Challenges Worldwide ICS placement gave Matt a new passion

Matthew Collier, 19, from Brighton, was always worried his dyslexia would hold him back from getting ahead. Now back from his Challenges Worldwide ICS placement in Lusaka, Zambia, he’s got a new lease of life and passion for overcoming his learning difficulty – having recently become qualified with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

I’m not very academic. My journey through school involved a lot of tutoring. It wasn’t easy. What was heartbreaking for me was the moments where I’d try and try to learn, putting in months of effort – only to fail the tests year after year.

It made me look at university like a daunting monster. The system told me I couldn’t make it. I put in the hours and I put in the effort, but yet I could never succeed. In the end I just gave up.

Matt with fellow Challenges ICS volunteers at a CMI event

Going away with Challenges Worldwide ICS changed everything. While on placement in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, I worked with a solar enterprise. They were using affordable technology to provide Zambian communities with clean energy. We were helping deconstruct their business, analyse it and suggest improvements that we as a team could implement.

I’d never done anything like this before. Suddenly I was having to understand what it meant to be a consultant whilst applying the same knowledge in practical workplace situations.

"We were helping deconstruct their business, analyse it and suggest improvements"

When I was introduced to the CMI Level 5 Professional Consulting Qualification as part of my Challenges Worldwide ICS placement, I knew it was going to be a huge challenge for me – but an opportunity to prove I can manage my dyslexia. Studying to achieve the diploma really broke boundaries for me.

I’m 19. I’d never had any experience of consulting before ICS. Luckily for me, I was teamed up with three amazing people who taught me so much about working with businesses.

The CMI qualification took a lot of work and that didn’t stop when my placement ended. Back in the UK, I had to write six essays and do an action project before becoming qualified. Finding it incredibly difficult to learn using traditional methods, this work reminded me of the intimidating monster of university.

Matt Collier after his Challenges Worldwide CMI placement

But I tried and tried some more and finally succeded. People were right – if you put your mind to it, you do always get there in the end. I remember high fiving the air late one night when I received my confirmation.

Before ICS I didn’t know where I was going. I thought I’d end up working the same dead-end jobs. I didn’t like where I was. Now I’m back, and as for my future goals – the sky is the limit. I’m not afraid any more. By the time I’m 30 I want my own NGO. You can hold me to that.

Read the original article, written by Jack Howson, in the International Citizen Service website