years old, I followed my childhood aspiration and became a Police Officer in Hertfordshire and was originally posted to St Albans. After 14 years within the Police and having undertaken a number of strategic and corporate roles within the Police, I had developed a considerable number of transferable skills, which enabled me to make a move and change career path. I have been very fortunate with opportunities which have come up, however I have also worked very hard to make the change a success.
What are some of your proudest achievements since leaving Verulam School?
- Joining the Police was a childhood dream and so that has to be one of my proudest achievements. I policed St Albans and Harpenden during my first 10 years and also qualified in some specialist roles, such as becoming a Family Liaison Officer and Hostage Negotiator, which are difficult and challenging roles, but which provide huge personal reward and satisfaction.
- Being appointed as the CEO in my current organisation was a significant achievement, for which I am both proud and also honoured to lead the people, services and teams.
- Collectively – my family achievements. Getting married, having two children, renovating our family home whilst also studying towards my MBA!
What advice would you give someone looking to follow a similar career path?
Do a job you enjoy, and you won’t go too far wrong.
I took the decision to change careers in my mid-thirties. This can seem daunting or too much of a risk when you reach a certain point in your career and personal life. My advice would be to think about your transferable skills and what else you want to achieve. Then, plan carefully and jump! Don’t look back, life’s too short.
Policing is more a vocation than a job and there are lots of varied opportunities, training, promotion and it is a very close-knit environment. The downsides are, that many roles involve working unsociable hours, weekends, Christmas time etc. Once you have children, this can be difficult. You also don’t have total control over your job or where you work, as you can be moved around. The other downside is that you get to see and deal with a lot of societies not so pleasant incidents and people. Policing doesn’t have a great reputation at the moment, however like any organisation, a minority of bad people bring down the rest who do a great job. Overall, I enjoyed my 14 years and like to think I made a small difference.
I still work in a public sector environment, which enables me to see what my organisation delivers to help and support local people, which I find very rewarding. Leading an organisation, I also find immensely rewarding, as is the variety of different challenges I am faced with on a daily basis. Developing a great team around you is very important and recognising the benefit of having an external network to offer different perspectives, constructive challenge and support also helps you progress.
How have your experiences at Verulam School contributed to your life and successes since leaving school?
I could not initially comprehend that it has been 25 years since I left Verulam! Looking back, Verulam helped prepare me for the next step in life, which for me, was into the world of work at 16 years old.
Verulam and my teachers offered a lot of additional support, extra-curricular activities, discussions, challenge and debate, which supported me with my own personal development to feel confident to leave school and take the next step. Verulam stretched you, which helps prepare you with the confidence and determination to work hard and be successful – even when things are hard.
I also recall standards being really high coupled with high expectations of students by teachers – whether that be standards of behaviour, appearance, demonstrating positive values, treating one another with respect, valuing difference, team sports, non-academic opportunities – these are all fundamental important to life and success beyond the classroom.
What House were you in at Verulam School and can you describe one of your fondest memories?
Jennings – purple stripe tie.
Looking back, I have very fond memories of my time at Verulam and couldn’t pick just out one. I enjoyed taking part in the French-exchange trip each year and have kept in contact with my exchange student and her family ever since.
Even though I didn’t live in St Albans, I had a good group of friends both in my form and across the year, a few of whom I am still in contact with.
I can recall both Mr Hawkes and Mr Wadsworth fondly, who as Head and Deputy expected very high standards, but who were very approachable, supportive and would take the time for you – great role models, particularly as leaders. Equally, neither would tolerate any nonsense. Although I would not have realised it at the time, like any successful organisation, it is the people within it that enable great things to happen. Having positive role models to aspire to and learn from is also really important and teachers have a big part to play in that in a school environment.
I was very fortunate to have had some great teachers and form teachers at Verulam – whose patience I suspect I occasionally (or regularly) tested! If any of them are reading this … thank you for your support and sorry!
Like everyone, I remain hopeful that 2022 is the start of returning to normality after the pandemic.
My first priority has been to support my son through his GCSE exams and help him prepare for his next step into sixth form.
Subject to the airport chaos, we are hoping (third time lucky) to get our 2019 holiday completed and I’m hoping to have a belated 40th birthday celebration beyond a lockdown.
We love hearing what our alumni have been doing since leaving Verulam School. Each month, we are inviting a member of our alumni community to share their story of life after Verulam. If you’re and alumnus who would like to take part, or you’d like to volunteer an alumnus that you know, then please drop us an email.