Vocational serendipity; when career paths and real-life align

I don’t believe in Destiny. As someone who turns 40 very soon, and brought up on a loop of Star Wars movies served from a VHS video cassette player, I don’t suppose that’s all that uncommon.

han-solo-destinyNow that doesn’t mean I can’t accept coincidences and happy accidents. In fact, I try to make the most of opportunities when they present themselves. When conditions and the timing are right, what would stop you from taking the leap?

In January 2014, Julian, Richard and I co-founded Sea Salt Learning. Our mission: to help global organisations get fit for the Social Age, a topic that Julian has explored and written about extensively before and since.

It was an audacious plan that required a significant number of mountains to be moved. Just the sort of challenge we all longed for. Having set up my first business in 2001, I knew first hand how much time and energy would be needed if the fledgling enterprise was to succeed.

During that first start-up year, and amongst all the excitement, real-life stepped in to do what it does best: my partner was diagnosed with a serious health problem. Well laid plans came to a screeching halt.

I’m immensely happy to confirm 2 years later, that my partner’s health is now back on track and she’s livelier than ever. And for those of you who’ve met Dionne, you’ll know that’s a whole lot of lively!

At the time though, taking the decision to step aside from a company I had co-founded, with people who’d been close to me for many years, was super tough to take. But it was undoubtedly the best thing for all. The promise of Sea Salt Learning’s mission remained strong, and other great people were able to step in at that point, including the highly experienced MD David Jarrett. This team has grown the business into the industry leading Sea Salt Learning you see today.

During my time away from Sea Salt Learning, I joined a highly talented digital team – Base – who are located close to my home in the UK. They are amazing people, enthusiastic community builders and engaging event organisers. I loved helping them fulfil their goal of transforming from a service delivery agency model to an Agile product development team.

I’ve long believed that empowering people over creating excess process wins every time. I’ve found this to be true when delivering large-scale change projects to enterprise organisations, and when developing my own teams and those like Base.

As Project Director at Base, alongside the organisational transformation piece, I also managed the delivery of Base’s largest product – Passenger – which picked up its first paying public transport customers in the summer.

Having achieved these goals, it was time to tackle a new role and challenge elsewhere. I leave behind a self-organising product development team, and a great product. And I proudly continue my relationship with Base as an Advisor to the Board and look forward to seeing them grow from strength to strength.

I first came into contact with Agile in 2001, in the form of Extreme programming (XP). Over the past couple of years, I’ve explored how Agile Principles can be applied outside of software projects and teams, and into the wider organisation.

I’ve spoken publicly about this several times, and had a great deal of engagement on the topic of Agile Principles in Real-Life. Now is clearly the time for organisations to be adopting Agile principles across the board. In fact, being Agile is a foundation piece for organisations looking to be fit for the Social Age.

One of those rare opportune moments in life is happening:

  • personal life, my passion for empowering people, and my professional goals are all in tune
  • it’s the right time for a career change
  • the Social Age demands Agile Organisations

So it is with great pleasure and excitement that I am rejoining the Sea Salt Learning Crew! I will be Leading Agile Transformation with the support of the great people in the Sea Salt Learning crew: I’ll design and develop an Agile Methodology for the Social Age. I’ll also be responsible for engaging with organisations, and delivering Agile transformation programmes and products alongside other offerings from the ever-expanding crew.

I’m both personally and professionally over the moon to be back aboard the Sea Salt Learning fleet. While I’m sure that no mystical energy field controls my destiny, I suspect even Han Solo would have to agree that everything has fallen into place and the conditions are now right; vocational serendipity has been reached.

Anchors away … it’s time to set sail. Will you join me on the journey?

Also published on Medium.

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