Old Aylesburian of the week – Andy Evans, C.O.O of South Asia for Morgan McKinley

andyevansO.A of the week this week is Andy Evans, who has spent most of his career working in the City of London for the recruitment firm Morgan McKinley after studying Chemistry at university.  He joined the company 15 years ago, specialising in financial services, and became the Managing Director of the UK in 2007. Andy (Hampden, 87-92) has now thoroughly departed from his Aylesbury roots, and is living in Singapore managing the company’s offices across South Asia.

Hi Andy. How has life treated you since AGS?

Overall it’s been very good, I would say. I think AGS gave me a very decent grounding for life in general, and I’ve gone on to have a pretty decent career. It took some struggling through the financial crisis years, which was really tough for my industry. But overall it’s gone pretty well, being able to live in Singapore, and to expand my life and learning here is great.

How would you say the school has influenced your career since?

A lot of the stuff that I did at AGS has benefited me in a number of ways since, without question. On the sport front I played a lot of hockey at the school, and the hockey scene then was a big part of my life. It led on to meeting a lot of people, and being able to do a lot of things as a result of hockey, which has been fantastic for me.

K.D Smith, who was Headmaster at the time, was something of a traditionalist. I saw him from a distance many times but never actually spoke to him. For me, he was this figure of discipline, and more of a symbol than a person that I had anything to do with. So I always held him in this powerful position, and actually aspired to be like him.

I made friends for life, like many people who come through the school. I still do business with a lot of the people I was friends with then.

What kind of pupil were you at school?

I definitely had the odd detention here and there, but I think I was pretty well behaved for the most part.

I would describe myself as being involved in a lot of things, I wasn’t one of the pupils that would just let things happen. I was kind of involved in everything, particularly sport. I was a made a Senior Prefect, so I was one of the first to get my stripes, I must have showed some willing to get that!

Do you have a favourite teacher?

I think the one who stands out the most for me was Mr Williams, who was Head of Sixth Form in my time there, and his banter was very much on our level. I spent a lot of time with my House Master Mr Hunt, who was a gentle giant and really supportive. I do remember that he was such an incredibly heavy smoker that you could smell his room from the other side of the quad.

What were your goals at school?

I was always interested in science, but always felt that I’d end up in the commercial world. I thought that I was a pretty good sales-y kind of guy, and capable of learning something technical to be able to sell it. For example, one of my first jobs was selling the chemicals that are used to research Viagra, so I had to understand what was going on there to be able to sell them the drugs.

Did you foresee the success that you would have?

Unlike some kids, I don’t think I had any aspirations of the scale of what might be. I spent hours and hours in the careers library not knowing what to do until after I left the school. I’ve always worked well with people, but that was the only idea I had when I was there.

What’s been the highlight of your career?

In 2006 I became my company’s MD of the UK. I got it when I was 33, so quite young to be doing the job. I loved it and had a great time for a year, and then the credit crisis hit to put an end to the boom times.

Would you have any advice for the current group of boys?

The one thing that I think I benefited from was that whether or not you agree with the system, you have to try to work with the system. A lot of kids rebel at school but I don’t think that makes your life any easier. Me and my mates were very good at being involved, working hard and trying our best without being too awkward or difficult. That really follows through into your career; you can offer suggestions but try not to make yourself too difficult.