‘Your job doesn’t have to be dull at all, if you find and use your talents.'

Tom Marshall is not just a bright talent, but a young one as well: he is only 24 years old. He graduated two years ago but says he already found his place in life. He is a consultant at Deloitte and the founder of personal development organization Extraordinary Life. We talked to him about coaching and career choices over the phone, while he was enjoying the sunrise over the river Meuse from his vantage point – the 24th floor of Deloitte’s office at Wilhelminakade. Today he will deliver a speech on the future of work and education at an Erasmus University College event: The Road to 2084.

Why did you choose to study at Erasmus University?
‘I grew up in Worcestershire, a county close to Birmingham in the UK. That’s where I got my strange accent from,’ he laughs.
‘I came to Rotterdam when I was 18. People were wondering why I wanted to go to the Netherlands, since we have great universities in England. But getting in to the likes of Oxford or Cambridge is incredibly competitive, and it is extremely expensive as well. The Economics bachelor at Erasmus University is excellent - I believe it was ranked in the top 40 worldwide, and coming here enabled me to accelerate my personal development in an international environment. Looking back, moving to Rotterdam was the best decision of my life so far. 
Towards the end of my bachelor in economics, I became very interested in innovation and change – so I decided to do my Master in Innovation Management at the RSM, and I graduated cum laude in summer 2016. During my exchange in Hong Kong, I met my girlfriend. She’s from Paris and just moved to Rotterdam, after 3 years of us travelling back and forth.’

And then you started at Deloitte?
‘Yes, I got the job at Deloitte Netherlands in September 2016, having previously completed an internship there. At first I was a strategy consultant, but remained passionate about change and innovation. I realised that some of my talents, such as public speaking and developing others were not being utilised in my daily job. So I started my own organisation Extraordinary Life during my evenings, and it’s going very well. I still work at Deloitte, although now I’m an internal innovation consultant.’

What is Extraordinary Life?
‘It is an organisation that empowers people to define what an extraordinary life looks like for them and take tangible steps towards realising it. Our mission? To quote the website, “We believe that everyone has the potential to live an extraordinary life. Everyone can be extraordinary in their own way, by utilising their own unique combination of talents, activities they love and contributions they want to make. Our mission is founded upon these beliefs: to radically evolve society's view of work and education and create a community of 100 million people that strive to live an extraordinary life.”’

That’s not a modest mission?
‘I work with a great team and we coach groups of people working at Deloitte, as well as students at Erasmus University, and others. I strongly believe in bringing people together, coaching them to do some soul-searching to discover what they really love – and then actively working on achieving this. Finding your passion in life is the best method to gain both success and fulfilment.’

'Finding your passion in life is the best way to have some social impact on society.'

Alumnus Tom Marshall, founder of Extraordinary Life

And how do we find that passion?
‘Passion is the combination of three questions - what are your talents? What makes you happy? And what do you want to contribute to others? People tend to forget the last question, but it is a very important one.  Once you have reflected on these questions, it’s then vital to take action – experiment to see how you can utilise these talents, do what you love and contribute to an area you care about. Step off the treadmill of life for a moment and reflect and experiment.’

Today you’ll deliver a speech about the purpose of work during The Road To 2084, an event at the Erasmus University College. What is, in your opinion, that purpose?
‘Work is viewed by the vast majority of society as merely a means to an end. Working 9 to 5 to gain a salary, in order to have a nice time in the evenings, enjoy weekend’s, maybe go on holiday twice a year. As a result, only 13% of the workforce feels “engaged” at work. But work is such a large part of our lives to just accept that. Above all, I believe the purpose of work is to make a contribution to others. It’s about using our natural talents in our daily work and doing what we love to make a difference that we believe in. And through that process, we gain the fulfilment and success that we all crave.’

Are you happy in your career right now?
'Yes, I’m very satisfied with my position at Deloitte - I learn a lot from innovation in this corporate setting and really make an impact here. At Extraordinary Life I can use my talents of bringing people together to empower them to find their passion and set the right goals in life.’

Why did you sign up to coach at the Erasmus Coachcafé?
‘I heard about it and it is very much in line with what we do at Extraordinary Life. It was a nice evening. Although I believe it is even more important for all the students who didn’t sign up; the ones who came to this event were already considering their next steps. I actually believe this kind of coaching should be part of the curriculum for every student. The central purpose of university should be to help students discover what they want to do with their lives.’

More information

You can still sign up for the next EUR Connect Coachcafé at 23 April. EUR Connect is a platform that connects all Erasmus alumni, staff and students to share insights, jobs and mentorships.