There are days when I miss being in a corporate environment. Days when I'd love to sit in a big office overlooking a lake, in a tailored dress and some nice heels. Days when I miss laughing my arse off with colleagues about something that happened at an off-site or comparing notes on the best places to shop when we're in the US 'for work'. Days when I even wouldn't mind listening to a load of guff in a meeting between a group of people who are paid more than surgeons just to sell IT.
|This is not the view I ordered....|
When I spoke to a group of students recently I was honest about the fact that if you want to earn good money and grab yourself some opportunities then you could do worse than go and work in a large business. It enabled me to earn the kind of money that I didn't think was possible - forget moaning about paying higher rate tax, it felt like validation that it is possible to break out of what is predicted for young people from low-income families. I never opened a payslip and worried that it wouldn't cover my bills and it never felt entirely normal - being properly skint as a teenager casts a very long shadow (and stopped me from developing an expensive handbag habit).
Working in a corporate taught me a huge amount about business, industry and people, brought me new friendships and even led to the peculiar incident when I shook hands with a Knight in an office block in Birmingham (I know, doesn't mean that much really but it tickles me silly). I was coached by athletes and adventurers who had achieved amazing feats, serenaded by the B-52's (but missed Duran Duran - shame!), got to listen to Bill Clinton talk about philanthropy along with about 49,999 other people and went to the Niagara Falls for 'work'. So why the hell don't I stop frothing about it and go back there?
Well the simple fact is we reached the end of the affair - I had gone as far as I had wanted to go and the business had given me all it was prepared to give. Unless Microsoft was going to provide me with a purple writing lair, a personal sommelier and an in-house band I don't think that anything would have convinced me to stay. And for the focused, committed folks that were (are) still there, having someone gnawing their stilettos off in frustration at not having a purple writing lair, personal sommelier and in-house band is not good for team morale.
At the time I felt like I really had broken free of corporate 'ties' but looking back over the three years it has been since then, I think it was more of a process of being completely honest with myself about what I wanted to achieve, and acknowledging what I had to sacrifice if I stayed (health, family time, sleep) or if I left (money, what that money enables you to do, being part of a team). The three years also provide a little time to mellow down, appreciate what was good and connect the dots between the things I did then and where I find myself now. Do I hope my children go on to do things that make them feel fulfilled and free - absolutely. Will I mind if they find that through working for or with a big company - of course not, I just hope I can help them do it with their eyes wide open.
|No, I don't miss this in the slightest!|
Soundtrack: Those Were The Days - Mary Hopkins