Cayden Herbert, Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries franchisee

Fresh perspectives and motivation from recent resolutions means January is one of the most popular times for people to consider looking for pastures new career-wise. Research carried out this time last year revealed 71% of UK workers will looking into job-hunting in the new year1.

Whether people pursue higher salaries or are looking for more rewarding work, taking advice from those in the know is a great way to climb a rung up the ladder.

Cayden Herbert, one of Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries newest franchisees, talks us through her journey of how she rose up the ranks in just over two years from nursery practitioner to franchisee.

“My mum ran her own nursery at home, so I was always around children – I loved it! I knew straight away this is what I wanted to do. Sometimes I’d even pretend I was sick at school so I could go home and help out with the nursery.


“When I got a little older, I started babysitting too. I try to keep in contact with as many of the kids as I can, and we catch up when I go back to South Africa. One of them is about to turn 18, which is a little crazy as I can remember them not being able to tie their shoelaces!”

Cayden went onto studying education in the foundation phase and early childhood development at the University of Pretoria. After a year working as an au pair in Amsterdam, she returned home due to the pandemic. “Literally my first day back I got a message from Monkey Puzzle about becoming a nursery practitioner at their Highbury setting; as soon as I could I moved to London.”

Working at Monkey Puzzle Highbury for two years, Cayden moved to another location, Melody Lane, in May 2023. “I moved from being a practitioner for one of our toddler rooms into the pre-school room at Melody Lane. Both sites are owned by the Kents – a lovely, supportive family who gave me lots of opportunities to learn and develop my skills. It was such an amazing feeling to come into work every day knowing I was doing what I’d always wanted to do.

“I was at a BBQ back in South Africa and I was chatting with a family friend who asked me what a good investment in the UK would be – I immediately said childcare. He gave me six months to come up with a proposal. Like me, he was blown away by the professionalism and standing of the brand. We submitted a plan to the head office team and in August I got an email back saying they wanted a new franchisee for Stoke Newington – it was such an easy decision to say yes!”

Embarking on her journey from nursery practitioner to franchisee, Cayden has learnt valuable lessons along the way. “I think it’s really important to put yourself first. If you have an opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do, go for it. I loved every minute working at Monkey Puzzle Highbury and Melody Lane, but I’d always wanted to run my own nursery, so when the opportunity at Stoke Newington arose, I was confident in the skills I’d developed to take the step up.”

Another key piece of advice Cayden would give is to use the people around you to help you to achieve your goals. “I want to turn Stoke Newington from good to outstanding when Ofsted’s inspection comes around and thinking more longer-term, I’ve got the ambition to run several nurseries, but I know I can’t do that alone. Using the fantastic support that Monkey Puzzle offer their franchisees is essential. I’m midway through my training now and it is really helping me to transition into becoming a franchisee.

“The Kents, who owned both Highbury and Melody Lane, have also been so supportive of me. I know if I need any advice, I could turn to them and they’d be more than willing to help. Then of course the children keep me inspired too. Seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter shows that this step has been really worthwhile.

“I’ve always wanted to run my own nursery, and I really value the opportunity to realise my dream so quickly! I’m very grateful to Monkey Puzzle for recognising a sense of ambition in me and supporting me to reach my goals. The ultimate aim is to make the nurseries a place where the children and parents are comfortable – a home away from home. Just like the nursery my mum used to run!”

1 Reed, Job market review, Jan 2023