HE is one of the world’s favourite online trainers – thanks in large part to a series of videos he describes as “Engineer Does Meaning of Life”.

Chris Croft is a Poole-based expert on time management, project management, careers and the eternal question of how to be happy.

In person or on video, the training is delivered with curiosity, enthusiasm and humour – as anyone who has seen his Project Management Rap on YouTube will know.

Mr Croft recently decided to make some of his best content available for free to Poole High School and any other secondary school that asks for it.

“I went to Sherborne School, a bit of a posh school, 40-45 years ago,” he said.

“It was pretty old-fashioned and you basically joined the army or the Foreign Office or became a vicar and they were the three choices – and when I said ‘I want to do engineering’, they said ‘Ooh, well I think we’ve got a pamphlet on that somewhere’."

He says everybody has a choice of six career options: 

1: Corporate ladder climber.

2: Vocation (“most vocations are not that well paid because they know they can pay you quite little and you’ll still do it”). 

3: The easy life (“9-5 job and put all your effort into your personal life”). 

4: Retire early (“burn out at 40 but don’t care”). 

5: Build your own company and sell it for millions ("I know people who have done that – half of them succeeded").

6: The self-employed lifestyle business, which is what he has. “You pay me £600, I’ll do a Zoom session. A jobbing builder could be that lifestyle business,” he said.

Mr Croft’s own career took him to an engineering degree and then an apprenticeship at Westland Helicopters. There, he went through departments “desperately thinking maybe the next one’s going to float my boat or fly my helicopter”, until he reached the production area of the factory and became fascinated by its processes.

“I wasn’t a very good engineer to be honest because you’ve got to be really good at maths and detail and so I went into management and I was quite a good manager but I didn’t really enjoy it,” says the Parkstone resident. 

“I have no urge for power really and you had to do horrible things to people sometimes, fire people and stuff, and I just thought, ‘I don’t want to spend my life doing this’, so I went for my third career, which was being a university lecturer at Bournemouth University, and I loved it.”

Lecturing was “like finding the thing you are born to do”, he said, and when he was made redundant after four years, he set up on his own.

Today, the number of people he reaches through platforms such as Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, as well as his books and ebooks, far outstrips the number he can reach by other means.

“On a typical day I do a training course for 15 people, maybe over Zoom or maybe face-to-face, but every day I have 20,000 people watching online. The internet is just crazy, isn’t it, but brilliant.”

The schools that reach out to him will get free access to his courses on life mastery; career development; anxiety and stress; and happiness.

But perhaps his biggest enthusiasm is project management – which he defines as “planning something complicated that you’ve never done before”, to a schedule and budget.

“I could put a man on Mars. I could run that project, just using the standard process that I teach people,” he says.

“I’d need a few experts to do the work. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t actually design a spaceship, but what I could do is say ‘Right, designing the spaceship is part of my project, I’ll put that in there and we’ll do this and do this’.

“So I could get the tasks, put them in order, get time estimates, cost estimates, plan it all out and I could come up with a plan in a few hours for putting somebody on Mars, because project management works for everything.”

He is working on a book about the subject and at 62 he has no plans to retire.

"I’ve sort of got this relentless brain. I mean, I don’t know what I would do if I retired totally. But I want to chill a bit more," he said.

"I’m going to do less training but I’m still available for local courses – particularly about project management."

  • Schools interested in free access to some of Mr Croft's courses can visit chriscroft.com