What a difference a year makes!

On August 1st 2016 I was formally put on notice for being at risk of redundancy. It wasn’t a surprise and I wasn’t unhappy about it. A lot of people I knew, and/or worked with, had been made redundant and as a line manager I had been the person on the other end of the process. But for me personally this was a new experience and one that has made me reflect on my career, both at the time and every day since.

For a long time I had thought about becoming a writer, as a passionate lover of the power of books I wanted to share my own literary masterpiece with the world. As it looked like I would be available and have redundancy pay out to fund my studies, I put in a late application to study for the MA in Creative Writing at a local university, to help me turn my dream into a reality. As an avid believer in destiny, I thought this was mine, the timing was just right and everything would all slot into place. I told my soon to be former colleagues of my planned new career and went off on my summer holidays waiting for things to fall into place.

They didn’t.

In September, with the course due to start in a few weeks, I learned I was on the waitlist and would only be considered for a place if other people dropped out. I needed to come up with a Plan B that would financially mean looking for a new job, at least for a while, then I could consider if I wanted to reapply for the same MA course again for the following year’s intake. Although a confident person, I was somewhat daunted by this prospect as I had been “settled” in my previous employment for 11 years…

I started to look at job opportunities and think about what I wanted to do next. A friend of mine, a former colleague, had been very successfully running his own company, Maximise IT, for a while and we had had many conversations over the years about me going to work for him. I decided it was time for us to have a conversation before I changed my LinkedIn status to “Looking for new opportunities”.

We met for lunch and had an initial conversation and I told him about the writing course, which I hadn’t ruled out at that stage. We agreed to continue the conversation with me spending some time with some of the team understanding what they were, and had been, working on and where I could potentially add value. I had a great day with the team, met some very talented people and saw some really cool stuff they had to offer their customers. I came away feeling very enthused about the possibilities of my potential role but with a slight trepidation.

It’s complicated when considering working for a friend, as the lines are blurred, you both know things about each other that you wouldn’t normally know about a potential employer/employee. I was very conscious of that as we discussed how things might work out going forwards and we agreed I would join the company on a fixed term contract basis which gave us a both a get out clause if needed. This also meant I would have the option of reapplying for the MA the following year.

I threw myself into my new role and had a steep learning curve as Maximise IT was working on large, complex project for a new customer, a UK retail bank. I had to learn about the product, the customer and my new colleagues but there was never a dull moment. I have been regularly writing throughout, not my literary masterpiece, but a lot of business documentation and some articles and even a short story that I’ve posted on LinkedIn. It never felt like the wrong decision and earlier this year I agreed I would stay at Maximise IT on a permanent basis.

I have not felt that I missed out by not getting my place on the MA course, although I am sure that would have been a great opportunity too. But my Plan B turned out to be the right path for me, so perhaps there is something to my believing in destiny after all.

So on August 1st 2017 I wanted to write this article to share my journey over the last year, especially with people who may be struggling in their careers, facing a lot of uncertainty and trying to decide which direction to go. Stay positive, things will work out, maybe not in the way you expected but in a way you never expected.