My story so far? 
If we are fortunate enough, life is full of significant milestones for most people; 2023 is a year that contains one for me, I turn 50! 
I know many people will say that 50 is the new 40 blah blah, but for me 50 feels very significant and as a result has made me feel quite reflective
After a tough time at school due to bullying and leaving aged 16 with poor results, my options were very limited; this was compounded by the fact I grew up in a small market town in the hills of South Shropshire! After a short stint at 6th form college, I started working in a factory but 18 months later the decision was made to ‘get a trade’. Again with limited options, I secured a YTS apprenticeship placement with a local garage and began studying Level 3 Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair; this proved to be the first ‘game changer’ in my career! 
Manufacture Dealerships! 
Fast forward to 1998 and I was starting a new role in a Volkswagen Retailer in Shrewsbury, soon after joining I was promoted to Workshop Controller and later, onto Service Manager! While it all happened relatively quickly, I’m now comfortable to admit that my time as a Service Manager was not a career highlight! For several reasons, it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster: lack of training prior to promotion, lack of skills to manage people and lack of support from my senior manager meant that I was back on the workshop floor as a technician within a year. 
It's fair to say that this turned out to be the second ‘game changer’ in my career and it led to a significant period of personal reflection and self-development. During this time of personal growth, I was privileged to become one of the first Master Technicians for Volkswagen, which is still to this day one of my proudest achievements. 

Apprenticeship Programme! 

2003 brought a significant change for me as I left the Volkswagen network as a technician to become an Apprentice Trainer for Volkswagen. This was clearly a very different work environment that insisted I ‘stepped up my game’ on a professional level while developing my personal awareness onto the next level. Within 18 months, I accepted a promotion to become the Manager of the Volkswagen Apprenticeship Programme - the difference with this promotion was I had my experience of failure to draw upon and I was determined to make it work this time! 
It later turned out that one of the key factors in my new management role becoming a success was that I had a supportive and, more importantly, very patient manager  
who enabled me to grow and develop into the role, while not stifling my enthusiasm. Growing into this management role and being responsible for the development of over 800 apprentices are still key high points in my career; this role also taught me how to effectively manage and eventually lead people. This was also my first experience of what is commonly known as imposter syndrome! 


After a handful of years finding my feet in the world of consultancy, I was delighted to accept a promotion to Operations Manager. This turned out to be a fantastic time in my career - I was working with great people and progressively thinking clients, giving us the opportunity to really make a difference for people. 
The next significant career milestone was in 2016 when we secured the contract to deliver all the network training and development for Volkswagen Group - the very same place that I had been trained as a technician all those years earlier! I was given the unenviable task of running this new contract as Contract Manager, starting with the integration of c150 people into the business and then on to the running of this significant contract. This gave me the opportunity to apply most of the skills I had gathered over the previous 15 years, and I will always be  
humbled by what my team achieved against some very challenging odds at times. Walking into the training centre on a daily basis and seeing all the people attending their training was a constant reminder that I had once been sat right where they were, and yes, you may have guessed it, this is possibly to strongest example of me experiencing imposter syndrome! 
New beginning? 
For various reasons, by 2019 I was ready to leave corporate life behind and branch out on my own which is when I created Haynes Oliver Limited. While this wasn’t particularly difficult in itself, trying to manage a business that had only been trading for 6 months when a global pandemic hit certainly was difficult but that said, we are still here and proudly going from strength to strength. 
Writing this blog has given me the opportunity to reflect on my journey so far-some very happy times combined with some extremely difficult ones, but they have all contributed to who this 50 year old now is. Even though there are many things that I would probably do differently given the chance again, I’m pretty happy with where I am at this stage in my life. 

In summary 

Never forget, you can only ever be the best version of you today. Keep pushing, keep working hard, keep putting yourself out there and never give up, no matter how hard it may feel at times. 
Dave Bownes 
Haynes Oliver Limited 
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