This week I celebrated (if that’s the right word) my first complete month back in Corporate Life. It’s been a tough month – from arriving for a preparatory meeting on the Friday before starting on the Monday to be told that my ‘to be’ boss had been ‘redeployed’ in the company and that Yours Truly was going to be running the team, to marathon 10-hour (yes, ten-hour) meetings, to seeing less of my kids than before when I was away from home most of the week.
As a 10-year management consultant (and 1-year hammock dweller), I’d forgotten just how different Corporate Life is. My diary is out of control (so far I’ve managed to avoid having more than two simultaneous meetings that I’m supposed to be at). My email inbox is full of stuff I really don’t need to know. After 5 conversations with IT I still don’t have access to the (clearly mythical) ‘shared K: drive’. And now we’ve gone Social, so I’m supposed to check my Chatter inbox regularly to keep up to speed on the general ramblings of anyone in the company.
Clearly I’ve still some way to go until I am fully back into Corporate Life, but in some things I’m getting there slowy. In othere I’m determined to resist. Last week at a meeting at topic of discussion was ‘work-life balance’, and how to switch-off at weekends. “I switch off the email on my phone; if my team need me that badly they can phone me”, I said, to various faces round the table whose expressions ranged from “wow, why didn’t I think of that”, to “he’s going nowhere in this company”.
The undisputed work highlight this week was Wednesday. Vodafone Australia has a charitable foundation that works with a range of organisations across Australia. Every employee gets time off each year to help out one of the chosen causes. This wednesday was our extended teams Passion Day, and we spent it with a group of very underpriveledged children. The Mirabel Charity works exclusively with children who have been removed from drug-using parents. The 20 or so children who left their homes in Emu Plains (Way out west from Sydney) at 7am on Wednesday for the 3-hour drive to Manly were just inspirational. Some of them had clear behavioural challenges, but most were the sweetest, loveliest kids you could wish to meet. Kids who were so excited about seeing sharks in the aquarium, playing beech cricket, having a packed lunch, going on a double-decker bus – and that was just the morning. Next time my kids moan because I won’t push them uphill on their scooters on the way back from the playground, I think I’ll tell them about Brodie and his three brothers who had never seen a beach before.
The real highlight for me came after lunch. We went to an indoor climbing centre where, in typical Aussie style, after the briefest of instruction sessions on safety, the kids were let loose with us on their belay lines. Brodie (my charge) chose a tough climb to start with, and didn’t get more than half a dozen hand/foot holds up the wall. A bit deflated, I managed to convince him to try again, on an easier climb. Up he went. Faltered. Steeled himself and then carried on up. The look and whoop of joy at his achievement when he reached the very top was unforgettable. Priceless, as they say in the Mastercard advert.
The undisputed home highlight of this week will come later this evening (it’s now 9.45pm). At some stage in the next couple of hours, Alison and the kids will be returning home after a week away. They’ve been to Tweed Heads, up near Surfers Paradise on the east coast, visiting Great Aunt Barbara and Great Uncle Eddie. By Aussie standards it’s just a hop and a skip, but after 800km in a car with four kids and a streaming cold I’m not expecting much in the way of a romantic reunion!
In many ways it’s been Alison who has taken the brunt of my return into Corporate Life. I leave the home at 7am and get back most days at least 12 hours later. Alison has moved from a life she loved – with us all together in our small flat in the DR, home schooling the kids together each afternoon and really spending loads of time together, to being a single mum again. The doors and frames in our flat are painted Battleship Grey – and I think that’s how this place makes Alison feel at times.
Safe Home, Alison. And if I’m not awake (I’m on my third glass of a very fine Wirra Wirra ‘The Lost Watch’ 2012 Reisling), rest assured I was thinking of you as I nodded off.