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Andy Coxall, Managing Director, EvolveCareers / 13 November 2023
I Struggled To Define My Purpose Until A Revelation Shifted My Perspective. Suddenly, It Became Clear
EvolveCareers Managing Director Andy Coxall describes the moment everything clicked into place.
There’s a three-word question asked by our peers, our employers, our colleagues, and by ourselves many times over which can feel so loaded that it makes you run a mile: “What’s your purpose?”
We all grapple with it at some point or another, yet despite our awareness of the complexities of such a question, there’s an expectation that this is something all of us will figure out – and often before we’ve even left University.
Well, I’ll put my hand up and say that this hasn’t been the case for me – and I know this is true for many others. I struggled with defining and articulating my purpose for many years and well into adulthood. The word itself feels so big and weighty and definite, and I’ve often shied away from it, or fudged it one way or another. But with time, and the many, many experiences that have come with it, I've managed to work out the smaller threads which have slowly but surely weaved together to create the big P. In a funny old way, the purpose of our newly launched venture, EvolveCareers, which is powered by Common Purpose and is focussed on bridging the gap between education and the world of work, has finally cemented it for me.
Why? Well, a little while ago my Mum said how funny it was that both my brother and I had followed in our dad’s footsteps to work in education. I laughed and said, “No we haven’t,” before stopping and realising we had in our own ways. My grandfather in Japan was also a teacher, so maybe the writing really was on the wall. Now having primary school age kids, I see clearly how important education has been to me and how universal the need for it is. But so often it's not afforded to every child. I was lucky to be born and schooled where I was, but luck shouldn’t have anything to do with it. Access to education and equity of opportunity are so core to me, and they always have been. I just didn’t have the words, nor the clear-cut path in front of me to articulate that.
Now, after working with thousands upon thousands of students over the past 12 years at Common Purpose, and now shifting into EvolveCareers as Managing Director, I’ve seen (in my eyes anyway) how much harder and more complicated the transition from said education into work has become. Having had the luck (again) to make this transition in the mid 2000’s before the GFC, I’ve since seen the huge pressures students are under to succeed, to get internships and work experience, to try and comprehend such rapidly changing jobs and pathways, and if the jobs don’t exist, to create their own.
It's here that I can see where I can step in and make a difference. And whether it’s helping one individual make it to the second round of a job interview, or seeing hundreds of graduates secure and thrive in new professional roles, this is what truly gives me a sense of fulfilment. It’s this that gives me a sense of purpose.
Of course, there were many other threads of life and experiences that ultimately led me to EvolveCareers. But no matter which way I look at it, the path forward is clear as we get to work on our goal to support one million young people to navigate the transition from education to work. This is big and weighty purpose, and it's one I can articulate and shout from the rooftops.