Family and Biography
I grew up in North London spending my first two years living in a mansion house in Totteridge called The Priory where my parents were caretakers. Naturally I have scant memory of these times but after that we moved to Muswell Hill in North London which I do remember as we settled there for most of my childhood. My father was a New Zealand born artist who'd worked his way over to Europe on a ship and settled in London - my Mum was a receptionist at the British Library and they met through a mutual friend. After I arrived on the scene they tried for a while to get by on the unpredictable income from Dad's exhibitions but after my brother was born Dad took a job as a telephone operator working night shifts so he could paint during the day; a job that he hated but that he stuck at for 20 years! Though he might not have been able to make a living at painting as so few artists can, Dad (Leonard Bennetts) was however recognised as a talented and accomplished artist; he was a member of various societies including the Hesketh Hubbard Art Society who awarded him a first prize. The Hesketh Hubbard Art Society, founded in 1930 was originally a club within the Royal Society of British Arts. It is one of the 9 member societies that form the Federation of British Artists. Dad also exhibited at the Royal Academy on a number of occasions. I've recently made some videos of Dad's work which are linked here in bold type.
My father, Leonard Bennetts
An early picture of my Mum (foreground) and her friend by my Dad
My brother, Maurice and I went to St. James primary and infant school in North London until we were both eleven. Due to various family reasons we spent the next few years going from one secondary school to another; I think I must've attended seven secondary schools all in all, my brother about the same, and of course each school was invariably at a different point of the curriculum which was a bit tiresome! I'm not complaining, I've done pretty well and besides, as Albert Einstein said, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." :-) My brother Maurice has done well too and now runs a building company that renovates up market properties. In his spare time he's a motorsports fan and he's competed a couple of times himself in the RAC Rally; here's a link to his eWRC results page.
Anyway, at fifteen and at my seventh school in four years I finally gave up on trying to learn anything and decided to get a job. I was living in Belsize Park at the time and I got a job as a sales assistant in a chemist called Belsize Pharmacy on Haverstock Hill working for a Mr. Maurice Cohen who paid me ‘under the counter’ until I was at proper school leaving age. Belsize Pharmacy is now a branch of Boots (below on the right). I loved this job!
Belsize Pharmacy is now a branch of Boots (above)
Working at Belsize Pharmacy as a teenage girl was like being in a girly paradise but oddly it was there that I decided that my future lay in sales. My rationale for this was I would be offended if anyone came into the shop without buying anything and though some must have thought I was a pest, no-one complained and I would often add 30% to a days' takings by persuading ladies to let me loose on their faces with the testers, usually doing a good enough job so that they bought most of what I had used on them!
Having enthusiastically decided that my future must lie in sales I spent the next couple of years trying to find my feet taking various telesales jobs, usually on a commission only basis. I hadn’t yet learned how to differentiate between a quality sales role and a bad one so it was fortunate that I got a job in a sales recruitment agency in Finsbury Park (aptly named Park Recruitment) where I did learn that there were companies that would pay you a basic salary and train you; and that some of these companies were considered to be the perfect place to start a sales career. Hurrah for a bit of direction!
Of course some doors would be closed to me due to having no qualifications but I learned that Rank Xerox would take people into their training corps without qualifications as long as they had some sort of respectable sales experience behind them. Such then became my goal and for my 'respectable sales experience' I took a position at the Evening Standard selling advertising space where I did well, got promoted and watched the ads in the paper every day for the next Rank Xerox intake!
The Art Deco Daily Express building on Fleet Street which The Evening Standard shared (now occupied by Goldman Sachs).
After a year or so I had the requisite experience under my belt and had just passed my driving test (first time haha!) when the next ad for Rank Xerox appeared - and right there is where I began my sales career ‘proper’. Based out of the West London Branch, Northdale House on the North Circular Road (now a Travelodge, see below) I became a ‘Xeroid’ as those of us who worked for Rank Xerox called ourselves. And for the next three years or so I had a fabulous time selling photo-copiers, fax machines and word processors, gallivanting around London making and spending a lot of money and buying my first home. :-)
Rank Xerox occupied the ground floor and first floor of Northdale House (now a Travelodge)
After those early milestones things pretty much went according to plan, my sales career evolved and I like to think that I became pretty good at my work. For one reason or another the idea of leading a sales team didn’t appeal to me as I liked being on the front line too much (and still do).
After my good start at Rank Xerox I next got on to the computer networking wave at its outset and I’ve stayed there pretty much ever since!