Boys enjoyed an opportunity to hear about careers in less traditional sectors when two Old Elizabethans visited the School.
Max Hassell and Aaron Levitt (both 2002–2009) are a football agent and music entrepreneur respectively. Both spoke of the challenges and rewards of choosing the road less travelled.
Max was a keen sportsman at QE, representing the School in the First XV at rugby, as well as playing for the county at U16 and U18 levels. After reading History at Bristol, he turned his back on an opportunity at Big Four accountancy firm Deloitte – where he had completed a successful gap year – in order to pursue his dream.
“My parents were in favour of my pursuing a career in The City,” said Max. “But you have to do what you love. Football and sport are my passion; I get up every day and feel excited about what the day will bring.”
Max completed a three-month unpaid internship as a football consultant, before being offered a full-time role as an FA Registered Intermediary with Sidekick Management Ltd. “It was very hard to break into,” said Max. “I had no contacts and little industry experience. In the beginning, I was constantly being asked which footballers I already had on the books, which was tough when I didn’t know any personally.” But he successfully signed two players to the agency within his first three months and, in doing so, forged sustainable relationships with a number of academy directors, coaches and a chief executive.
At Sidekick he finds the company “perfectly positioned” to provide excellent advice on career management. “We have been involved in many multi-million-pound transfer deals and contract negotiations with the biggest clubs in world football and international players of high repute.”
He stressed that it isn’t all glamour. “You get the days when you travel to Accrington Stanley to try to talk to a player who doesn’t want to talk to you!” He also pointed out that the very high amounts of money flooding into the top tier of football becomes a trickle down in the lower divisions.
Aaron Levitt has pursued a career in the creative industries, setting up Stamp the Wax (an online music platform) as well as having worked in radio. Increasingly, he is bringing together brands to work with the music scene.
“I am an experienced music curator and influencer across all levels of the industry, including radio, festivals, labels and online publishing. As co-founder of www.stampthewax.com, I have grown the online music platform to become one of the key UK influencers in underground music. As an original member of [disc jockey and record label owner] Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM, I played a key role in the development of an award-winning online radio station.”
Aaron also spoke of the importance of bringing value to organisations, in his case through effective marketing and communications strategies. “My productive relationships with brands, PR companies, booking agents, labels, DJs and musicians have been significant in this.”
Both Aaron and Max agreed that hard work is key, whether at School or at work. “Trust QE’s processes,” Aaron told the boys. “The School will really set you up well for university and life beyond.”
Max said: “Don’t be afraid to go your own way. Pursue what you love, what you are interested in. Friends in more ‘traditional’ roles in the City might earn considerably more at this point in their careers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy in what they are doing.”
“‘You don’t have to have everything planned out,” advised Aaron. “I don’t necessarily know what the next six months hold. What is important is that I am able to adapt to changes in the industry. In music, a growth area is the way in which music is coming together with brands to deliver very creative and curated campaigns, and this is something I am getting more and more into from a freelance perspective.”
The talk was open to boys from all age groups and was organised by Mike Feven, Head of Year 12. “This was a good opportunity for boys to hear about some less conventional career paths, in areas in which many young people hold strong interest,” he said. “We appreciate Max and Aaron giving up their time to talk to the boys. They posed the interesting conundrum as to whether you should try to make your passion your work or pursue a different career and keep your passion as a hobby. That can be difficult to weigh up, but clearly Max and Aaron are both making it work for them.”
They added to the considerable number of Old Elizabethans who have been back to the school to give talks this year. They said they enjoyed catching up with the Headmaster, Neil Enright, and long-standing teachers, including Assistant Head David Ryan and Head of Art Stephen Buckeridge.