Back in September 1988, I was facing my first day at work as a fresh-faced graduate trainee in the City on the first rung of the corporate ladder. Fast-forward to 2005 and here I am, midway through my first interim contract in my first public sector role, having bid farewell to my role as Acting Head of UK Human Resources at Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) 15 months' ago. In all probability, I have left the world of permanent work for good. Yet it seems such a natural step - I have never been so happy in my professional life.
The first inkling of my move into the interim world came in 1991 when I gave up a good job and headed off with my wife-to-be around the world. I suppose the notion of job security went out of the window at that stage. Over subsequent years I built a career in the private sector by moving fairly regularly for increasingly more challenging and senior roles. I worked for companies that were bought, sold, merged, restructured, in-sourced and outsourced, downsized and right-sized. I set up and closed down HR functions and always seemed to join companies as they embarked on periods of huge organisational change, often for the first time and usually involving significant job losses.
I took the first of two lengthy periods of paternity leave in 1999 when our first daughter was born, returning to the City with SCB in 2000. I had the opportunity to lead the company's UK HR team in April 2003 on an interim basis until the end of that year, when another career break beckoned and I spent a hugely enjoyable 2004 with my wife and children pondering the future.
And that is when it all became clear; my CV was really a portfolio of major commercially-focused change projects. My previous project at SCB had been to lead the HR programme to outsource commercial banking operations to India. This earned me a company award and favourable comment in the Sunday Times and the Financial Times. I came to realise that I was easily bored and enjoyed the cut-and-thrust of change and short-term, meaty, focused projects. If I could combine this with my other area of greatest interest and job satisfaction - leading teams - then this was the natural way forward. The world of professional interim management beckoned. I was attracted by the control I would have over my professional future, choosing jobs that gave me what I really enjoyed, as well as the opportunity to combine work with my family life in equal balance.
I had never