Staff Spotlight: Thomas Gibbons

Marketing Director


Friendly Londoner who lives in Dublin. Thomas has travelled the world once over and would love do it again. Marketing director of the TEFL academy, he's always looking for new ways to help people to travel and make the world a better place.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory was a night dive in the great barrier reef in Australia. I was proficient at scuba diving at the time but still freaked out by the darkness and size of some of the sea creatures below.

I'm not great at switching off and find myself always being distracted by something around me, especially technology. So when I find myself 20/40 meters deep in an ocean with no external distractions, just the constant feeling of discovery around me. That's the selfish memories I cherish.

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

Yes, of course. As a marketer, I believe in adding value to the customer first. Now working at the TEFL academy, we have such a positive impact around the world. It's only natural to grow as a person working around and speaking to, so many wonderful people.

I take great pride in helping and influencing a market which gives so many people opportunities to develop themselves around the world.

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

I suppose the greatest stories are sometimes the ones from students who don't return and have found a home in one of the locations they travel to. One particular story hosted on our website is a former student named Rosie Thomas.

Rosie, like many people who returned home from traveling (in her case, Australia and South East Asia), hadn't quenched the traveling itch. So 3 weeks back signed up for a TEFL course and, upon completion, had been accepted to teach in either Malaysia, Colombia or Brazil. Rosie ended up picking Brazil, which in my opinion would have been my choice. Rosie is still enjoying life in Brazil.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

We have simplified the market and only offer 2 courses.

I would out of the two choose the Combined Level 5 TEFL Course. The difference being the 20 hours in classroom experience whereas the other course offers online tutorials only.

Personally, I would find being in the classroom with like-minded people more rewarding. I enjoy being around people in general and know I would love tapping into other peoples insights on the course.

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

What makes us unique is we are one of the very few TEFL courses to be certified by two government bodies Ofqual, Qualifi awarded (UK) and DEAC approved (USA), making our TEFL certification the most recognized around the world. That's usually the biggest worry when it comes to TEFL qualifications: a lot of the very cheap courses could be an awarding body not fully certified or pending certification, unfortunately meaning, when schools look into your certification, it's invalid.

Our Level 5 certifications are now the leading standard in the industry and many schools look for Level 5 candidates only, so please be aware.

I'm always proud of the team around me but I think the creation of the TEFL Factbook has been a particular highlight. Again, found on our website, the World TEFL Factbook allows TEFL students to find out exactly what they need to know and key information about any country they are particularly interested in traveling to, requiring just one click. The book itself took over 8 months to complete and required every part of the business to contribute at one point. Only in a huge project like that do you really recognize the unparalleled spirit within the company. We're very grateful for that and don't take it for granted. The fact it's an annual publication means we have started to work on the World TEFL Factbook 2020!

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

Internally: It's our people...

Externally: Adding value and quality...

Internally: Company culture is key to every business whether it's a business of two or two thousand. I've worked in big businesses and found the more someone feels like they are just a role rather than a person, that's when issues arrive. First of all, work is work; people have lives outside the office and it's our duty as employers to really help our staff as much as possible. Celebrating successes however small and being transparent with staff is the key to success.

Externally: In the digital age, it's too easy to push buy, buy, buy marketing messages. A company who adds value will always succeed. We won't be a company who offers the cheapest course on the market because we care about the education and qualification of our students. We instead will produce great programs, relevant tips and advice out to the TEFL community in the hope we do gain some reward along the way. If not at least we gave someone an informed decision along the way. The most important thing is really trying to close that gap of demand for teachers and helping the world be a better place.

In addition, a business should try to supply as much customer support as possible. For example in our particular industry where there is so much choice and information available, it's important to have accessible touch points, pre and post courses (not just during it). We provide extra areas of the business like our jobs board, internships and volunteer programs. All regularly updated to give students the opportunities and key insights before making any decisions. To assist further we are available for advice 24 hours a day, to cope with our global demand. It's not easy but it's important to practice what you preach and we are starting to get good at it.