With her love of classical history, a lifetime of digging up old artefacts or minding the exhibits in a musty museum. beckoned for Andrea Staley.
However, she turned her back on a Time Team-style career to pursue the law – and she has no regrets about doing so.
Andrea, who hails from Stockton, Teesside, left school in her home town in 1995 and studied classics at Manchester University, where she gained a 2.1 degree.
The course meant three years spent delving into the depths of ancient Rome, exploring the architecture of the Greeks and unravelling the mummies of ancient Egypt.
It left Andrea with an overwhelming desire to travel – but uncertainty when it came to what career path lay ahead.
She says: “I did classics at A-level and I did some Latin at school. It was exciting to be in a classroom being shown some bits of ‘rock’ that turn out to be ancient bread.
“I contemplated being an archaeologist, but camping isn’t for me!
“Being curator of the British Museum would be my fantasy job, but I didn’t fancy a career digging around on my hands and knees.”
Andrea saved up for a year and went backpacking with a university pal.
In Australia, she took part in a skydive on the Whit Sunday Islands. She says: “It was something I had always wanted to do since I was a little girl.
“Going backpacking, you meet other backpackers and they always ask ‘have you done your skydive yet?’ It’s almost like it’s compulsory!”
The year-long trip took her to Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and New York.
While based in Sydney for five months, Andrea gained employment with an online grocery company.
“I had the opportunity to secure employment with a company that dealt with grocery shopping online – which in 1999, when mobile phones were still the size of bricks – was very much a new thing,” she says.
“The business boomed overnight and I threw myself into working from 8am until midnight for a number of weeks.”
“I relished the opportunity to be a part of this new venture and when the boss brought in pizzas and cola for our tea and thanked us for all our effort, it was all worthwhile.
“My office was based on the Rocks in Sydney and after catching the ferry to work I would arrive at my desk with a view of the Harbour Bridge.
“You can therefore imagine the culture shock when I returned to the UK and had to catch the bus to an industrial estate to work at Orange mobile phones – with a view of the car park!”
It was back in the UK that Andrea’s pursuit of the law began.
It all started over a pint in the local pub when her brother-in-law mentioned the post graduate diploma in law course that his sister had completed.
Following that conversation, Andrea began to think about the conversion course.
After gaining an A-level in law at night school, she went on to complete the post graduate diploma and conversion course – which is where having a good quality degree came in.
Andrea went on to gain a role as a paralegal with solicitors Levi & Co in Leeds.
This soon turned into a training contract and Andrea’s passion for employment law – which had begun to grow on the course – was firmly cemented.
Andrea went on to have an eight-year career with Chadwick Lawrence Solicitors, working as an employment law solicitor responsible for advising both employees and employers on a daily basis in respect of both contentious and non-contentious issues.
The corporate life of a big regional law firm was an experience not to be missed.
But when the opportunity to join a family business came up – where Andrea could carve out a career path in a niche company specialising in employment law – she decided to jump ship and become a part of the team at Howarths People and Safety Management.
She says: “On my first day, I was greeted with a welcome card on my desk which everyone had signed.
“I was so touched I had to blink back the tears. To be welcomed in the way that I have, made to feel supported and valued in a relatively short space of time, is truly refreshing.”
Andrea, who lives in Leeds, also enjoys the team spirit at the firm’s Cleckheaton offices.
“There are certainly some differences here at Howarths from what one would expect to see at a city law firm – such as seeing the chairman, Andy Howarth, dancing with the cleaner on day two and then collecting rubbish from the car park on day three!
“This is the Howarths way – to all muck in and support the community offering a professional and pro active service to businesses of all sizes, and I couldn’t think of a better place to work.”
Andrea also enjoys a happy home life. She met husband Ed seven years ago. The couple were married in 2011 and now have a two-year-old daughter, Sophie.