Byline: Sue Vasey
EVENTS in your childhood often affect the choices you make in later life and for Billy Dickson this is certainly the case.
Now a busy Personal Image Consultant, with a long list of clients, that event happened many years ago during a visit to a neighbour's house.
"When I was young I grew up in a farming community without the luxury of a television set and so once a week I used to go to a neighbour's house to watch Top of the Pops. Like all young kids I was incredibly impressionable and when I saw the reaction the Walker Brothers had on the women in the room, it really hit me just how much your image affects other people's impression of you."
It took many years for this realisation to be finely tuned into a successful career but Billy Dickson is now called on for image advice by politicians, media figures and senior business executives throughout Europe and North America.
"I actually call it `Personal Marketing' because I market people the way other people market products. Whether you are going for a job interview, promotion or are taking over a company as a senior executive, the way you present yourself says a lot about the way you will do the job.
"People come to me from a wide range of professions and backgrounds but they all have the same aim - they want to make the best of what they have."
With the ever increasing competition for jobs, Billy Dickson seems to offer that elusive quality in job hunting - an advantage over the competition.
One recent client who used Billy Dickson's services is a young Northern Ireland student desperate to get into Oxford. In order to prepare himself for the Oxbridge interview he has undergone rigorous training which involved preparing his application and practising an interview situation.
"I used the services of an academic at the University of Ulster at Jordonstown who put the young man through a typical Oxbridge interview which we secretly filmed. Afterwards we were able to sit down with him and examine his strengths and weakness and then develop strategies to help him improve. Hopefully when he goes for his interview he will be as well, if not better, prepared than the other students."
Billy has also been called on by a number of leading media figures in the Province who have used his analysis of their image and body language to help further their careers. Not surprisingly though, he is hesitant to name names.
"I have always ensured that people who come to me do so in confidence. It would be wrong to name any of my clients but a number of very senior figures have sought my advice" he said.
His reputation has spread beyond the shores of the UK and his client list now numbers senior figures in industry and politics across Scandinavia, mainland Europe, Canada and the USA.
A far cry from the young boy growing up in a farming community in County Armagh. …