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PROFILE: Neil Thompson - Group Brand Manager, Speedy Hire

There are some for whom a job is just a job – they turn up at the office, bash out some emails, make some calls and then go home, satisfied a day's work is done. It's obvious Neil Thompson is not one of those people. Since leaving university he has thrown himself into a variety of jobs, building up an array of skills and making his way up the career ladder to take on the role of group brand manager at FTSE250 tool and equipment hire firm, Speedy Hire, and lead an award-winning marketing campaign. What makes it even more impressive is that he's done it in only seven years.

“I like to think I've got an entrepreneurial background,” he says of his roots, which are placed firmly in the north of England with a business degree at Leeds University. Specialising in marketing during his final year led to a string of achievements such as winning the Manchester Award for the Most Enterprising Student; securing his, “dream job” – a place on the European Graduate Development programme at ICI after graduating (no mean feat – 792 people applied for only two places); and managing to complete that programme within one and a half years (it usually takes four).

Thompson is down to earth despite his success, pointing out that his first position at ICI as product manager for its beverages division was not only an achievement he was proud of, but that working in the beer industry was, “very attractive to a 21-year-old graduate just out of university.” Within three years he had taken on a sales role within ICI as regional sales manager for north UK and Russia, which presented a further challenge. “I'm not a chemist so I had to learn and develop my skills set within the market I was looking after so I could have a credible conversation with a scientist,” he says, admitting it was hard, but adding, “the good news was that I do enjoy reading about how beer is made.”