What I've Learnt: Andy Lord, CEO of Code Nation

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

With over 20 years of recruitment experience under his belt, Andy’s insider knowledge of the technical and employment sector is unrivalled. He lives and breathes at Code Nation HQ in Manchester, ensuring students are well supported, engaging with the curriculum and securing jobs post-course completion.

Code Nation is a coding school, based in Manchester, which is supported by over 40 businesses who pledge to interview Code Nation graduates when they’re looking to hire a Junior Developer. The school not only teaches students how to code but also helps them to secure jobs and prepare them for the working environment. 

We spoke to Andy to find out a bit more about him.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

At work, I make sure to speak to every one of my colleagues before things start to get busy and set them up for the day with a smile on their face.

At home, a cup of tea and a walk with my dogs does wonders when I need to get my head into gear. 
 
What's been your luckiest break?

At 50 years old, I’ve found a career that I am in love with - this is truly my dream job!
 
What's your best failure?

Failure is a bit of a Victorian phrase, I tend to believe pitfalls are inevitable on your journey to success. 

Looking back on my career so far, I admit there are many things I could have done better. However, failure is not a label I would use personally or professionally. I always say to my colleagues, let’s work on being better rather than dwelling on what went wrong. 

I would consider myself a very positive person, so using words like ‘failure’ don’t resonate with me - I choose my frame of mind. 
 
What is the best investment you've ever made?

My best investment, by far, is the time I’ve put into the people around me. My driving force has always been my colleagues and my friends. 

I would be nothing without my team - helping to nurture their successes but, most importantly, learning from them. 
 
How would you describe your work-life balance?

I’m lucky to say my work-life balance is very harmonious. I know it’s a rare occurrence these days so I’m really grateful to have such a supportive family. 

I met my wife Jane twenty years ago when we were both working in the recruitment industry - we’ve been through thick and thin together. These days, we’re just as busy as each other. She works as an Executive Headhunter and is the director of her own business, alongside her passion for charity work.

Our daughter Charlie works at Code Nation, so we get to see each other at work and at home. I’m sure if you asked her, she would say something along the lines of being incredibly lucky to work alongside her old man...
 
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

Papillon by Henri Charrière. 

It’s such a moving book, and one of my favourite ever reads. The book itself is an exciting and exhilarating tale of resilience. On the surface, the novel depicts a harrowing story where the main character, Papillon, is dragged through the mud. However, the driving force behind the story is his enduring and indomitable spirit which never breaks. It is enough to make even the toughest people cry. 

Sometimes it is important to remind yourself: tomorrow is another day. 
 
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Don’t get that haircut. 

Seriously though, don’t rush to success. I recall being 21 and being so determined to succeed within the next five years, whatever ‘success’ meant. 
 
If I could go back, I’d tell myself to chill out. Success looks a lot different at 21 than it does now at 50. The journey to success takes time, it’s not defined by where you are at a certain age, rather what you have achieved.
 
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

That’s an impossible question, as there are so many moments, big and small, which have influenced my life. 

During my first real job in recruitment I worked alongside a tough taskmaster named Phil Gayle, he later went on to become a newsreader on ITV, Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast and even co-hosted Crimewatch. 

Fast forward to now, it would have to be Dave Muir, my business partner and Co-Founder of Code Nation. Of course, there have been many people in between but in terms of defining influences, those two really stand out.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people

A long time ago, I tried to become a TV chef. I never do things by halves and threw my all into it. I was recently at my mum's and found footage of myself on the Chef vs Britain finals, cooking alongside Gino D’Acampo! It’s on an old VHS tape (remember those), which I really should convert to show everyone. 

I still nurture my love of cooking, but instead of a live studio audience, it’s for my wife, daughter and four dogs. 

One of the highlights of my life was taking my wife to an evening with Paul Daniels. I’m a big fan of card tricks and magic.  

I’ve also recently decided to take up boxing, hoping to live out my dreams of ‘Rocky’-style glory. 
 
What does success look like to you?

In founding Code Nation, my goal was to become a disruptive force, challenging the status quo and calling into question what great education really can be. Our students come from all walks of life, a lot of whom have been unlucky within traditional forms of education. 

We have catapulted people who may have been dismissed by society into the fastest growing global industry, Tech. All it takes is a bit of imagination, forward thinking and a genuine belief in their ability to succeed. 

I’m proud to say I have succeeded in what I set out to achieve, creating a business model that not only works but has a beating heart too. Now I want to get the message out and encourage others to take what we’ve done and improve upon it.  

A personal mission of mine has always been to help 1,000 homeless people off the streets, I’m not there yet but I refuse to give up on it. 

In the long term, it also means having total financial freedom for Jane and our daughter Charlie, with just enough left over for a nice holiday.