Harnessing past experiences for a brighter future

Think Pieces

By Nathan Plester · February 28, 2024

I’m Nathan Plester and I joined Intuitive Thinking Skills in 2020 on a 3-month contract, I’m still here and still enjoying my work. I have worked a number of different jobs, but I built a career in Hospitality management that spanned about 15 years. I was a general manager for one of the largest employers in the UK for a number of years but no matter how well I did, I never enjoyed my job much and it took a toll on my family life too. I moved my wife and kids from county to county trying to make a name for myself within the company, taking on more challenging sites, desperately trying to prove my worth to the world until the stresses of the career were too much for my family and I realised it was time to stop.

I was trying to prove to myself that I could make something out of my life despite my past. I grew up in Solihull (the posh Birmingham as my wife calls it) and I was a heroin addict by 15 years old, in prison at 17, homeless at 20 then back to prison for a few more years. I decided I needed to change in 2004. I moved to a town called Newquay in Cornwall with no qualifications, still on a Subutex script, and found a job in a bar. Turns out my resourcefulness, determination and people skills – all fine-tuned through years of addiction and prison – are really useful in that sort of industry and my career took off from there. I reduced my script myself and never thought about heroin again.  

I felt like I was living a double life for the next 10 years or so, never able to talk about my life and misusing a lot of alcohol and cocaine, despite my better judgement. That little voice in my head kept telling me it wasn’t heroin though so it was OK, and I made up excuse after excuse again, refusing to accept I was just doing the same thing all over again. Eventually I stopped drinking and focused on my career. Life and work were much easier without substances, but that clarity also helped me realise I actually hated my job. If only there was some type of work I could do where I didn’t have to hide my past experiences or even better, I could use them to my advantage. Wouldn’t that be perfect?!  

As luck would have it, I knew someone working for this company called Intuitive Thinking Skills and they were hiring. A 10-minute phone interview with Peter changed my life. I came away from the call feeling like this was the job I wanted, and this was the company I wanted to work for. I was able to be open and honest in my professional life for the first time and it felt great. I was able to use my professional skills alongside my life skills to mentor people back into work during a difficult time – COVID – and I knew the work I was doing was making a difference to people. I learned about the Intuitive Recovery course and told Phil Reynolds (Regional Manager) I would love to be involved in teaching this if an opportunity arose, I was confident that my history would prove to be a real strength here too. My contract was coming to an end and Phil gave me my next opportunity. Some amazing tutoring from Matt Sutherland and Mark Spooner set me up for a great couple of years delivering this in Matt Wilson’s team in the Northwest.  

That brings me to the present. I did love one thing about my last career: the teams. I loved teaching them new skills, I loved helping them see things from a different perspective and I loved giving them tools so they could grow and perform in their roles. When I heard about the Learning and Development role, I knew I could combine everything I loved about my ITS job and my previous career. I have been in post 2 months now and the role is still developing every day. I have new working relationships with the central office team, I get to pass on all the ITS core skills and work with wider teams across the country developing new training material as the business grows in new areas. I’m very happy to be a part of all of this and I can’t wait to see how this position grows too. Most important of all, I have job satisfaction and I no longer feel the need to hide or make up for my past life choices. I have Intuitive Thinking Skills to thank.