French newspaper article about Tim Penn jockeyTim’s original exposure to a new language came during his sporting career as a jockey, when he was based for a year at the world-renowned racing centre of Chantilly, north of Paris. Arriving in France with no French at all Tim developed his in-depth understanding of French (spoken daily at work) during this year-long immersion, which led directly to an Export Sales role in North Africa.

He eventually founded his own Export company, operating worldwide – including assisting several German manufacturers to develop their businesses in France and across Europe. Tim cites this experience as excellent communication practice, especially talking French with clients while simultaneously writing up the order instructions in German.

To add academic rigour to his self-taught language skills, Tim studied French with the Open University (OU), graduating with a Diploma in French, followed by additional French language and culture studies to attain an OU BA (hons) degree. He also qualified as a teacher from the University of Wales (PGCE - Post Compulsory Education & Training) and graduated from Durham University with an MBA.

Tim has always recognised the importance of language and intercultural skills for business success, and was surprised and dismayed to learn that Wales has seen a continuing drop in pupils choosing to study Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) at GCSE.

He was therefore delighted to support "The Business language Champions Scheme" (BLC) becoming a BLC in 2012 an initiative now continued through Global Futures.

In this role Tim has visited schools across Wales sharing his career path with pupils and encouraging them to seriously consider the power of Modern Foreign Communication in their GCSE subject mix. Pupil feedback on Business Language Champions' visits shows that they capture the imagination of pupils, allowing them to realise the importance on MFL in the workplace, and suggesting new opportunities in multilingual communication.

Tim was delighted that his work in schools across Wales was recognised with the Cilt Cymru "Best Newcomer" Award for 2012 and the "Outstanding Individual Commitment" Award 2014.


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Big Ideas Wales

Tim Penn

Role Model Profile
Tim Penn
Signature Leather Limited

In a nutshell:
"Made in Britain" sporting and fashion glove collection

Advanced materials and manufacturing


I left school at sixteen with a passion to be a jockey and I went on to have a ten-year international sporting career as an Amateur jockey.

I decided to return to formal education in my early forties starting with GCSE French and German I went on to also gain 3 A-levels a BA (Hons) from the Open University culminating with a Masters Degree (MBA) from Durham University as well as qualifying as a teacher with a PGCE, AFHEA.


"Don’t be put off if a business idea is not 'fully formed' when starting out.

This is because the marketplace, when presented with a new product or service offering will very quickly contribute towards the "fine tuning" of any new business start with its demands and requirements."

Tim Penn - Signature Leather Limited


I founded Signature Leather Limited in 2005 a company focused on the world-wide distribution of our own "Made in Britain" sporting and fashion glove collection.

Our "claim to fame" and differentiation is that our gloves are all hand cut and finished with tools and skills from the Victorian age which we still use today.