Staff Spotlight: James Choles

November 3, 2022 2:28 pm
James in suit

Our next staff spotlight episode focuses on our Learning & Design Programme Manager, James Choles.

James was born in St Leonards-on-sea and spent most of his teenage years in Brighton, he is very much Sussex born and bred! However, when James was 11 years old, he and his family moved to La Paz, Bolivia. He told us that ‘it was an incredible experience in itself, so much so that it ignited a lifelong passion to travel and explore other cultures and languages.’ In fact, since then, James has lived and worked in China, Sri Lanka and Singapore. It was only last Christmas that James moved back to the UK.

Currently, James lives in Canterbury. Despite plans to move back to Sussex, he and his wife have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Kent coast – from Broadstairs, the walk along the coast to Margate and the walk to Whitstable along the Crab and Winkle way. He told us ‘Coastlines are some of my favourite places, hearing the sound of the sea always makes me feel incredibly calm.’ James and his wife also enjoy mini excursions to Deal and Dover. However, it is not all sea and sand that they appreciate, ‘We also love being in and around woodland or anywhere with hills and mountains.’

James in jungle

James studied English and Philosophy at the University of Kent followed by a part-time master’s qualification in English Literature at the University of Sussex. James told us that he thought of doing a PhD but couldn’t endure another English winter!

Following his education, James has had a number of different roles throughout his career, including a teacher, trainer, manager of trainers and now a learning designer with Roffey Park Institute. Before his current role, James spent many years with the British Council. He told us, ‘I just love being in a room with people (real or virtual) and discussing anything and everything communication or leadership related.’

James on the coast

Last year James trained as a coach with the Co-Active Training Institute. Understanding and teaching experiential learning is something that James is really keen to develop further. On his current role, James explained that ‘the one thing I really appreciate about working for Roffey Park is being surrounded by so many passionate and knowledgeable people. Every day is an education here and I feel myself growing as a person and as a professional.’

James in China

In his free time James loves to read. On his bedside table, he currently has ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’, by Laurie Lee, John Betjeman’s ‘Collected Poems’, ‘First Person Singular’, by Haruki Murakami and Michael Palin’s ‘Into Iraq’. Other interests include Cycling, especially the Tour de France, Women’s Football and Test Cricket, but not the short format stuff!

An interesting fact about James is that his maternal grandfather was French, meaning that he can apply for citizenship, which he is currently doing. Furthermore, he has not eaten any meat since 1995, an admirable feat. ‘It has not been an easy ride, especially during the years that I worked and lived in Asia.’ One of James’ most memorable achievements was when he cycled the entire South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne in a single weekend, even though he could not walk for days after!

Since James joined Roffey Park not long ago, he has cemented himself as a vital part of the team. He has been described as a calming oasis, in what can often feel like chaos, by his peers and as well as the valued input of his work, it is James’ humour that is a welcome tonic amongst his co-workers. His close colleague Leigh told us, ‘I couldn’t ask for a more supportive colleague or fellow creative brainstormer.’

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