Through my career I have had lots of successes and only 1 real failure. The truth of the matter is though, that I learnt the most about myself through the failure.
I started my work-life at 18 after my A-Levels and went into an Apprenticeship in the commercial department of a fairly small family run business. The company I worked for put me through my higher education part-time at University on a day-release basis. From day 1 I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do and over the next 5 years I progressed quickly through the ranks and became a valuable member of the team. It was a small business at the time but during my ti me there the business grew significantly to turning over around £150m per year.
The opportunity arose where the business wanted to set up a new sector in a different region so when I was asked to head this up, I was ecstatic. I was moved to a new part of the country and started the recruitment process to build a team and constant business development drumming up various opportunities. In my mid-twenties, I was working over 12 hours a day / 7 days a week building a business in a completely new city. The hours and responsibility did not bother me one bit and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Even the realisation that I was significantly under-paid did not put a dampener on what I was doing as the drive and determination to succeed drove me on. Even when I was hiring employees at market rate, that would work for me but earn a better salary than me.
The next few years flew over and before I knew it we were a stand alone sector turning over in excess of £25m per year and being very profitable at it. I had build a great bond with my team and all was looking good. At this point, the group was turning over around £300m per year and at such a large business that grew in such a short period of time things were starting to change. Rather than being able to spend my time focusing on our clients and efficient delivery I found myself wrapped up in processes and in board room meetings.
The changes became more rapid and before I knew it the group had employed a whole new board of directors for the region that I had previously led and pretty much over-night, from heading everything up I found myself reporting to a whole new team that had never worked for the business. The growth continued significantly, however, the efficiency was clearly reducing and it was obvious that we were not as profitable as we once were. Different decisions were being made, difficult contracts were being won and I found myself doing nothing other than reporting to people that had different visions for the future of the business.
Things were not going well so I decided to go back to the head office and make this clear to my old boss. I was surprised to see that there had been similar changes there too and all of my concerns fell on deaf ears. There was obviously a political game at play and people were rallying for positions but I was so naïve to this and had no interest whatsoever. I just wanted everything to be a success.
The next couple of years were absolute hell, however, I knew nothing but this business and I vowed never to give up. I found myself working longer and longer hours, sometimes even working over 20 hours a day trying to gain control of everything, however, any positivity I found was undone by a poor boardroom decision for the next poor contract or account agreement.
It all came to a head extremely quickly in the end. The board previously employed were quickly losing their jobs and new Directors were in and back out again without any notice. I then found that one of my most trusted employees was doing underhand deals! This absolutely broke my heart, and I completely blamed myself for not spotting this, and it effected me hard. I then made, at the time, what seemed to be the biggest mistake of my career....
I asked the employee to leave but although he had let me down, I did not want to ruin his career so we made his departure look like an amicable decision. What a mistake this was, when the reference I wrote for him, was sent into the CEO of the whole group, as the employee made a claim against the business foe wrongful dismissal! This ended up spelling the end of the road for me with this company!
After 10 years of giving absolutely everything, relocating to a new region and working every hour under the sun as well as generating a significant profit for the business I was for the first time since I was a teenager, unemployed!
Even on the day of leaving, I had to go back into the office to ensure all actions were carried out and everything was planned ahead. I knew nothing other than this business and at the time it felt like it was the end of the world, however, little did I know, that it would be the best thing that could have ever happen to me for both my career and my health!