Staff Spotlight: Kevin Cullen

Course Director (Job Resources & Employment Coach)


How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

My biggest change has been in the area I teach at Vantage TEFL - resume preparation and interview coaching.

Many of our TEFL trainees come from successful careers, but in different industries. I too did something similar starting as an English teacher, then a petroleum services executive and subsequently corporate banker.

It’s been particularly rewarding to teach how skills – which are transferable between industries – are a powerful component in a successful resume. They speak to how you will perform in a new position.

We had a physiotherapist training at Vantage. We highlighted her experience of running the physical training programs for the men’s basketball team – highlighting her result of having the first injury-free season – to get her an offer as both a language teacher and PE instructor.

She was a non-native speaker applying for a job advertising “native speakers only.” It was particularly gratifying to learn she was invited to interview based upon the strength of her application materials.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Probably the ‘magic story.’

One of our graduates ran the Magic Department – essentially the concierge service – of Hilton’s luxury service apartments in Colombo.

The problem was that the Hilton was getting negative customer experience surveys, resulting in a decline in repeat sales. Ouch! Previously the hotel spent a considerable sum training staff in an offsite, fully equipped, training center. However, these actions were ineffective.

Our graduate changed this by taking his team directly into the apartments and focusing training right there. He quizzed them on where everything was located – answering the most common customer queries – as well as the full parameters of each unit, so they could quickly figure out the rest.

The surveys quickly turned positive and Hilton’s GM cited him as going “over and beyond” in exemplary service.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Vantage is involved in many aspects of the English Language Teaching (ELT) industry in Thailand aside from its TEFL program. We stand out in our role as a Cambridge English Exam Centre. We deliver world-class tests to Thai schools and universities.

We teach our TEFL trainees how to measure a student’s language level and what computer-adaptive testing can bring to teaching.

We believe assessment is a key skill that every teacher should know. Governments worldwide are increasingly using tools like the CEFR - the industry standard for measuring language proficiency - as a key resource for educational policy.

I was particularly proud when Vantage secured one of the first global sales of Cambridge’s new Linguaskill test. We are providing this proficiency level exam for a major 2016-17 research project for Thailand's education sector.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

There are many factors that come into play in running a company. However, I believe that most important ones have little do with balance sheets, finance, manufacturing or marketing.

The most important overarching variable to success in business is you.

And success, however you choose to define it, is a continual work in progress. The fantastic thing about developing traits like internal passion and purpose is that your progress comes out authentically in all phases of your business.

When people can genuinely feel that you love what you are doing, you are an incredibly convincing salesperson – without actually trying to sell anything.

Watch any Steve Jobs keynote video. He wasn’t an engineer, nor a designer, he didn’t have a college degree. What he had was passion…in spades…success just showed up as mileposts along the road.