Last year I moved from a job that I really enjoyed to one that I really didn’t. You see, there was no real opportunity for promotion where I was, so I moved to a private equity firm. I got the title and salary that I thought was the logical next step for me. I knew it would be a steep learning curve, demanding to start with, but what I didn’t expect was to go into an environment where having a personal life and taking an interest in others was actually frowned upon.
It was awful. I found it a very harsh environment. Hard-nosed. Working practices were very secretive and all the things I believe about how you get the best from people seemed to be ignored. Also, I was expected to work in a wholly solitary way and to work very long hours. It really affected me – how I felt about myself and my own abilities. I could feel all the skills I had built as a manager shrinking away.
I hadn’t been there long when I spotted an email about CABA’s resilience courses. It really struck a chord with me because I knew if I was going to survive this job, and one or two of the people I encountered there, then I was going to need to boost my confidence and learn to put some boundaries in place. Also, I knew that my employer would be reluctant to pay for training, so the fact that it was free was very helpful.
The course was an amazing experience. Being in a room full of people experiencing similar problems can be so uplifting. Not everyone was as unhappy with their working culture as I was, but everyone was working in a very intense environment in one way or another. The trainer was so skilled. He just made sense. He helped you see the big picture, but also broke it down into little things you could do to protect yourself in that kind of environment.
I went back to work and promised myself I would look after my own wellbeing as well as my output. However the pressure of that work place was overwhelming. By the time I had been there eight months I had had enough. I was completely depleted. I decided that because I had some savings, I would resign and take some time to decide how to proceed.
It was at that point I enrolled on the other CABA Wellbeing courses. I’ve done six in total – all free and all delivered to the same high standard I experienced the first time. I have to say that going to those courses was a really transformative experience for me. Everything started to make sense again. I slowly built myself back up.
The courses made me realise that I have strong values and a sense of who I am as a person, but my career seems to have taken me further and further away from my skill-set. For me to feel really fulfilled and to do my best work, I need my work to be consistent with who I am.
I now know that I like to work hard, but I need to be somewhere where being a team player is seen as an asset, not a problem. I want to manage in a hands-on way and support others to do well.
If I hadn’t taken the time to go to the courses, I would have gone into another role without knowing what I really wanted. I could have ended up in another firm where my values would be brushed aside. It can be so easy to find yourself jumping from job to job, not knowing why things don’t feel right. The courses made me realise that I could succeed on my own terms and meet my own goals, but only once I had really thought about what they were.
The business world is small. I wouldn’t have done these courses unless I’d been 100% confident about their confidentiality. It’s such a respectful atmosphere – it’s actually quite special. Many of us are still in touch, encouraging and supporting each other to build the working life that brings out the best in us. I don’t know how to express the impact these courses have had on me. And if, much further down the line I find myself in a similar situation, I won’t hesitate to do them again. It’s all about putting yourself in the centre of your life again. It makes things so much clearer.
How CABA can help
CABA supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please:
*Some personal details of this client have been changed to protect their identity
I was completely depleted. It was only when I attended the resilience courses with CABA that I realised that I can succeed on my own terms and meet my own goals.