Getting To Know You: Rob Heathcote, Director, PG Online

Rob Heathcote

Earlier this year, PG Online was crowned a finalist in The Lloyds Bank Small to Medium Sized Business of the Year Award.

Dubbed the “Oscars of great British Business” by David Cameron, the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards will reveal its winners on 13thNovember.

In the run up to the Awards Ceremony at Grosvenor House, we caught up with Director of PG Online, Rob Heathcote.

Give us a quick rundown of PG Online

PG Online are an educational publisher with a new generation of teaching resources. We have a quickly-proven track record of success in both increasing grades and in improving the work / life balance of teachers having provided over 180,000 lessons to teachers and students representing 60,000 teacher evenings given back.

Since 2016, we have gained endorsement from all major examination boards and won six major industry awards with a further 26 nominations, including those for the British Book Awards Educational Publisher of the Year and the 2018 Lloyds Bank National Business Awards SME of the Year.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

After 13 years of teaching, I realised that the greatest inefficiency in teaching is duplication. Up and down the UK, teachers were burning themselves out planning the same lessons, involving hundreds of teacher-hours to produce thousands of identical worksheets. I wondered, “How could this time be better spent?” and “What is the cost to education of this time?”.

I then used the summer of 2013 in a South London attic to put roughly 50 hours into each lesson of numerous new teaching packs. In the process setting a gold standard of resources, geared to specific courses and exam boards.

These resources were then made available to all, saving countless hours and improving the standard of materials beyond the physical limits of what a single teacher can prepare in a working week. The resources provided confidence to new and non-specialist teachers to fully cover all the details of a particular course.

For experienced Heads of Subjects, the materials provided a turn-key solution to delivering a consistency of excellent across all colleagues in their department.

Who do you admire?

I admire anyone who works hard to make a difference in life. Choosing any particular individual is difficult and would give an unfair representation since there are so many; but good morals, a can-do attitude and great work ethic will go along way in my books.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Ha! That’s a tough one. We have been very fortunate to have made an instant positive impact on the education market and I could not have wished for any better than we have done so far. However, business is only a collection of decisions and success is a matter of getting more of those right than you get wrong! We haven’t got a lot wrong but we have certainly learned over the past five years how to sharpen our processes and improve the quality of our offering well beyond its initial conception.

What defines your way of doing business?

I think business should be fun and worthwhile. If everyone has a sense of purpose and enjoys what they do, things should go well. Business deals are only good deals when both parties feel that they have done well out of it. The hard-nosed business ‘shark’ commonly portrayed is not reality or recipe for longevity and satisfaction in my eyes.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Work hard and be nice to people. Build some experience in an industry you might be interested in. Have a real sense of what you want to change for the betterment of society and be motivated by that rather than by any potential earnings. The world is a big place and there are wonderful opportunities out there to be had.

Meet PG Online and hundreds of other ambitious British businesses at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards ceremony. Book your place here for the 13th November, Grosvenor House Hotel, London.