DAY SIX – What I learned from my time in prison

(reading time 3 minutes)

Before the journey of starting a business, I spent a few years inside.

Fortunately, my presence there was not ordered by a court of law, I was there in a work capacity; I’m partial to keeping myself on the right side of the law like most of us, as you can imagine. Plus, the time I got a speeding ticket, I sat in the back of the police car crying my eyes out, y’know that feel sorry for yourself, can’t breathe kinda cry. Well, after watching me sob the whole way back to my car, the very kind police officer followed me and asked for the ticket back citing, he “became a police office to catch criminals, not make good people cry”…..true story!

Anyway, this job was amazing, I’d definitely say an eye-opening experience in many ways. My role was to develop a programme that would reduce reoffending through employability. As it was a pilot, I had a blank canvas of how it would look and operate. My employer at the time gave me the autonomy to deliver the programme the way I wanted and always supported my choices. The programme had to be a success as the funding depended on it and more importantly; I wanted to give people the opportunity to change their lives.


I often get asked, how did I go from working in a prison to starting a digital design agency. As you may have noted from my previous blogs, I decided to work for myself and there are surprising similarities in both, my role in the prison was about identifying an individual’s barriers to employment and trying to find the tools to eliminate them, problem-solving at its best. In my role today, as a business owner and from a design point of view, problem-solving and finding solutions is my favourite thing to do.


When I reflected on what contributed to the successful outcomes from my time in that role, I discovered the prisoners that worked with me to follow these key principles had the highest chance of success. With that in mind, I’ve tried to replicate this in the way I approach any project with my clients at JemDigital:


  1. Analyse


Review current strengths and weaknesses and identify what’s working, what isn’t and where the gaps are. Look at external factors that may have an impact and prepare.


  1. Plan

Create an action plan with not just goals but identifiable actions on both parts on how we plan on achieving them and assign responsibility. Then, work in partnership to meet the goals set.


  1. Deliver


My responsibilities have been identified and it’s important that my commitments are honoured.


  1. Review


With any project, review, review, review. It’s the only way you can identify what’s working, where there may be issues and what actions you need to take next. I love analytics, spreadsheets and data as much as any geek and if you step back, from any situation and look at the details then you have the knowledge to react accordingly.



To summarise, I ran a very successful programme in a difficult environment with an unpredictable client group, so I’m taking the positive actions that contributed to the success and applying them to my business which is in a completely different industry and lucky for me, it’s working!


Lots of love,