So, definitely since late 2017, and into 2018, I felt a sense of ‘now what?’. I had been in the same role for long enough to have achieved a lot of what I’d hoped to, and to also be a little battle weary from the constant restructures and cost cutting/efficiency measures. I also saw both a mentor and a much loved manager be treated poorly by the company – so overall, I become just a little bit totally over work.
In early 2018, I took a month of leave at half pay. I did a week screen free (being less than 30mins screen per day). I did jigsaw puzzles and listened to podcasts. I met a recruiter or two. When I returned to work, I was in the same job in a different location with a different team. It was management’s attempt to help me through my malaise. But it was the same stuff in a different place. Same larger organisational challenges, slightly different actors and slightly shifted perspectives. I wasn’t growing, and I had a healthy sense of hatred for the constant changes in the company. A recruiter rang and suggested a role that might suit – it sounded horrendously boring, but I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I took that role – a 12 month contract. I tried to see if my original employer would give me a 12 month career break. They would not. I was transparent about why I was asking – I saw it as a strategic advantage – and it would have been. No one was getting career breaks then – save for a senior executive who sailed around Europe and threatened resignation otherwise and that clearly worried them?!
The contract was cut short to nine months. I was told the day before my birthday. The day before the removalists were booked to move me from rent free living with my parents, and back to my apartment. Either of these factors could have been devastating – instead I tried to maintain a professionalism and gravitas when I was told. Inside, I was excited. Thankful. The job had shown me a different bunch of things my knowledge and skills could excel at, but I had also been frustrated by the intensity of editing on everything I produced, the layers of management in every small thing. The lack of direction provided to me, but also to the state from the government. I served out my week and left with a spring in my step.
That was more than six months ago. Initially, I arranged coffee dates with professional contacts. I applied for a job I was semi head hunted for, and then ultimately didn’t perform well enough at interview (and… didn’t mind. I agreed with their feedback, and whilst I could have done a better job, my lack of interest in doing a better job was telling to me) I got sick. I got better. I went to Europe. I came home, and got sick again. I dropped off on professional coffee catch ups – my heart wasn’t in it. The electricity industry is shrinking – the funding is being reduced. Customers are paying more and complaining loudly. Politicians continue to talk about electricity but no one really heed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report, the key take away for me was: RETAILERS ARE TAKING A BIGGER CUT THAN EVER. Of course they are – they are the bells and whistles. The marketing juggernauts. The cashed up end of town that lobbies governments, so despite the ACCC’s report, there’s no way governments can claw back to a past where retail pricing was strongly regulated, or where retailers were government owned. That ship has sailed. Capitalism and free market economies haven’t worked for this natural monopoly.
If this all sounds like a rank – I’m not sorry. However, I note that this vitriol is part of why I don’t want to continue in my industry. And ultimately, the bulk of my career skills aren’t ‘electricity’ stuff, but management of projects and staff, budgets, analysing data, drafting ministerial briefs and correspondence to constituents. I just no longer want to be in an environment which is fundamentally falling to bits, and I’m smart enough to know I’m not the mosquito (the one small thing) to change this world. Instead of getting into the arena, I’m finding a new arena.
It’s been hard to work out what next. I went on a date on a Thursday night – a first date, quite unplanned. Dinner at a nearby pub. The date was not a keeper, but his advice was: go where the energy flows. Don’t worry about salary, don’t worry about others think, do what you want. And what I want: the death industry. Well funerals.
So, despite having a truck load of ‘engineering’ adjacent skills, and floristry skills, I took to applying for roles in funeral companies. The date was Thursday. Friday morning I did some quick applications. Friday afternoon a recruiter for one of the jobs called. And that recruiter is still calling…
I feel this is already a long read, so I will perhaps post another day on the ‘why’ of this industry.