…I just now have to find the right door!
3 weeks ago, after 27 years with the same institution, I walked out of the office for the last time. With nothing ahead of me, no job to go to, no safety net of a redundancy payment, just a spark of an idea. Well, various ideas (some pretty random) and a compulsion not to coast to retirement. I’d completed what I’d set out to do at Edinburgh. It would have felt wrong to stay on. It was time for a change for me, it was time for a change for my team.
Mad or what?
‘But how exciting, Hamish’, my colleagues enthused, struggling to think of something to say, clearly glad it wasn’t them in my position, with an expression somewhere between sympathy and complete incredulity. I’m sure some of them had a wager on that I wouldn’t leave until I reached 67.
It wasn’t impromptu, though. I actually made the decision to move on last August, after a challenging year and much careful thought. Much careful thought.
Most normal people line up the next job before they leave, but I just couldn’t do that. Mainly because I didn’t have any headspace to think of anything other than the day job. Mainly because at that time, I didn’t want to just do the same job somewhere else. I’ve worked with some of the most exciting and driven academics in the world in an amazing institution. I’ve led a stellar team of astonishingly bright, committed and dedicated people. And I left in what is likely to be a record-breaking year for Edinburgh’s research awards. Where would I go next?
So, I’ve been through the random ideas phase (I think), the lifestyle ideas, the ‘sell up and move to Antigua’ option. But it’s hard to turn your back on 19 years of research management and administration. And it’s hard to burn your address book of former colleagues, funders, suppliers and sponsors. And it’s a shame to dig a big hole and bury all my experiences, good and bad, without sharing it with others.
So over the last 3 weeks, rather than sitting in the garden with a Pimms, I’ve been trying to ‘download’ and synthesize what I’ve learned over the years, reflect on what’s worked and, just as importantly, what hasn’t. I’ve been thinking about who’s helped me over the years, and how they’ve done that. And I’ve been reflecting on what I think I can bring to colleagues in other institutions.
If you think I can help you or your institution, I’d love to talk to you. I’ll be at the ARMA Conference in Liverpool next week. Hopefully see you there!