Members' Reception 17 Apr:  Guildhall, Members' Dining Room
MMIW #17  Valuing Networks 18 Apr:  Zoom Meeting — Nanette Young
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I Wanna Be Like You-Hoo-Hoo....

Even before I entered the world of work I wanted to retire....

Working as a “Saturday boy”, and in the school holidays as a teenager, convinced me I didn’t have the Protestant work ethic.  Instead, I dreamt of winning The Pools [note to younger readers: a pre-National Lottery gambling game offering million pound prizes and a similarly unlikely chance of success ] and moving to an island in the South Pacific. Or maybe my £2 Premium Bond would be the lucky one in the monthly draw. Anyway,  I never wanted to have a real job at all.

A few years later, however, I had to admit my pipedream was just that; so I took Mr Deloitte’s shilling. And then I slowly came to realise there was a certain nobility in employment, and I derived satisfaction from the fruits my hard labour provided. Occasionally though, I’d still replay that dream: retire by the time I’m 30. Which became 40. And then 50.

By that point I’d left professional services, and had set up Beament Leslie Thomas (BLT), the first recruitment agency for management consultants. Being one’s own boss brought certain financial and lifestyle advantages, but the wish to retire early never left me. I made a succession of three and five year plans, which had to be revised and rolled forward when marriage, children and economic downturns came along. But I swore to myself that I would retire from BLT in my Fifties. And I did – just four days before my 60th birthday.

I knew I didn’t want to move to that island in the South Pacific when the time came. Not least because my kids would have a difficult commute to their North London schools.  And the satisfaction of doing a job well was something I didn’t want to lose. So I started exploring options for life after BLT which would involve part-time or contract work, (to the relief of my wife, who suspected I’d just sink into the sofa with a bottle of shiraz and watch a DVD boxset  every morning.)

In the course of my time at BLT I interviewed many an independent consultant. Often they were members of our own livery company, or the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. I quizzed them on going it alone. Advice ranged from keeping twelve months’ living expenses in an easy access bank account “You never know when the next contract will come in” to choosing the number of days to work  in a year:  100-120 seemed to be the consensus.

So I’ve become like you-hoo-hoo. I’ve hung out my own shingle as an independent consultant, as many of you have too. In my case I’ve become a specialist adviser on careers in management consultancy to business schools and universities in the UK and Europe, helping students discover whether consultancy might be for them. Six months in, and I’m enjoying myself. I get to spend some  working days addressing undergraduates  on the ups and down of life as a consultant;  and other days in  one-to-ones with MBAs choosing which firms to approach. I take work in Manchester and Milan, Exeter and Edinburgh...and turn down opportunities too.  After all, I’ve still got to get through  another three seasons of Breaking Bad. Now where did I leave that corkscrew....         








Freeman Don Leslie