Ducking out of a packed Baker Street station in the middle of the school holidays, I headed towards Madame Tussauds and even more children. Luckily I was able to sneak around the back – I had been invited to interview George Paige, a Magic Maker for Merlin Entertainments. One hell of a job title.
George’s job is possibly one of the best in the UK and as we start to stroll around the wax figures, after I’ve had a rather special behind-the-scenes tour (sorry, photos weren’t allowed), he begins to tell me his story.
Mr Paige studied Law at university and whilst he enjoyed parts of it, other elements he deeply disliked. This is of course fairly common for amongst students, but George felt he just couldn’t continue doing the aspects he didn’t enjoy. As we wander past Yoda in the Star Wars section, George tells me that he went as far as dropping out of his degree and re-starting the year so he could change the focus of his studies. The experience brought into clarity how much he needed to enjoy what he did, and this was far more important to him than a flashy city salary.
Watching the rabble of tourists vying to stand next to the model of the Queen, I ask George how he ended up with Merlin Entertainments, though feel I am asking a relatively obvious question. ‘A mate sent me a link to the grad scheme, complete coincidence.’ He says that looking into Merlin would never have occurred to him if it wasn’t for that. His fit with the company seems faultless, and he is evidently loving his career.
With his arm slung around a Boris Jonson placed a little too close to 10 Downing Street, I finally ask him what exactly it is he actually does. George is a Group Intellectual Property Manager within the ‘Merlin Magic Making Division within Merlin’. When he tells me his official job title I hate to admit that my eyes automatically glazed over and I though he was about to ruin my dreams of what magic making might entail, and yours too. However, turns out I needn’t of worried as with Merlin, working in IP means that it’s his role to manage relationships with brands or individuals who are having rides and attractions created in their name. He then project-manages the creation and launch – think roller coasters and celebrity models.
Could it be as good as it sounds? It seems that the answer is resoundingly yes – but it’s difficult to know for certain as George was sizing up Henry VIII at the time. He has worked in Germany on a Ghostbusters 5D interactive ride, in Madame Tussauds Amsterdam on a Marvel immersive figure set and is currently working towards launching a hotel with the BBC in Alton Towers – to just name a few projects over the past couple of years.
But more important than the obvious glamour, George loves it as no two days are the same, he is constantly meeting new people, and has the flexibility and responsibility to shape the role. As it’s project based, he really is all over the place, having recently got back from a trip to Germany to launch another ride and having been at Alton Towers yesterday to show celebrities their models. George is really ‘not a morning person’ but has never struggled to get up for work.
Of course, no job is perfect – someone has to put mist on Justin Bieber’s naked torso every day – but for George it mostly comes down to office politics and the occasional bit of red tape, something everyone who doesn’t work for an early stage start-up has to put up with. But this is someone who is fully aware how lucky he is that he has landed by pure chance in an industry he absolutely loves and frankly, excels at, straight out of university.
All in all, I’m pretty bowled over by what he does for a living as you can probably tell, and standing next to George Clooney is definitely helping.
I’m not only interviewing men who are dissatisfied law grads, promise. If you have an inspirational story of your own that you’d like to share, get in touch.