Posted : 4th December 2014
As Chief Executive of the Broad Street Business Improvement District, Mike Olley is responsible for keeping one of the UK’s most vibrant entertainment areas bouyant and prosperous. A high profile figure in the West Midlands’ commercial and political arenas, Mike is a former Labour Councillor and currently has business interests both in the UK and in the Middle East and China.
Mike, now 54, is originally from Shirley in the West Midlands. As a child Mike describes himself as ‘more interested in sports as academic subjects’, eventually leaving school at 15 with no qualifications. In the years that followed, his work ethic and entrepreneurial zeal saw him build a successful engineering business operating as far afield as Kuwait and Bosnia. However, despite the financial rewards this brought he always felt that he was lacking something, that there was more to life.
Mike decided to take some time out to enrol at Fircroft College in 1992 on a one year course, equivalent to the current Access to Higher Education Diploma in Humanities. Much of what he studied was similar to the present-day course content, including literature and poetry as well as more practical elements such as maths. He describes the experience as, “a revelation, a real life-changer and the pathway to expanding my mind. It was a mix of completely different people on the course but we just seemed to gel and it worked”.
After successfully completing his year at Fircroft, Mike progressed onto a Law degree at the University of Birmingham before becoming a solicitor and then going on to achieve great success in business and politics.
Mike says, ”My time at Fircroft College was the foundation, the platform for everything that followed. It made me a more able businessman as well as a better person, giving me a deeper understanding and appreciation of life.”