My 12 month sabbatical from the Big Blue to the Lean Green.
‘Can I, should I, could I? What if I do, what if I don’t ? Are you ready … ready steady jump ! That about sums up my last few months of endless conversations with myself, my husband, family, friends, colleagues , complete strangers and any pet that wanted to lend me an ear…. And now I am here at Build Energy 2 weeks in and trying to find my feet.
Rewinding a little – I have worked for the last 10 years for a very large IT organisation as a Client Manager , responsible for sales of IT services within very large UK organisations both home and abroad. Previously I had no knowledge of IT systems and my educational background certainly didn’t point me in that direction. I, like many of us ended up in the job by circumstance and found myself still in it 10 years later.
The job was full time and full on, and becoming increasingly more demanding whilst taking me further away from home and feeling more and more like I was a very small fish in a massive corporate pond. People have come and gone without so much as a goodbye or thank you, some after 35 years of their lives. Do I want to be that person waving goodbye one day?
Big corporates have their advantages – employee benefits, company cars, pension schemes, HR departments, IT help desks and plenty of paid holidays. What would it be like working within a smaller business where you take part in those every day decisions which directly impact on the bottom line form week eot week?
‘Why don’t you join us at Build Energy’ Pete said one night over dinner, after a normal plate spinning day of travelling into London for all day meetings, missing bath time for our 2 daughters whilst trying to work out what my son’s homework actually means . ‘Love to’, I said with the usual wishful, faraway stare. What about the money…..I forgot to think about the money.
We have had this conversation several times since Pete first started out on his own. But when is there a good time to take that leap from Big to small and put all of our eggs in one basket? This time it all started to make sense, and the benefits started to outweigh the negatives. Benefits I could see for my family, the business and my own sanity.
Fast forward 6 months and I have been very lucky – my employer agreed to give me an 12 month sabbatical to go and work for a small business, see what I can do for BE, and what BE can do for me. So here I am 2 weeks in and what have I learned? It’s been a smorgasbord of Code, SAP, air permeability, building regs, BREEAM , planning, water calcs and energy strategising! Crikey.
I can already see things from the other side. Being a CEO, IT Help desk, HR Manager, Technical advisor, Team Leader and Operations Manager is much harder than you know. Small businesses rely so so heavily on cash flow and getting paid on time for their work, especially from the large clients. Life is never the same working for a small business – you are in the middle of it from the word go and decisions are being made and changed all the time. There are no big process manuals to read, and there are no expensive coffees to buy from terrible machines. Having a strong team around you is key to being successful and most of all, every individual matters.
I have an even deeper respect for Pete – the decisions he has had to make on his own and the responsibility he has for other people and their families is overwhelming. I can understand more than ever why he needs time to just think on his own, but how good it must be to have someone to share it with too. It’s going to be a very interesting 12 months both personally and professionally and I intend to embrace it all. I will keep you posted on my regular blog so you can follow my journey – I would appreciate your guidance too!
Time for week 3……