Monday, May 04, 2015

Making the Move (Dan Stone)

Guest Post

Dan and I worked together in my first job. My first big career choice was a decision whether to stay in technical work, or to move to something that allowed me more interaction with people. I moved into a role as a Marketing Actuary. They say an introverted Actuary looks at their own feet. An extroverted Actuary looks at your feet. I claimed both that they know nothing, and that I would look you in the eye. It also meant a choice whether to stay in Cape Town or to move to Joburg. My mother, who was in Joburg with boys scattered elsewhere was pretty delighted when I took the big city option. Dan also moved to Joburg at that time, and though we had played some work cricket together, it was there that we really got to know each other. Career choices are never easy and there are always multiple forces pulling in different directions. Throw in life stages, personal twists and the roll of the dice and you can just do the best you can at each point. Hindsight and foresight seldom match up and life seems to throw up all sorts of new interesting questions along the way. Dan shares, with a lot of candour, some of the things that he had to process through the ups and downs.

Dan and I celebrating his qualification while in Joburg

Making the Move
By Dan Stone

I’ve worked for a few different companies over the years, and in any upcoming interview I know the question is going to come: “You’ve moved around quite a bit, why so many moves?” To an outsider, the changes in job would look quite alarming, but I have a perfectly good reason for each move…
Move 1 after 4 years: A 50% salary increase and a promotion to a senior role in a smaller company vs being a number at a large company. No brainer to me at that point of my life, age and career…

Reason for move = Money and career advancement.

Move 2 after 2 years: A move from JHB to be closer than my daughter who had moved back to CT. Job was a good one, but not the primary driving force.

Reason for move = To be closer to my daughter.

Daddy's Girl

Move 3 after 6 months: The recession brought about an opportunity in repossessed property auctions. Easy money! After a windfall success, I decided that I wanted to pursue this more aggressively. I found an opportunity to work 25 hours a week as a contractor in my profession, which would allow me to attend all the auctions I wanted.

Reason for move = Pursue financial success and flexible working arrangements.

Move 4 after 2 years: The recession passed and the property auctions dwindled in number and discount to market value. The UK contractor market was booming and the money was too good to ignore. After having married young and “missing out” on the UK and Europe experiences I saw all my friends doing, I wanted to avoid those later-life regrets.

Reason for move = Be young again, make lots of money and travel in Europe.

Move 5 after 1 year: I hated my job! But was internally conflicted as I was earning fantastically and generally satisfied with life in the UK. So I looked for new jobs; London centre, Switzerland, South Africa, Mauritius, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Singapore! I drew up a spreadsheet with the pros and cons of each opportunity. I covered money, company, travel, growth opportunities etc. It was quite a complex decision, which involved giving each of the elements a score. Singapore was near the top of each category, and ultimately was also the 1st to make an offer.

Reason for move = I hated my previous job, and I wanted something exciting, senior with career prospects and offered new travel opportunities.

Move 6 after 2 years: I loved my job and Singapore. But, my daughter needed me. She needed me to be a role model in her life. To be there on a daily basis to raise her to become a well-rounded young woman one day. The career vs your daughters’ future prospects and happiness. It was time to be there, to be that positive influence and back to CT to start a family with my now wife Haley. I started my independent consultancy, leveraging off the skills and approach learnt whilst in Singapore, determined to make a success in personal and business life.

Reason for move = To be closer to my daughter, to start a new family and to have a healthy work-life balance.

Move 7 after 1.5 years: Opportunity knocks! The same consultancy in Cape Town wants to hire me. But, something exciting, something big, something that could be that “Big thing” has presented itself. Here we go again, the options are to stay in current consultancy, move to the established consultancy or move to the “big thing”. Each has its pros and cons again. Current = flexible to allow me to spend lots of daily time with Evie, Haley and Kate; financial uncertainty but with ownership upside. Established consultancy = financially stable, stable career prospect, less stressful but long hours. Big thing = financially insecure, CEO of early stage tech, share options, risk of company failure, windfall financial prospects including buyout in future. Secure vs insecure, stable vs prospects, stable vs windfall, sensible vs passionate. The decision was to take the risky but exciting opportunity at the big thing.

Reason for move = I had passion in my eyes when I spoke about it.

I have made decisions on my job over the course of my life that have depended on the situation I was in. In the earlier years, money and career was important; but as time has gone by the personal reasons and passion has driven decisions.
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