My first job...Helen Pattinson, Co-founder and Director, Montezuma's Chocolates

Helen tells us about the first job she had after taking her A-levels...

As soon as I was able to, I signed myself up to a temping agency. I think I was 17 and had just finished my A-levels. They obviously didn’t think they would find me any work, but I phoned them every day until they came up with something. I had no skills barring a smile, basic computer knowledge and some common sense and I didn't care what I did so long as I could earn some money to take me travelling across North America.Finally, the agency sent me to the head office of Legal & General, a huge sprawling place in the Surrey countryside. I was one of about 40 data-inputters, dealing with a change in the national insurance legislation which meant that the entire database had to be amended, one customer at a time. They lined us up, each with a computer terminal, in a large room and we tapped away at keyboards, frantically trying to reach set inputting targets. Despite the monotony, I absolutely loved it. The camaraderie was fantastic and we managed to get the work done and create a great team spirit at the same time. There was only one member of permanent staff managing the whole team and  he seemed to appreciate that the work would be soul-destroying without the freedom to chat.I ended up staying there for three months, made some great friends,  learned some valuable lessons about team spirit and targets, motivation and work ethic.  It was the start of many lessons in life and business.

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