By Hannah Prevett, Monday 4th February, 2013
In a downturn, strong, fast-growth businesses are like gold dust: we need them if our economy is to grow and thrive. Birmingham’s BullionByPost is well and truly a child of the recession.
View the full article on line on the Elite Business Digital Magazine
All too often we hear about the losers of the recession; tales abound of businesses – large and small – going to the wall. Just last month, HMV and Blockbuster, two of the high street’s best-known brands, hit the runners.
And then, every once in a while, a business emerges triumphant, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of our once-thriving economy. BullionByPost is one such firm. The founder of the Birmingham-based business, Rob Halliday-Stein, struck gold when he realised that the banking industry had gone to the dogs and people were looking for other ways and means to invest their cash.
It’s safe to say Halliday-Stein has always been quite keen to challenge the status quo. As a child, he was bright and inquisitive. “When I was three years old, I had a jumper with a big ‘Y’ on it; that probably sums up what I was like as a kid,” he jokes.
But his questioning mind paid off. He was one of the smartest kids in the year group at his primary school in Spark Hill, Birmingham, and the only one to pass his 11-plus exam. This won him a place at grammar school King Edward VI Five Ways.
This transition was a real eye-opener for him, he recalls. “Because I’d been the only kid from my school to pass the exam, I thought that everyone there must be really clever,” he says. “But then I got there and it wasn’t much different [to primary school]. The main thing that struck me was that everyone was very middle class.”
A pretty astute observation for an 11-year-old, one might argue. Despite his clear academic prowess, Halliday-Stein admits he was ‘lazy’ and did the bare minimum to achieve the grades needed to progress to Sixth Form and then university. He even chose his university based on the worse-case outcome of his A-level exams.
“I went to Sheffield to do economics mostly because they accepted general studies, and, although I knew I’d get an A grade in economics, I wasn’t sure I was going to do so well in physics,” he explains. “My view was that as long as you got the grades to get into where you wanted, that’s all that mattered.”
This was a theme that continued throughout his university career. “I wasn’t very focused on my studies at all while I was uni,” he says. “I was focused on doing the minimum to get a 2.1 and then getting out of there.”
His lack of motivation wasn’t helped by the fact that he wasn’t impressed by the teaching methods. “I was disappointed with the course,” he explains. “There was no room for discussion or understanding. It was very much ‘learn this theory and reproduce it in exams’. This is what people would do, get their 2.1 and go and get a good job in a bank in London.”
Ever the outlier, Halliday-Stein decided to pursue a career at opticians Dolland & Aitchison in Birmingham. After working there for the summer before he graduated, the company spotted his potential and offered him a graduate role. Having been declined a job at Accenture, he accepted D&A’s offer and relocated back to Birmingham.
Read the full article on the Elite Business website