Crikey - I woke up a couple of weeks back to the news that Glaxo SmithKline are buying up Novartis’ consumer health division and was really annoyed that the first phrase that entered my head was ‘what goes around, comes around’. I really hate the phrase, not for the words but for what tends to go with them. For example, the sense that we have no control over our destiny and that, however we strive for change, our environment will always drag us back to what used to be.
The reason I was thinking this was that I was pausing to consider what it will be like to be stopping 36 years of being a ‘full time PAYE junky’. It might be a bit late now to be thinking of it as it all ends on March 31st but I was recalling my first job with Beechams as a research chemist. Beechams was known for its presence in consumer health (at one time a huge proportion of TV advertising space was on Beecham products – both its own and those it licensed in). However, one vision was that this was a drain on the future capacity for research and innovation and it got rid of the lot. Now, it’s taking it back again. Even though the word ‘Beecham’ does not feature in the current brand of Glaxo SmithKline I like to think the beating heart of Beechams Pharma still exists.
That same rear view perspective has me looking back on years in chemistry research, academia, professional services and, most recently, NETSCC. My backward view happily contains a huge number of positive experiences with a sprinkling of challenges that are always made more positive by recognising them as formative learning experiences! There is more known about a tiny part of the chemistry spectrum as a result of my work; there are many grads and postgrads whose personal journey I contributed a little towards; and there are teams within the University and at NETSCC who think and do things differently as a result of my being involved in them. A collection of small influences that collectively create a picture that I am pleased to look back on.
Now, looking forward, I start out on a new journey with real pleasure as it offers new and exciting challenges, all drawing on my back catalogue of experience. My company, Alpamayo Coaching Ltd, will get my full attention rather than bubbling along in the background (Alpamayo is a mountain in the Peruvian Andes in case you were wondering, one of the most amazing sights I have seen – the moment when it first came into view as we crested a col a mile or two away is as clear today as it was 20 years ago!). I look forward to working with individuals and collectives under the rather unscientific headings of ‘making things happen’ and ‘supporting individuals and teams to think differently’. If you insist on a more robust classification of my approach it will be selected from a toolkit that includes coaching, facilitation, training as well as project and change management. The exciting first step in all of these relationships is always asking the right questions to find out what people really want, and then listening very carefully to the answers!
While this is going to involve all sorts of new relationships I am equally energised by how this work will keep me connected, maybe even reconnect me, with people and organisations whose work I admire and respect. You might say that this sounds a little like ‘what goes around, comes around’! I prefer to think of it as returning to themes and values that are important to me and the people who I work with most effectively. It is also a conscious choice to return to those same themes and values rather than waiting for circumstances apparently making them relevant again.
I hope that anyone interested in keeping in touch will do so and to help with this my contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org; 07780 960777. You can find out more about my approach at www.alpamayocoaching.com and are very welcome to spread the word as you see fit.
Thanks so much for your company throughout my 2.5 years at NETSCC,, 3 years in charge of Residences, 17 years in Chemistry at the University of Southampton and 13 years as a medicinal chemistry at Beecham and SmithKline Beecham. I am leave my long period of full time employment much more enriched and informed, much wiser and, can't get away from it, a little older!