Dick Stroud

Many ‘careers’ lots of fun

Like most of my friends I failed the 11-plus and went to the local secondary modern (more of that later). After three years of improving my football skills I realised that the prospect of ‘getting a job’ was looming on the horizon and something had to be done.

Time to get some exams and to jump onto the education escalator of ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels and then to university. Three years studying applied physics at Sussex University taught me a great deal that I soon forgot.

I had put it off long enough – the time had come to get a job and to earn some money.

Education, education, education (1960 – 1971)

‘Going into computers’ seemed like the way forward. After a couple of years with Olivetti I got the dream job and started working for ‘Big Blue’ (IBM). One company ruled the computer industry, and I was part of it.

I learnt a lot from my time at IBM but if I was going to make it to the top I needed one more qualification – an MBA. The year was 1978, I had my business school degree from Cranfield and it was time to get some consultancy experience.

I found the perfect job. PA Consultants worked for the world’s top IT companies – including IBM – and was now advising them as a senior consultant.

For four years I worked at the heart of the computer business. Lots of international travel doing fascinating work and having lots of fun.

Then came the call from the headhunter and the opportunity to enter the corporate world. Two things made being marketing director of Datapoint a ‘challenging’ time. Many of its products were great ideas but never worked and the price of those that did soared as sterling plummeted against the dollar.

Three years later the inevitable happened and staff numbers were culled, including my job. The time had come to go it alone and make my millions.

Corporate world – here I come (1971 – 1985)

The world’s my oyster. I had all the academic baubles, lots of consultancy experience and time as marketing director of a high-tech company.

I soon discovered the concept of ‘sweat equity’, of exchanging me-time for shares in start-up companies, plus finding plenty of clients that needed my strategy and marketing advice. My apartment in Westminster made a perfect office and place to live. Life was great.

The years slipped by and then I discovered the internet. All the talk was about its technical wonders, but little was said about its impact on business. That sparked the idea for writing a book, to establish my credentials and to become an internet expert.

Time to go it alone (1985 – 1998)

I persuaded a publisher (Macmillan) that it was good idea and ‘Internet Strategies’ was published in 1998.

So started a period of being a visiting lecturer at London Business School and teaching courses for the Institute of Marketing. My consultancy assignments were now all about advising companies how best to use the technology

It was a busy and profitable time but, alas, the ‘digital economy’ was a young person’s business, and I was getting older. It was time to move on.

I knew a lot about the internet and marketing and my body was increasingly appreciating the effects of ageing. And so came the idea for the next venture.

Along came the Internet (1998 – 2005)

I found a publisher that was interested in the idea of a book about marketing to older consumers – but they wanted it written in conjunction with a corporate partner. Luck was with me and OMD, the global advertising agency, backed the idea. In January 2007 ‘The 50-plus market’ was published.

My new company (20plus30) was successful at attracting corporate clients and a new phase began. Lots of travel and conference speaking ensued, as did large consultancy contracts.

I had become something of a ‘guru’.

Work began on another book, this one written in conjunction with Kim Walker, who knew all about advertising and business in Asia. ‘Marketing to the ageing consumer’ was published in 2013 and from this the business developed into developing software tools and smartphone apps.

I was now closer to 70 than 60 and decided to conclude my time in the ‘ageing business’ with one more book. ‘This I know’ was published in 2017.

The time had come to decide how I wanted to use my post-work years. It was an easy decision – write another book and do lots of travelling.

Then I discovered ageing (2005 – 2017)

For years, decades even, I have been thinking about three or four ‘projects’ that I intended to undertake when the time allowed. The first on the list was to write a book about the type of school I attended.

For at least a decade I knew the book’s title: ‘The Secondary Mod – much maligned or monstrous mistake?’ Naively, I thought it would be about the same length as my other books. Three years after starting and three times longer than expected, it was completed in 2021 and is available on Amazon.

The book’s website contains details of its contents and a promotional video and podcast.

Time to start my next ‘bucket list’ project.

If you want a more conventional account of my career then go to Linkedin.

‘Bucket list’ time (2017 onwards)