Your Name: Gordon Ellard
Job Title: Proprietor and Programme Developer, Bangkok Dolphins
What is your nationality and background?
Born to Scottish and English parents, raised in Thailand and schooled in the UK, I suppose I may be seen as a bit of mix breed! But in short I have Thai and British nationality.
What is your profession?
My role ranges from teaching swimming through to business development, staffing and government work. I can be in the pool and meeting with the Thai Ministry of Education all in one day.
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
A genuine love for teaching children is a must. Patience, a sense of humour and diplomacy helps. Being responsible for a large swimming school comes with the responsibility of making sure our clients receive the best swimming lessons possible.
How did you get involved in your profession?
Whilst my brother in law was coaching the British Olympic Triathlon team, we got into a conversation with regards to the drowning statistics in Thailand. I recognised a real need for high quality swimming lessons offered from an early age for both Thai and expat children. We started very slowly and wanting to get it right with about 20 students, we gradually grew and grew. Those little 12 month olds are now 19 years old!
How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
As previously mentioned, the safety of children is our main objective in offering swimming lessons. A child who is a strong swimmer is opened up to a world of water. It maybe water skiing, water polo, surfing or generally playing in a pool. The world is 75% water so we strive to help children enjoy it all.
What challenges do your face in this role?
In Thailand, we are blessed with year round great weather. Children in our programme develop their skills quickly. Over the years, the children are hitting milestones in the pool earlier and earlier. It is a constant role to keep our programme moving and developing with our student’s ability. Although it’s a challenge, it’s a happy one.
What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
The highest quality swimming experience for safety, fun and fitness.
Who or what inspires you?
Parents! I’m inspired everyday by parents taking the time (and sometimes travelling in Bangkok takes forever..) to bring their babies / children. I have a client who is at our pool 5 times a week with 3 children – that’s commitment.
Only a Bangkok local would know…
Klongs are not only used for transport, fishing and markets…. But an urban playground where local children love to swim and show off their diving skills.
For more information on Bangkok Dolphins please click here.