Inspired by an apprentice

I recently started working with and for Aspen Medical Advisory Services. We produced a document called Getting to 2023: COVID-19 and other issues for business. It is a thought piece to consider the ways of doing business now COVID-19 is firmly entrenched in our lives.

I wrote fair chunks of it as well as editing and project managing its production.

There’s a dot point on page 7 addressing innovation: Does this upheaval offer opportunities that would or could not have worked before? Is there a silver lining?

This thought came directly from a visit to my hairdresser.


I met a brand new first year apprentice called Sarah. She was friendly and gave great head massages. Pretty standard sounding for an apprentice, right? Well not really, because Sarah is a 37 year-old man. We didn’t discuss her identity and frankly that’s irrelevant anyway.

I watched her while I waited for my colour to do its thing and she was amazing. Constantly smiling, cleaning or folding everything in sight (without direction), she was genuinely a lovely presence in the salon.

My hairdresser told me that Sarah is the best apprentice they had ever had. Her maturity is her single best attribute (among many) and everyone knew that without the current environment of chronic skills shortages, she would not have had a hope in hell of getting an apprenticeship.

Yet there she was, and I’ve told everyone I know about her. Not a lot has been good about COVID-19, and I despair for what’s coming. But I see this as a wonderful example of what’s possible and a true silver lining.

May there be more Sarahs in our lives.

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