I don't normally write these blogs on the weekend, largely because the majority of the users who read my blogs, do so through my LinkedIn posts and as a 'professional' social network, that tends to be more active during the working week, but this week I've decided to make an exception, to celebrate a milestone!
Two years ago today I walked (or, more accurately, was escorted - but that's a story for another day!) out of the main door to Gogarburn in Edinburgh, to end my almost fifteen years working for RBS, which by then had rebranded to Natwest. It was a beautiful sunny day, not a million miles from the weather that we've been having over the last couple of weeks, and I left along with my three colleagues, Philip, Mel and Liz, I had taken voluntary redundancy as a result of a restructure in our department.
In the months leading up to leaving (I'd signed my paperwork to accept VR in mid-May so I'd had about a three and a half month runway to prepare for this exit) I spent a lot of time building my network external to the bank and gathering as much information as possible on how others approached running similar companies; How do you get your work? How do you price it? What tools or resources do you use to help you run your business? I learned more in those early months than I had done in probably the previous five years and it was an exhilarating time!
It was also, however, a nerve-wracking time. I never doubted my ability to do the work once I was in front of the clients; coaching, facilitation, consultation, design and delivery of training, MCing events and keynote speaking were things which I'd done for years and built a strong reputation for, but actually going out and getting work was something I'd never had to do and so part of me wondered whether I'd manage and what this work might look like.
Fast forward two years and I've had some remarkable opportunities! Thanks to former colleagues, friends and lots of new people I've met along the way, I've been lucky enough to work with over fifty different organisations, from large multinational banks, to tiny companies and individuals, in the UK, across Europe, the USA, the Far East, the Middle East and Australasia. After spending almost a decade and a half in banking and never making a trip further than Dublin, I've since been blessed to visit New York, Barcelona, Copenhagen and even Melbourne to work and hope to have many more international adventures in the future. I've worked with clients in finance, healthcare, education, technology, media and marketing, recruitment, education technology, sport, retail and other sectors and the variety makes every day exciting. I've never had a day since I set out on my own where I've looked at my diary with anything other than a sense of joy anticipation and that's not something that could always have been said about my years in the corporate world.
I've also found that having my own business has allowed me to really invest in my own development; picking up qualifications and experience in team coaching and pursuing further developing in exec coaching, facilitation and even broader HR topics to keep with my commitment to finish each calendar year more skilled, capable and credible than I started it.
I've been lucky enough too, to have a company which I can use to support a number of sports teams and athletes through sponsorship; the EK Pirates U19 American Football team, the GB Mens, GB Womens, GB U17 flag and GB U19 American Football teams and players, the Scottish Junior Darts Corporation and my hometown football club of St Laurence have all been beneficiaries and it's lovely to know that as well as keeping the lights on and making sure that Mrs Davies and Miss Davies have comfortable and happy lives, I'm also able to help others in a way that I wasn't able to do when I worked for a big company. It gives me a deep sense of purpose and wellbeing, being in service to others.
Doing pro bono work with three charities, as well as a number of individuals who wouldn't otherwise have access to the kinds of services I offer is another way in which I have been able to give back and I hope to continue to find ways in which to make a difference and leave people and businesses better than I find them.
There are lots of very interesting and exciting adventures on the horizon and I'm excited for what the next two years bring, but I wanted to take this opportunity, not only to reflect on the journey these past 24 months, but to thank everyone who has helped and supported me along the way. It doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated and I hope that if I haven't done so already, that I get the chance to repay this support in kind. Here's to the next two years and I'm off to have a cuppa to celebrate!