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Cumbria Careers Hub: Gareth O'Rourke, DGTLOnline and Lake District Hub

Photo of Gareth O'Rourke Gareth O'Rourke

Gareth O’Rourke, Managing Director at DGTLOnline Ltd and Lake District Hub Ltd, is an Enterprise Adviser at Kirkbie Kendal School. Here, he shares his career story and what he finds most rewarding about volunteering with Cumbria Careers Hub as an Enterprise Adviser.

Tell us about your day job... what does it involve?
My day job is extremely varied, I run a digital marketing agency working with a range of clients in different industries across SEO, Website Design, Social Media, Paid Media, Affiliate Marketing, Content Marketing and digital and ecommerce consultancy and the overall principle is to help clients grow their digital presence through these mediums. I own a tourism website servicing the Lake District and Cumbria, helping businesses in the visitor sector become more visible. In addition, I also own a CBD company and I am about to launch another business in the wellness space.

What is the best thing about your job?
Working in one of the most dynamic industries and working across a range of different clients, means no two days are the same. The variety of the role and helping other businesses grow is extremely rewarding.

Tell us about your education and career history...
My education history wasn’t the best one to be honest, I achieved moderate grades at GSCE level and then went onto take a GNVQ in leisure and tourism, however, wasn’t able to complete that course due to a car accident that saw me hospitalised for a 6 month period. The school at the time had no interest in helping me catch up, which then meant any opportunity of attending university had completely vanished. There was a range of careers advice that really stuck with me during school, the main one being the careers advisor insisting that I joined the army, due to the fact I did boxing as a sport outside of school, even though I had a older brother in the army and said that wasn’t the route I wanted to take. It really left me thinking there must be a way to do this better and that future generations deserved more, which is one of the main reasons why I became an EA.

My career has been an interesting one.

At the age of 21 I set up a retail business and developed this into a 3 retail stores and an online business selling mid market branded ladies fashion aimed at the 18-35 year old consumer. I then decided to wind this business down after 13 years and took a temporary position as a digital marketing executive for a holiday park group where I spend 4 months before taking a role for Pure Leisure Group as digital marketing manager heading up the digital for the 9 holiday parks and their 5 star luxury resort in Barbados. I spent 12 months in this role before moving to Lakelovers, the leading holiday cottages company in the Lake District as Head of Sales and Marketing where I spent 8 months working on a digital transformation project. I then took a role as Director of International Ecommerce and Buying for CHO Fashion and Lifestyle where I spent 5 years heading up a team of 23 people across multiple departments. During my time here we won numerous awards and became one of the leaders in the UK in this sector. I grew the UK website by 500% during my time here and repositions the business with the product offering and brands. I then left this role to set up to help the visitor sector during the pandemic, I also was doing some digital consultancy and then set up offering a full service digital marketing services at affordable prices. In addition to this I am a co-owner of a CBD company and I am also about to launch a new business in the wellness sector.

If you could pick any person or organisation to get involved in working with young people, who would it be and why?
I think that’s a really difficult questions, as to me it’s about who young people look up to and that can be different for each person. Anyone who has been successful in business should be a role model, not just those that have made a lot of money, but also those that have helped changed peoples lives. A great example of this is Bill Gates, someone that created one of the biggest businesses in the world, however now spends most of his time helping solve 3rd world problems via the foundation that he and his wife set up.

What do you enjoy most about being an Enterprise Adviser?
Knowing that I could be making a difference to a young person’s life and giving them the opportunities that I didn’t have as a young person.

What would you say to someone else about the value of working with young people or being an Enterprise Adviser?
Often, we get to wrapped up in our own worlds and forget what is happening around us. Young people are our future and society need to invest into that and by giving a small amount of time, you could be changing someone’s life in a positive way. The feeling that gives you is so rewarding and if you want to become an EA, then any additional voluntary work always benefits your own CV and can help with your own career progression.

What would you say to any young person thinking about their future?
I did not excel at school, however looking back now, if I had spent more time and focus on certain subjects then it would have made a positive impact on my career opportunities and future. Maths, English and Science are so important along with having a good understanding of Digital and IT. I would also say be flexible, the world of work is changing, and it will be likely that you might have to pivot your career path and that’s ok. Take the time to learn more, look at internships, there is nothing wrong with working for free if its going to enable to move your career on. I would also say have confidence in your own abilities and don’t be afraid to find your voice. The last thing I would say is that everyone fears making a mistake, it’s a natural part of business and often how businesses learn and improve, it’s actually OK to fail as long as you learn from those failures.

There is a range of opportunities in Cumbria for business-people and organisations to engage and benefit from partnership with local schools and colleges.

We are looking for employers to share their career story and inspire the next generation through videos, virtual work experience and engaging with school career events; The Enterprise Adviser Network – which Gareth is a part of – involves business volunteers working with a specific school or college to strengthen and support career programmes; and becoming a Cornerstone Employer allows businesses to represent their sector and give a Cumbria-wide view. Together, they aim to ensure all young Cumbrians are prepared and inspired for the world of work.

If you’re interested in getting involved, or would like more information, please email Craig Ivison, Cumbria LEP Skills Manager:

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