What Have You Done?

An honest career/experience history in time order. No airbrushing.

V = Volunteer and P = Paid and E = Own business

V – Growing up I volunteered at the Abbotford Airshow when it was a smaller – but still large – affair. My father was in the Flying Club and they organised all the volunteers. I was a general gopher and dogsbody that was keen to have anything to do with aeroplanes.

P – Babysitting and Lawnmowing – rural BC

V – Off-siding on a Bell 206 single helicopter base in Dease Lake, Northern British Columbia. My father was the pilot/engineer for Frontier Helicopters.

P – Sold Pick-up truck canopies and after-market accessories at Rover Recreation

P – sprayed glyphosate on unwanted new-growth on deforested and replanted hills that were too steep or remote for helicopter access. Very hard physical work.

P – Worked in a ski-rental franchise at Lake Louise in BC. Entailed skiing as much as possible in between shifts at the store. From Amerian tourists to the exiled Sri Lankan Royal family. We fitted them all.

P – Fitted Ski-Boots in central Sydney, Australia. Heart of the financial sector as skiing is not an ‘everyman’ sport in Australia like it is in Canada.

Hitchhiked across Australia from Sydney to Perth in 3.5 days. 

P worked 1000km from perth (Laverton) for a gold mining company called Ashton Gold. I was a geologists assistant and an off-sider on an RC Drilling rig further out in the bush.

P – Tail end of the UK season at Snow and Rock on High Street Ken.

P – Shortest ever job was selling advertising for a v. a dodgy publication in Covent Garden. I went out to get a sandwich on day 2 and never came back. Not into cheating people.

P – selling photocopiers and fax machines. My patch was the graveyard of Mayfair. You walked around ‘prospecting’ which meant gaining access to offices, cadging a compliment slip from reception and trying to find out who to ask for regarding purchase. You went back to the office with your haul and set about telephoning them, trying to speak to the right individual, ascertain their needs and sell them a photocopier. Hard work, no fun and a great learning experience (upon adequate time passing to reflect).

P – pharmaceutical sales representative for Servier Labs. Possibly the strangest and most thorough vetting. My main referee was met by a fellow who had flown over from France and interviewed him about me over a nice lunch that he bought. Meanwhile, back in the UK, the hiring manager was a firm-believer in handwriting analysis. The rest of my skills were for ought as long as I passed vetting and analysis!

P – pharmaceutical rep for Baker Norton Ltd. BN was a company created by a team of ex-Searle employees to capitalise on the (then) new Fundholding scheme for GPs. They were keen on good salespeople over all else. We were well remunerated, had nice cars and the company was a success.

Interestingly, we had some of the first laptops. I went online a lot for my own fun back then (early 90’s) and I saw the commercial potential for the Internet. The MD allowed me to change roles and spearhead the company’s first steps onto the web.

V – around this time I lived in Windsor, had read an ad in the Tube for Special Constables, and it struck me that I could exorcise my desire for non-work challenges whilst doing something worthwhile by being part of the police. I joined Thames Valley police for the first time as a Special. 

E – d.web was a full service Internet company at the beginning of the dot-com boom. I had a contract with BT to provide 10 page websites for their business customers. Dial-up was it those days.

P – Cap Gemini Life Sciences team. One of the worst career decisions I have made as it was out of desperation (long story). 6 months of wasted time. The less said the better. I left before I was fired. 

P – Druid – a mid-tier Siebel consultancy that had just bought a Scottish firm owned by a chap who was to prove to be a very influential person on me, George Knox.

P – Siebel Systems – Lecturing and consulting at the peak of the dotcom bubble. A truly bizarre, money isn’t real, time in business. I travelled to 35 countries for clients and specialised in the alignment and installation of complex sales process methodologies.

E – Siebel fired us all in one hit and re-employed me as an independent contractor on USD 1500 per day. The unreal money madness continued. I also did private consulting and my dinner part story is when I left Central Moscow in a hurry to get home in time for the birth of my daughter. It was touch and go but I made it.

V –  started as a student and worked my way to becoming an Observer (Instructor) for the largest IAM (Institute of Advanced motorists) motorcycling club in the UK. TVAM. I rode a lot, I trained a fair few people and for a while was a very dialled in rider. I have sold all my bikes now.

P – Interim 6 month cover at Microsoft.  What a let down. A once dynamic and magical place to work (in the 1980s I guess) that blew me away with the level of ‘corporateness’. 

E – Only Organic was an organic veg box scheme that I started, grew and sold to Abel& Cole. Fantastically hard work – the least I have ever made for the hardest I have ever worked – and incredibly educational and fun. I didn’t make a fortune but I washed my face with the sale. Lehman Brothers collapsed 6 weeks later so I dodged a bullet there.

V – stay at home dad with the odd bit of consulting. I assumed that there would be a queue around the corner of people desperate to employ me after I sold the business. How wrong I was. The world had collapsed (the financial crash) and no one was hiring. Let alone an entrepreneur that they thought may just be using them to build reserves to launch another business. My then wife was very well remunerated and instead of me trying to get odd bits of work I focused on raising our daughter. Anyone who questions the apparent ‘lack of effort’ required to be a parent has no idea.

P – After having a horrendous bicycle crash that saw me being bolted back together like the bionic man I started at a publishing intermediary. It was a dumb thing on both sides. I had been offered the well remunerated job before the accident. I was out of my head on painkillers after it. It didn’t matter as their entire worldwide operations went bust very shortly afterwards. This was a textbook case of not responding to change (the move to digital) fast enough. Bang, a 112y old company was gone overnight.

EDUCATION – I dipped out of being a grown-up and have spent the last 6y doing a BA History (Hons) 2:1 and an MSc Politics with research Methods (Merit). 

P/V – I do some tutoring now and am particularly proud that in 6 weeks I helped a failing A-level politics student move from a weak E to a strong C. I also write articles and contribute to the Barts MS blog and shift.ms 

I am tired just writing this. Time for a cup of tea…

One thought on “What Have You Done?

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