This week, David Walker, Chairman and CEO of global provider Ardmore Language Schools Ltd in the UK reflects on the 30 years in the industry as the company celebrates its anniversary.

”Thirty years can feel like a lifetime! Since 1984 we've had five Prime Ministers, enough worldwide epidemics to last a century, a volcanic ash cloud, we've moved from typewriters to iPads, Royal Mail to e-mail and yet we're still here!

When I began Ardmore in 1984 working out of a rented portacabin in Uxbridge just round the corner from Brunel University (now one of our centres!), I could never have imagined where Ardmore would be 30 years on

From starting solo with the help of just one work placement student in a lowly portacabin, we have grown to offices in a grade-I listed building in Maidenhead and serviced offices in Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York, employing over 20 year-round staff, more than 350 seasonal staff and looking after more than 12,000 students each year. It has been quite a journey!

I am very proud of what Ardmore has achieved over the past 30 years. During this time I have met so many kind and interesting people – many of whom are long-standing clients who have become much-valued friends.

While flicking through the pages of our special 30th anniversary brochure of all our global programmes, I am reminded of the many challenges we have faced over the past 30 years and overcome: inflation at over 15 per cent, the introduction of airport passenger duty, mad cow disease, foot and mouth, SARS, 7/7 and 9/11, the Lockerbie disaster and not one but two Gulf Wars – to name but a few!

If I have learnt anything from all these years in business it has been that nothing is achievable without hard work – it is the single most important ingredient for success.

The other thing I have learnt is that all businesses and indeed their directors have a ‘shelf life’ meaning that to stay at the top you must be prepared to bring in new blood – new energies, innovate and create new programmes, new activities and new destinations. You simply cannot be afraid of change and must always be looking for what will be the courses and programmes of the future and who will be the future directors and leaders.

I once asked someone very successful in our industry how she had achieved so much success: the reply was simple – ‘I build very good teams!’

My goals for Ardmore are modest yet ambitious. I want Ardmore, like any of my children, to be the best they can possibly be. I want Ardmore to continue every year to strive to achieve the best standards of care and safety, to offer the best quality programmes it can and be the most creative and innovative in its field.

We were born in the nineteen-eighties along with the likes of Apple, Virgin Atlantic, Mango and Pret a Manger, so in very good company. By striving for the same passion, drive and commitment, we plan to be still around and strong in the twenty-eighties!“

David Walker 30 years ago when Ardmore was established

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