What do you want to be when you grow up?

Everyone would ask… My response was always, “I really want to work in Sport”. After going to University to study an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Sport, I was convinced it was the career path I’d take.

That was until I started work as a Project Administrator on a construction site whilst I was hunting for the ‘dream job’. My passion throughout school, college and University has always been sport and I knew I didn’t want to stay in a Project Administrator role for long. 12 months down the line and I was desperate for something more challenging.

That’s when I was selected to join the new Business Improvement team. I had never envisioned myself working in this area and am so surprised by how much I’m enjoying it.  Each day presents itself with a new challenge and we work together to come up with the simplest and most common sense solutions. When the idea was put into my head, I couldn’t wait to join the team and be a full-time employee of Kan Do Ventures.

The passion and drive within the team is something I admire and wanted to be a part of. With Kan Do Ventures being a young, new company, it could be seen as taking a risk but I don’t see it that way. The small team I work with is so full of individual experiences in various different disciplines and I know I can learn so much!

Having officially been with the company since December 2016 – I already can’t believe the amount of support I’m receiving to further my knowledge and experience. If there’s any way I want to improve myself, Kan Do Ventures are right there behind me. Supporting me to become a member of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is just one of the ways Kan Do Ventures are helping me to excel in my role.

I’ve never been a confident person but can already see a huge difference in myself. I have been asked to give various presentations to our client and although I manage to work myself up with nerves beforehand every time, I know I’m now capable of presenting and will only get better. Working with like-minded people with the same drive and passion for success is what I feel makes our team gel.

No task or challenge seems too big for our ‘Kan Do’ attitude and we’ll always get the job done – but obviously having fun at the same time! You may think you’ve decided on your dream job, but never turn away the potential opportunities you’re presented with. I know I’m glad I kept my options open. Come on, I mean, who wouldn’t want to work for a shortlisted ‘Subcontractor of the Year’?

Round Peg, Square Hole?

“What a brave decision”, they said. “Have you really thought this through?”. “But you’re really good at your job!” and “you’ll never find anything better than this”. All code for she must have really lost the plot this time….

After joining a brilliant company as a new graduate, and building a (pretty good if I say so myself!) career in a big corporation with the benefits of stability, opportunity and support from some incredible people, after 14 years, I had had enough. Round peg, square hole perhaps? (Early!) mid-life crisis maybe? There must be more to life than constantly struggling to be the perfect employee and the perfect wife and mother, but failing at everything. Feeling guilty for working when I could have been with the family, and feeling guilty for not working all hours when I tried to be fully present at home.

Imposter syndrome 1 – employee / wife / mother 0.

The only option I could see at the time, was to walk away. And to the horror of many – with no job to go to. What will you do? You’ll be so bored! You’ll be back in no time. Why would you want to go into the big scary world? All with the same message…..there isn’t life outside of the big organisation that is the only employer you have known.

But I left, and to my surprise, there was life-after-career. Time to enjoy the little things. Time with the children, who on the first morning I took them to school ran off without so much as a backward glance. What have I done? I left work to be around for the children, and Day One of unemployment they don’t need me!

Time to bake (although I soon realised I needed my work colleagues to eat it all). Zumba. Creativity (which wasn’t really called for in my career as an engineer). Making a real home, rather than just a space to exist. A ‘gap’ year to focus on being me again, being fully present for our children, and time to work out what I might do with my life.

And then came a huge shock……three months in, I really wanted, and needed, to work. Chosen unemployment wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Tidy house, home cooked food, happier family, but a lack of purpose. And I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of needing to contribute to something bigger than me, to change the world for the better in some way.

So a year after leaving the career I had worked so hard for, which was supposedly what I had spent my whole life working towards (according to conventional wisdom), I’m not where I thought I would be and there are a few surprises….

I have been working with my husband in the same office for a full nine months and we are both still alive and married. No idea how that has happened. We actually bring out the best in each other at work (at least that’s what I think….maybe he doesn’t…..!).

Kan Do Ventures feels like our third baby which is still very little, but growing fast and trying to run before it can walk (much like the other two!). Building a business together doesn’t feel like hard work (despite us both working really hard) – it’s a challenge to embrace and learn from.

So many people believe in me, us and Kan Do Ventures, and are incredibly generous with their time, advice, help and support, which has enabled me to find the inner confidence I thought I’d lost, and believe that anything is possible.

Escaping the familiar, embracing the unknown and being open to the endless opportunities that are out there has been the scariest, most overwhelming and unexpected adventure so far, but also the one that has made me feel like me again. Which is a great place to be.