With all the opportunities that the ‘bulk redundancy’ era of the credit crunch presented, I took mine, and decided to see if I couldn't change more than just my job.
The world of work changed for me about six months ago. Despite declaring my willingness to be open to alternatives that I wouldn’t normally have considered, applying for the job I have now still felt like a bit of an ‘out there’ idea. An industry I’d never worked in, in a role that didn’t have the senior 'Head of' title I’d grown used to in the City, with no idea of the salary, and in an area my old toxic boss had told me I knew nothing about.
So of course, I got the job - and have ended up earning more than I ever did in the City. Not having a team to manage, it’s a very different proposition, positioning me as a specialist within a team of experts in a global function, influencing important decisions for one of the world’s biggest companies. I’m actually enjoying being part of a team of peers, rather than running a team and having all the admin and decision-making that goes along with it.
And where my last boss was well out of his depth (but used his Machiavellian magic to disarm everyone, and loved to belittle his staff), my new boss really gets his stuff and empowers all of us to make change happen. Open to new ideas and willing to support his team to the hilt, it has been a breath of fresh air, compared to the politics and undermining mentality I’d grown used to. My new employer even actively encourages equality and is conscious of needing to change the gender imbalances that the City continues to revel in. I have never been expected to be the tea girl at my new employer or take the minutes, just because I’m ‘the girl’.
However, the most important difference for me is the work/life balance I’ve managed to achieve. Despite my inclination to respond to the environment around me, where everyone is working long hours, taking laptops home, Blackberrying like mad and responding to emails all weekend, the time taken out during my sabbatical has paid off.
With time to actually consider what was important to me, I made a decision that work was just a part of my life, and not the primary focus. My home-life and personal relationships had all suffered through the insane working hours and stress and pressure of the City lifestyle. So I made a conscious choice that if work even came close to encroaching on the more important elements of life, it was the work that would be first to change.
It would now be over to me to see whether this was actually possible, or just a naïve idea that wouldn’t survive the reality of the first week back at work.