After leaving school with one O-level in French, Frank worked for a number of years until deciding to hit the books for a second time. In 1982, Frank was given the chance by his then employer ‘Abbey National’ to study towards a Diploma in Management Studies. Having achieved his Diploma in 1985, Frank then went onto undertake a five year part time masters research degree at what was then Oxford Polytechnic:
“The research was entitled ‘the effectiveness of sales training’ and the reason for doing this was that by 1985 I was obsessed by finding out why some salespeople succeeded and many more failed. The average tenure of salespeople in a variety of industries was around 3 years. In financial services outside of the banking industry it was around six months. Having spent thirty years in sales roles (even the training and HR roles were in sales divisions). I began to question the training and development processes for front line salespeople”.
Frank was awarded an MPhil in 1990.
After graduating from Brookes what were the next steps for your career and where are you working now?
“I began a PhD twice but work commitments and eventually setting up my own business meant I never had the time to complete it”. Instead of completing his PhD, Frank’s career took a different turn and by 1997 he had launched his own sales consultancy company.
The birth of the company came as a result of Frank’s master’s research. The research brought him “to the conclusion that ‘sales’ would never be recognised as a profession until such time as there were higher level qualifications in it”.
“Whilst at Abbey National I was on a number of external committees and boards whose aim it was to create recognised and accredited qualifications in sales, they never got beyond NVQ/SVQ level. At that level the uptake was negligible. The task became clear: to find a way to influence and if necessary create a pathway for salespeople (many having left school with poor academic achievement) enabling them to become qualified at a higher level and to make it possible for selling to viewed as a profession.
It was a long haul but that opportunity presented itself in 2007. Having taken over ownership of a sales consultancy in Ireland, in 1999 the long-term strategy was to stop delivering short sales training programmes and focus solely on programmes that resulted in an accredited and recognised qualification. Eventually I was able to get three sales qualifications onto the Irish National Qualifications Framework at a higher level using a blended delivery methodology; each programme taking approximately one year to complete”.
In 2009 Frank set up the business ‘Business & Training Solutions International Ltd‘ with the purpose of firstly protecting the copyright of the programmes and secondly launching them internationally.
Frank continues, "in 2012 the company refocused its operations by adopting an international channel partner model via business colleges and universities. That same year we signed up a channel partner to cover Ireland (Dublin City University Ryan Academy in Dublin) and one in the Middle East (Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi)". The company is currently talking to a number of Universities in the UK and Ukraine, with a view to setting up channel partners there.
What achievements are you most proud of since graduating?
- Rising to a senior management level in my then company
- Influential in designing and launching NVQs in sales & sales management in the 80s/90s
- Setting up my own education business in 1997
- Writing five business books
- Getting sales qualifications recognised at a higher level in Ireland in 2007
- Getting sales and sales coaching qualifications recognised at Levels 6 & 7 in the UK in 2013
- Having these qualifications distributed in Ireland and the Middle East via universities acting as Channel Partners
How has the course you studied at Oxford Brookes helped you in your career?
Frank described his time at Oxford Polytechnic as a “significant benefit” to his “business past and current”. It allowed him "to achieve academic recognition in a discipline not usually associated with academic achievement – sales. Through the inspiration of two people at Oxford Brookes (Dr Roger Bennett and Dr Trevor Watkins) I learned how to question the status quo and how to apply academic rigour to a subject matter riddled with anecdotal myths, legends and false trails. Because of Roger Bennett I was invited by McGraw-Hill to write two books in their training series. In 1998 Gower published the second edition of Sales Training. In 2001 Oak Tree Press in Dublin asked me to write a book on sales coaching. The second edition was published in 2012 along with a book on selling. None of this would have happened without the stimulus that Oxford Brookes gave me. I am a great believer in higher education and the strapline for my company is ‘Great salespeople are not born; they are educated’.
In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?
“It’s important to remain part of something that was so influential in my life”
Frank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org