Helping an experienced IT professional to set up his own business
An experienced IT professional in Hertfordshire
This individual had spent his entire career in the finance sector in London. He had worked his way up from a junior developer role to lead a team of 50 for a global asset management firm. His career had taken him to New York for two years plus time setting up an offshore team in Hannoi.
I'd been commuting to London for nearly 30 years and I hated it. I'd always liked the idea of avoiding the wasted time and stress that comes with it. One day my boss called me into his office to get my ideas for helping to deliver a company objective of cutting headcount costs by 10%. My reply was instant: "What about me?"
My employer has a long-standing relationship with Connor so I was offered their outplacement service. I didn't know much about outplacement, but my wife had a good experience with a three-month service earlier in her career. The Connor executive outplacement service is provided on an 'as long as it takes' basis and as I'd decided to take some months off it was reassuring to know their support wouldn’t stop until I found the right, next opportunity.
The first advice I got was transformational: 'don't tell me about jobs, tell me what makes you happy'. It came from Joe Lawless, one of the Connor executive outplacement consultants who I was paired with. It turned things around and I made the decision to start my own business, allowing me to spend more time at home in Hitchin with my wife and children.
"Joe introduced me to one of his contacts who gave me the opportunity to start my own business and generate revenue – something that would have been much harder without his support."
But achieving your goal is easier said than done. I was aware that you are paid more for how closely your skills and experience fit the job. I’m a senior IT professional with expertise in finance and investment and Hitchin's not exactly awash with those opportunities.
Joe stressed the importance of networking with me. He had spent over 30 years in a number of senior roles at Zurich so our worlds certainly overlapped. He was able to introduce me to a contact of his who had his own specialist finance recruitment consultancy. What’s more, he also lived in Hitchin. I worked for him on a short-term basis helping him with recruitment for IT roles in the asset management and wealth management sectors.
What any new business needs is its first client and revenue. Now that I'd realised these ambitions I set up my own consulting and management company. I've grown my clients and revenue since my business was formally incorporated in late 2016.
I spend approximately half my time doing recruitment and the other half doing IT contract work. Both of these relationships allow me to work from home regularly.
Avoiding a two-hour daily commute has significant lifestyle benefits. I go running and have at least one mountain bike ride each week. I can finish work at 6 or 6.30 and start to cook dinner immediately.
Until you leave London, you don't appreciate just how fast paced it is. I went back recently to meet up with some old colleagues and I realised just how chilled out I'd become since starting my own business. They had all finished their second pint while I was still cradling my first.
Joe was marvellous. He has started his own business so he was a knowledgeable mentor. He was also prophetic. When I'd lost a bit of confidence he told me: "Things will happen that you can’t imagine." This proved to be the case with my next opportunity coming in the shape of one of his network living in the same town as me.
You'll get the most value from an outplacement service if you share your ambitions and emotions honestly with your consultant. Telling them what you really want to achieve and not simply what you think they'd like to hear will give you the best chance of making the right next step. For me, I'm looking forward to growing my business and enjoying how it fits around family life.