Alumni profile: Education to entrepreneurship

What does a typical career path look like? A vertical progression through roles in an industry? Not always. We spoke to Lloyd Knowlton (BA (Hons) Primary Education 2010) about his transition from teaching to entrepreneurship.

Lloyd describes himself as Co-Founder and CEO “of the best creative digital marketing agency in the world (in my opinion),” Knowlton, which he set up in 2016. “I am extremely passionate about using creativity in every area of our business and injecting creativity into the marketing strategies of our clients to ensure they can stand out from the crowd, attract new customers and grow their business.”

With specialisms in online video marketing and production, social media marketing, creative digital marketing, and drone videography, you would be surprised to learn Lloyd actually started his career in teaching. He credits his ability to critically assess opportunities and situations for this career shift: “Developing my critical thinking skills at university provided massive value to my life even though I didn’t follow the traditional route into teaching that was laid out for me. After qualifying as a teacher I decided to try working in some different areas before I committed to working in Primary Education. One of the roles I had in that first year was an activity leader and tour guide for an English Language School. I’d deliver tours and activities for foreign students visiting the UK. I enjoyed this so much that I stuck with the company and after few promotions I reached their marketing department. From here I took the leap to start my own business!”

“Developing my critical thinking skills at university provided massive value to my life even though I didn’t follow the traditional route into teaching that was laid out for me.”

Taking the step to launch his own business, in a competitive market, meant an awareness of the challenges and the need to focus on professional development.

“Learning does not stop at school or at university. Learning has to continue daily throughout your career for you to reach your full potential. I remind myself that we don’t know what we don’t know. There are huge gaps in my knowledge and skills that need to be improved forever and I’m open to the fact that I (and my employees) need to focus on continuous improvement and learning.”

Not only does Lloyd focus on his own self development, but he is keen to bring others along with him on that journey. “I love employing people and supporting them to improve their skills within their chosen career. It is amazing to see people thriving in their career, hungry for new knowledge and experiences.” He is also keen to give back to students and provide them with opportunities to launch their career, employing several CCCU students: “Courses provided by CCCU covering film, equip students with skillsets relevant to the creative video production roles we are recruiting for”.

So how do you set up and manage your own business, while ensuring client satisfaction and employee growth? “Being fun and creative is the key. The biggest challenge for our business is always time. There are always hundreds of things we could spend our time on and managing how we use our time efficiently and effectively is a constant challenge. The best piece of advice I have ever been given was in one of my first lectures at CCCU. It was all about critical thinking and how we shouldn’t just listen to or read things and accept them as the truth. We should always think critically, and do our own research.”

And he extends this advice to prospective students, who are thinking about university. “Think critically about whether it is the right thing for you to do and don’t feel pressured to follow the path others want you to. Also have an open mind about the skills and knowledge you might acquire that you are not expecting.”

Reflecting on his successes so far he commented that: “A huge highlight for us was winning the BBC as a client. My current goal is to continue to grow a digital marketing agency that I can be proud of. Unethical marketing is a real turn off for me and I am proud that we are 100% transparent in everything we do at Knowlton. I strongly believe that creativity is the best way to attract attention.”