Ten years is always a milestone, in our personal lives as well as business. As parents, for example, we celebrate our children going into ‘double digits’ when they turn 10.
This year, Little Voices is celebrating 10 years of Grace Markham, who is our newly appointed business development manager.
Nurturing homegrown talent
Two of our core beliefs at Little Voices are:
that each and every person has something amazing to share;
and that it’s important to inspire everyone to be the best that they can be.
And while we often talk about these in our customer marketing, they’re just as important for us internally, too. We’re also firm believers in the importance of nurturing homegrown talent as part of our leadership strategy – because we feel it fosters a culture of empowerment, ownership, and loyalty to the brand.
From first pupil, to first foot in the door Grace has actually been part of our Little Voices family since 2007 when, aged 16, she joined us as one
of our very first pupils. She completed her musical theatre qualifications with us, achieving grade 8 in her Lamda exams (which
is the highest grade anyone can reach). From there, she went on to university to complete a degree in drama; but like lots of young graduates,
she didn’t have a clear idea of what she wanted to do next. However, we’d kept in contact throughout this time, so I asked her if she’d like to help out in my first flagship franchise – and this turned out to be Grace’s first foot in the Little Voices Head Office door 10 years ago.
Little Voices in her veins
At that time, as well as teaching, I was also dealing with the children and families myself, so Grace’s role was very much as a hands-on assistant, doing anything and everything that was needed. She dealt with some undeniably mundane tasks, from carrying equipment bags to lessons and
registering children’s attendance, to helping me with the scripts (and everything in-between!). Then, having experienced Little Voices lessons both as a pupil and as an onlooker, she decided she wanted to become even more involved. So she worked her way through all the relevant qualifications and became a Little Voices drama tutor.
Right from the start, Grace fully embraced my ethos of teaching, and also learned how to apply the LAMDA syllabus that’s such an integral part of what we do at Little Voices. It was clear even then that she had Little Voices blood running through her veins!
Flourishing in our flagship franchise
Not one to rest on her laurels, when she wasn’t teaching drama, she worked in my flagship franchise doing admin work, where she positively flourished! She quickly picked up key sales and marketing skills; and having the benefit of experiencing Little Voices both as a pupil and as a tutor, she instinctively knew how to take parents on the perfect Little Voices journey and nurture them along the way.
From managing their expectations, answering a multitude of questions, and alleviating any concerns that might crop up, she took everything in her stride.
By this stage, Grace had developed into a well-rounded member of the Little Voices team and was firmly entrenched as my right-hand woman. And because she’d now had experience in running all areas of the business, the natural next step was to think about buying her own Little Voices franchise.
However, our franchise growth had really started to take off and I couldn’t think of anyone who was better-suited to help me build and manage our expanding network. And so I asked Grace to consider a permanent position as one of our key personnel in Head Office – and
was delighted when she said ‘yes’!
A key role in our continued success
Since then, Grace has played a crucial role in helping Little Voices get to where we are today. She’s supported our franchisees throughout their business journeys; headed up national and local marketing; delivered franchisee training; developed our Ops Manual, and helped organise our hugely
anticipated and ever-popular national conference each year. From very humble beginnings as a young graduate carrying my bags to lessons each week 10 years ago, Grace has worked her way up to having an in-depth understanding of every area of our business, and
every layer of our organisation.
Just as importantly, she also understands how I work, how my mind works, and how our Head Office needs to function to ensure the continued success of our network. Plus, she can provide a wealth of valuable insights that help our whole organisation. Having held the Little Voices reins over a critical period for our business during the Covid-19 pandemic, Grace has fully-earned her place as a valuable, trusted, and loyal member of our Little Voices family.
She’s now a mum of 2 very young children and has just returned from maternity leave – and is positively leaping into her new role as business development manager. Not only that, but she’s also going to be embarking on the bfa’s QFP training to become a Qualified Franchise Professional.
Living by our beliefs
The very best relationships are those where both parties are equally invested. And while Grace has embraced every challenge and opportunity with open arms, for our part, we’ve lived by our beliefs that everyone has something amazing to share, and that it’s important to inspire everyone to be the best that they can be.
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Grace Markham!
Jane James (nee Maudsley), Little Voices Founder & CEO