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Corporate employee to online Excel trainer, Dan Stockdale with Sudeshna Sen (podcast transcript)

This series continues to look at post corporate career paths. You can find more post-consulting and corporate career paths here.


Sudeshna

Hi, everyone, this is Sudeshna from The Abundance Psyche, and you are listening to the Not-so-Corporate podcast where we talk about all of the not so corporate things we corporate entrepreneurs end up doing within and outside of corporate life. And today I have with me, my very dear friend, Dan (Stockdale), we used to work together in PwC strategy. And a, we were a part of the strategy team, which was also very, very focused on financial modelling. And quite a lot of people used to say, "Okay, I want to do this, I want to build the next startup"


And Dan actually left strategy and thinking about his next business idea. And he's one of those few people who have actually built it out. And yeah, I'm really excited to chat with you today. Dan, how are you?


Dan

Thank you. I'm not doing too badly. Thank you. I'm certainly starting to build it out. I don't know if I'm completely there yet. So yeah, we used to work together. And I think it was back in 2017. And a lot has changed since then. But yes, doing very well. Busy these days. So!


Sudeshna

Yeah. So just for all our listeners, you know, we just ended up recording a whole half an hour. And then I realized that I did not hit the record button- things that happen when you are not paying attention to Zoom! Oh, my God. Sorry about that!


Dan

One of the challenges of online learning and I guess, working over the internet and zoom calls is that it's very easy, to screw up slightly on the technology and not realise...


Sudeshna

Yeah, so talking about that. Tell us what you do, though.


Dan

So what I do now is I, I create online courses. And so it's Excel courses, focused on accountants, consultants, and analysts. And so I'm building out courses, which help people can learn the right parts of Excel to use and actually how to apply them in commercial contexts. And my latest course, which I launch in a couple of weeks at the start of January 2021, will be a modelling course. So it's aimed again, at the same audience, but it's how to create best practice models. And then also, from January onwards, I'm going to do training online as well, like live training. So I will have the same sort of technical technological issues as you I'm sure.


Sudeshna

Oh, my God. Anyway, anyway! But tell me, Dan, while you were leaving PwC, you had a business idea? Is it the same idea?


Dan

No, completely different. Say, I'm trying to think back to when I left PwC, I had, I had in mind that I wanted to start a business. And I had a friend who was in the same boat, he was a lawyer. And we didn't actually end up working together, maybe we will one day. But I think my business idea at the time was, it wasn't a completely original idea. And that there was this to some extent, was to kind of create one of these websites where freelancers could load their profile out. And you could always set up work for them. You know, more and more people are going towards independent working like this gig economy and everything. And see, I think you have more self-employed people out there. And one of the challenges which I had faced before I joined PwC actually was if I wanted to go out tomorrow as a financial modeller, how would I get business and can The only real option you had was recruiting consultants. And so really, it was kind of tricky. build a website for actually decent kind of freelancers, or independent contractors or consultants, where you could really line up work for them. But I never pursued that idea. And now do something completely different.


Sudeshna

Why did you not pursue that idea?


Dan

Is such a long time ago that I can't remember. I think it probably wasn't working with the guy, the guy that I was potentially going to do the venture with. He had a young family, and he just didn't have the time at the time. And then also, it's very easy to when I left PwC, I started consulting with a company. And it's very easy to fall into that because it's quite lucrative in London to do that type of work. And so I drifted towards that with the ideas at the same time going to start setting something up, but it never kind of really quite happened. So I consulted for a while and then I again went and started to do my own offering which is more as an independent consultant, almost creating a business which would be sort of financial remodelling clients. But now I've moved actually complete just towards training.


Sudeshna

So were you building the business and also working as an independent consultant simultaneously? Or did it look like first, you got some money in the bank put that back into the business?


Dan

I think I think when I, when I first left PwC, I was consulting for a while, at the same time, I was starting to build stuff like the website. But I was very much like, I need to leave this, take the plunge and then focus all my efforts on trying to create my offering and get clients in. And I did do that for a while, but I was finding, and as an independent financial modeller with your own website, where you're then to advertising your services, most of the interest is coming kind of from small companies. And that's one of the things which I found, those guys didn't have such a, they didn't have sort of much of a budget, they didn't necessarily know what they want. And if you created a financial model for them, then they didn't really have anyone who could run it if you see, I mean, you need some like Excel skills to actually use this. And so I found that that I didn't really work. But see, yes, at first, I was just doing this consulting. And then actually, when I transitioned to doing that full time, I was very much dedicated to that. But then found Actually, this didn't, it didn't really work. So I had to then move into something else, which is more on the training side.


Sudeshna

So how did you come up with the Excel course idea? Because that sounds very obvious to the next strategy consultant, all of who are Excel and PowerPoint gurus, so to speak. But rarely do I hear about someone who's built a business around the skill that they have developed in their consulting life. How did you come up with that?