Thursday, 29 December 2016

Filling hollows

Day 30 (Friday 30th December 2016)

30 and 35 times the mass of the sun were the sizes of the two 
black holes that were observed merging in June 2016 (and making a 
feeble bird-like cheap when doing so, when the gravitational waves produced, 
as they spiralled ever closer and then combined, were converted into sound waves). 
This momentous discovery demonstrates Einstein's prediction that spacetime can ripple 
and verifies astrophysicists' calculations for how black holes can fuse). 
This has been hailed by many scientists as the greatest scientific finding of 2016.
I love the lull before the New Year - a chance to reflect and plan, even when you have to be back at work during the few days between festivities. Today's post by Mark Hendy might help you to reconsider your life and whether you have the right focus and priorities. Mark is an inspirational and proud proud Welshman. He lives in south east Wales in an area that for centuries has been famous for iron and coal. Mark is a respected HR professional - he started as in HR at Tata Steel before taking on various roles in a range of companies and industries, predominantly in the UK, but with stints in North America. He cares about HR and its role in enhancing individuals and organisations, which inspired him to found and now chair the South Wales HR Forum.

When not focussing on HR, leadership and change management (he is a strong advocate of Authentic Leadership and the value of Evidence-based HR/Evidence-based management), he can be found being a great dad to young Oscar, cheering on or ranting about Swansea FC, boxing or playing music. He is an accomplished guitar player and member of a band. He is quick witted (can be quite sharp) and a writes an interesting, HR focused blog - Hendys HR Blog, as well as being active on Twitter (his handle is @markSWHRF). I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.


Filling hollows 

I’ve always anticipated a career being some sort of progressive, transcending elevation following the traditional routes, taking the anticipated hits of responsibility, occasional discomfort and situational stress with the obvious benefits of job satisfaction, excitement and salary enhancement. That’s how the last 15 years in HR has been for me and I’m extremely grateful and dare I say it, proud of what I’ve achieved.

I reflected this year on where I was at. Career-wise it was at ‘Head of HR’ level, managing a team of HR Managers, delivering strategic work and, I felt, making a real difference. That’s the ‘Heights’ elements of this. I felt I was “almost there” career-wise for where I aspired to be, but it was coming at a price and I didn’t like it. Things just didn’t feel right, and I guess that's the ‘hollow’. 

My role at the time, along with feedback from a CIPD membership upgrade had made me realise that I had some gaps, particularly in OD where I needed to strengthen my experience. I also missed the heavy industry environments that I had spent most of my career working in, more so than I thought I would when I stepped out of that world. I was no longer convinced that I could plug those professional gaps that I needed to in my role at the time, despite working for a great organisation with fantastic people. It was a huge and extremely difficult personal decision but I needed to move on, step out of that career path that had served me well for the last 15 years and find a role that was going to help me plug those gaps. And that new role, for the first time in my career, was not going to be an “upwards move” as I often heard people say in the corporate world.

But what was more important than this, was I wanted to be home more. My previous role had me all around the country with regular overnight stays in soulless hotels, with minimal interaction with anybody. Meanwhile at home, was my wife and my son. A 2 year old, growing up so quickly, often enquiring where I was (thank goodness for FaceTime by the way). When I wasn’t away from home, I worked in the capital, often getting home 30-60 minutes before my son’s bed time. 

When people asked me how old my son was, they often followed up with “make the most of those early years, they go so quickly, the children grow up so fast.” So far that seems factually (if not literally) correct. I knew things had to change. 

And so fast forward 6 months. I’ve found the job I needed. I’ve started to plug those gaps and It’s filling that hollow. 

I no longer work in the city and I get to spend a lot more time with my family (i’m not bragging, but I’m home by 2pm on a Friday!). 

A great reason to get home by 2.00pm
I needed the change, it was made possible, and I feel infinitely better because of it, despite my initial reservations about how it might affect my career progression. Professionally and personally, sometimes you just have to listen to your heart. The heights can wait.  


  1. Well played Mark. When I suddenly got angina closely followed by a triple cardiac bypass, followed by redundancy, I listened. Took the money (and my pensions) and am a much happier man than I was before. Funny how we keep pushing through 'cos that's what we think we have to do. But I can only say that after some deep reflection. Good on you for seeing it and taking action in time!

  2. It took a family tipping point for me to start on my current career course