Hello folks! Hope all is well. I have a big job update announcement for everyone… I have recently accepted an offer. That’s right, I’m stepping outside my comfort zone, taking a little leap of faith, and making a job change. A change that Lucy and I both think is good for the family and our evolving priorities.
I should step back a bit and say that things have been a bit crazy here in the month of July and there is a lot to update you all on. Not only the job update, but it has been a wild and turbulent time for the small business with both good and potentially really bad news (an update post forthcoming once we get to the other side of it). Also, in the middle of July we had a week-long vacation back to the middle of America (what…doesn’t everyone vacation there?) for a family wedding (Lucy’s cousin). Lucy of course elaborated on this in her July Swan Life post.
Busy times in the Swan nest for sure, but let’s get back to the job update!
Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone
A job change has been a long time coming. I began thinking about the next step in my career path over a year ago. Around that time is when I first mentioned the possibility of moving to Dublin or London. The longing for the next step has manifest itself from a combination of burnout and evolving priorities as my family grows and we near financial independence.
Burnout is real. It happens to a lot of people and you see it everywhere. When did I start to feel the burnout? I can’t necessarily put my finger on the exact moment. Sometime in 2016 though. The ridiculous merger and acquisition (M&A) transaction I worked on over the 2016 holiday timeframe (which didn’t even go through…) which became the topic of my chasing paper post definitely stoked the burnout flame.
And I think the final realization came if not when I was on paternity leave then the two weeks following. The job can be ruthless at times. I had a great three weeks of paternity leave back in April. Family has and always will be a priority of mine. I didn’t realize this just on paternity leave, but I did gain a greater appreciation for it.
The Monday I returned to the office, a big M&A transaction was announced and it was back to the grindstone for me. No time to even catch up on emails. That’s when I realized the thrill and intrigue of the large M&A transaction has passed. I’ve been there, done that…monotony and apathy has set in.
The Job Update: What’s Next?
Shortly after that experience was the realization that London was off the table. As I mentioned in my Last London Update post in June, the bank reorg situation is a bit over-complicated and not something I want to insert myself into. Perhaps some other time, but London is no longer a near-term option.
It is funny how things work out. Sometimes you look back and can’t help but realize how the stars have aligned. Shortly after acknowledging London is in the rearview mirror another option came calling.
It came via email from a former colleague of my Dad’s from 30 years ago. Actually over 30 years ago because he even mentioned how he held me as a baby…
We were “re-acquainted” a year or two back when we stumbled into each other on a business matter. He works in the same bank in the credit risk monitoring group I mentioned as a potential future job opportunity at the bottom of my London post. A bit foreshadowing you could say.
While he works in the Midwest, a separate team within his broader group was hiring in Charlotte. He was putting a feeler out to see if I had any interest and it came out of the blue to me.
While I wasn’t necessarily considering a transition to this role so soon (which involves a combination of auditing and consulting for the bank’s corporate credit risk practices and works closely with the government regulators) and neither did I expect I was qualified (average credit risk experience among the group is over 25 years!), I figured it couldn’t hurt to take this opportunity to research and learn more.
Potential Areas of Concern
Heading into the information gathering stage, I knew there were a few potential areas of concern. These were eventually somewhat neutralized and my concerns eased.
First and foremost was pay. While the position is very senior, it is a step away from the “line” where I have been actively originating loans and fee events for the bank. In a sense, the new group is a cost center (we technically save the bank money though by improving its risk practices). As such, it is a less demanding and stressful job from a day to day perspective and therefore I was expecting this to come with a significant pay cut.
Without any insight, I would have speculated as much as a 50% pay cut. After the information gathering process I realized it may actually be around 15-20%. After negotiating for the job it ended up being relatively neutral! This was a major success and turning point in actually considering and accepting the job.
The new job would require more travel. I don’t travel much today, maybe 3-5 weeks a year at the most. But the new gig involves going around to business units across the organization regularly.
With part of the driving force behind a new job being evolving priorities as the family grows (i.e. wanting more nights and weekends with the family rather than working), a new job with a lot of travel would defeat the purpose.
Again though, my initial estimate was much higher than in actuality. I initial thought that it would require being in the air around 33% of the time (week long trips every third week). In actuality though, there is a lot more flexibility to the job travel. If I want to travel more I can, but alternatively I can travel less too. There is a degree of remote working that makes travel less of a requirement.
For instance, one of the folks I spoke to within the group has never traveled more than 8 weeks in a year (roughly 15% travel time or less). That isn’t too bad and it certainly isn’t worse than the number of nights and weekends I sacrifice in my current job.
Plus given new technology such as skype and the fact I’ll have my evenings open when traveling, I hopefully can still speak and see the family.
The new job is prone to monotony over time, or so I’ve gathered. To an extent, I think it depends on who you ask though. I personally think the potential monotony of the role would be offset by the experience of traveling and meeting folks throughout the bank and across the numerous lines of business (i.e. outside my currently realm and silo of only healthcare corporate banking).
Either way, my current job where I am experiencing burnout and a degree of monotony already compared to the potential monotony at the new job is like the pot calling the kettle black.
Ongoing Career Path
As I indicated above, the average credit experience among members of the new group is over 25 years! I’m certainly the young buck in the group. But not only does the job require a lot of experience, it is often many folks’ last position in the bank before they retire. Therefore, I have very few examples I can see and point to of folks moving on from this job to other roles within the bank.
This was certainly something I looked into a lot and am comfortable with being able to continue with a natural career path and the ability to transition again in the future if I need / want to.
The experience I gain in the new group is very broad and diverse and, as such, valuable. Moving back to the line or elsewhere within the bank (i.e. London…) is very much a feasible opportunity.
The true reality of the matter is though that I too am nearing the end of my career. Perhaps it is the natural next step in my career progression. While I may not be in my 50s and 60s like some of my peers in the group, I am nearing financial independence and early retirement which helps put this concern to ease.
While so far I have only been talking about neutralizing concerns I had going in, the real kicker to accepting the job is less stress, less spontaneity in the nights and weekends I’ll have to sacrifice (prior role wasn’t immune to canceling weekend plans and family vacations on short notice…), and more time with the family.
More time with the family in part comes from the greater flexibility the new job will offer. As a 10+ year employee of the bank, I get somewhere between 5-6 weeks of paid time off. But I don’t really know for sure as my prior role never really afforded me the flexibility to use it all. That will change going forward.
In combination with my wife getting another week worth of vacation on her 10 year anniversary beginning in 2018 and the kids getting older every year means we will have greater opportunity for family vacations. Woohoo! Lifestyle with the win!
With every job change there is a degree of taking a leap of faith. For instance, I don’t know all the people in the new group or if there is any office politics, etc; I know the job profile well, but not all the ins-and-outs; if or when monotony may set in again driving me to search for another challenge outside my comfort zone; and if the amount of travel turns out to bother me (and / or Lucy and the family) more than I anticipate.
It was a very tough decision for Lucy and me, no doubt about that. However, we have given it a lot of thought. Fortunately we’ve had plenty of time throughout the information gathering and interview process to do so (although a lot of time during such a potential transition can do a number on your psyche too…).
We’ve analyzed the decision every which way. I’ve spoken and met with many folks throughout the bank to get their opinions and considerations. Lucy and I had many long, hard deliberations and I had a million more in my head. Should I stay or should I go, I was going back and forth on that almost daily.
But here we are today and the decision has been made. I’m taking a leap of faith, I’m stepping outside my comfort zone, and I’m making a decision that I think will be better for me and the family while not having to delay our FIRE ambitions.
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan