29 years ago today, a scared, younger version of me began to work at my company, not knowing what to expect. On 2 January 1990, I showed up for work on a trial basis at a small market research agency, a family firm, as my first non-agency job after university. I worked hard and was given on the job training as I shadowed the owner of the company : he showed me the ropes as I chauffeured him around the UK. I learned from the best, and we both liked what we saw and hence, I have stayed there so long but I really do not feel old enough to have been working anywhere for 29 years.
When he took me on, I was eager to learn and I travelled a lot of the time, covering excessive miles in my company car. I almost did not survive my first month, literally, as I wrote off a company car when I ended upside down in a field on some country lanes close to our rented home. Fortunately I walked away from that accident, unharmed and the partners of the business were very understanding. In fact, I was made one of the partners of the family firm within four years of working there. After 5 years at work, I got married and several of my colleagues came to the wedding and we were granted a three week honeymoon to go to the Florida Keys.
Then 6 years after that, I took maternity leave to have Joshua. So the company had a hard working graduate for 11 years before I was distracted by having Joshua in my life. I returned to work after 7 months off, on a part-time basis, working for just three days a week , while Joshua went to a local childminder, where he grew up with a baby just 6 months older than him. When Joshua went to the local mainstream nursery then primary school, I increased my hours to 4 days a week – just taking Fridays off – but I would finish at 3.30 to pick him up from school. I used to love meeting form school and chatting to his teaching assistant about his day and asking him what he would like for tea, and everyday he would request ” sausages!”.
So both I and Joshua have grown up while working at the same company, so they know us both well. They were understanding and supportive when I took considerable personal leave when Joshua had 10 days in hospital in 2010 for recurrent and uncontrolled epilepsy and again in 2014 when he had brain surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital. I always joke that I could not have managed Joshua’s health needs if I had had a “proper job”. I have lost count of the number of times that I have had call from school to tell me that he was fitting or had been given his rescue medication close to home time, so needed bringing home. On those frightening occasions, I have just left my untidy desk and run out of the door and nobody has ever questioned me about it and for that, I am truly grateful. Just last October, I had one of those calls while I was working in London and I had to get up north by train to meet Joshua in A&E, so it is still happening. As a family firm, it is understood that my family will come first, ahead of anything else.
So today I think about the day that I began this adventure and about how much has changed during those 29 years. Nobody could have predicted the twists and turns that my life has taken and I look forward to seeing what lies around the corner too!