Building her biggest global team yet, Odette Wohlman and Qualified Tutor

Odette Wohlman is co-founder of Qualified Tutor, the professional development community for tutors. She is not a tutor. Odette is mother of four, a business coach and now a fierce advocate for improved standards in tutoring. But what’s her personal and professional story and why is she on a mission to raise standards in tutoring?

‘My background is not education at all. I was going to go to university and do a degree in Drama and Education. I wanted to be a drama teacher, but I couldn’t afford to go to university. Mum was a single mum and I had to take a year out to earn to be able to go to university. In that year, I progressed. I was working at PizzaHut as a waitress and by the end of the year, I was their Area Coordinator for all their training and development. I was earning a lot of money at the age of nineteen and I thought

‘Why am I going to go to university? All these people are leaving in three, four years and they’re not even earning as much as I am now. It doesn’t make any sense. So I didn’t go. 

I progressed my way up at Pizza Hut and I ended up leaving there as their Training and Development Manager for the UK and Ireland. I managed all their franchises’ training and development. I used to work with the team in the States and bring their material over. Everyone in the company knew me because I trained all their restaurant managers. Then I left, went off travelling and did what I should have done when I was at university.’

Odette had been travelling for nine months when a friend of hers, who had started working at a software company, told her that her new employers were looking for a trainer in Sydney. ‘I interviewed while I was in Brazil. I put a t-shirt over my bikini, had the interview, came back to the UK, finalised the interview, got the job. But we needed to wait for my visa to go back to Australia. 

Whilst she was waiting for the visa to come through, the company’s Implementation Manager walked out. They offered her that job, too. ‘Within three months, I was their Operations Director. I had the implementation team, their account managers, their support team, and I was travelling back and forth from Australia because I was managing the team there and seeing clients in Singapore. 

Over the next thirteen years, whilst working and travelling, Odette married an old school friend, Alan Wohlman and had four children. ‘I was then one of the senior project managers at a company called Deltech, which is a huge software company. I ran multi million pound projects for them. I built a team in the Philippines and the Nordics, and then I was headhunted to join a startup crypto company, Celcius. In three months there, I built a global operations team of about thirty in the States, Serbia, UK, Israel, all over the place.’

Then in November 2021, after being at Celcius for five and a half months, Odette was diagnosed with cancer.

‘During that time, I realised that I was ready to set up on my own. I wanted to take everything I’d learned in big business and make it available to sole traders and SMB. I also do some heavily discounted work with charities and local community initiatives. My business is called Beyond the Chaos. I work with the team and get them beyond the ‘chaos’ of growth.’

Odette and Julia Silver, founder of Qualified Tutor and former school leader, met through their children, who were in the same classes at primary school. ‘Julia was one of my first clients. She had this gorgeous business, but we needed to monetise it. We needed to turn it into a business that was bringing in revenue.’

As she began to understand Julia’s mission, Odette started to reflect on her own behaviour as a parent employing tutors. ‘I was a parent of four, travelling the world, spending about a thousand pounds a month on tutoring because I was so desperate. But not once had I ever asked a tutor for a DBS. I just assumed because they’re a qualified teacher, it’s okay. It never occurred to me that these teachers would have anything but the highest level of safety and quality assurance in place. But as I spoke with more tutors and tutoring businesses I discovered that no, not everyone in this industry puts safety and quality ahead of revenue.

‘The fact that I now knew this made me feel a huge responsibility. Just because a market is unregulated, it doesn’t reduce the need to do the right thing. In fact it’s the opposite.’ 

Finally, Odette agreed to go into business with Julia, to share the mission and make a difference. ‘This is a social action project for me. It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m a qualified teacher’. Where’s your insurance? What are you role modelling to these children? That it’s okay because you’ve got a degree? No, absolutely not. The degree doesn’t even say that you’re good. It just says that you can do a degree. Which is also why I’m really passionate that a tutor doesn’t have to be a qualified teacher.’ 

Odette is one of those people who brings her whole self to everything she undertakes. ‘I’ve been able to use my skill sets from all my past roles. Planning and executing events, project management, and coaching techniques are activities I’ve done all my working life. But the Qualified Tutor membership is the biggest global team I’ve ever built!’

Odette is a masterful business coach, determined to help each person find their own truth. ‘I’ve always coached. At PizzaHut, I wrote and ran the coaching program. When you coach someone, you build a relationship. You become so bought into what they’re doing as well, because you understand their why. When I coach, I’m always looking at the why. I’m like, why are you doing this? Why are you a tutor? If they say ‘I want an easy life, and I want to pick up the kids from school.’ Every decision that they make in the business has to go back to that. Don’t try to do something where you’re going to end up working sixty hours a week, because you won’t be happy.’

Odette is excited about the next phase of Qualified Tutor. ‘We are always listening to our members, and we are always innovating. From September 2024, you will see a gear change in our messaging. We welcome all tutors and tutoring businesses to join us in raising standards in tutoring, together.’

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