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FSM Member Blog - Matt Bishop

Aug 8, 2023 9:41:54 AM

  • Redundancy

    Just before Christmas '22, I found out I was being made redundant. Whilst it wasn't the best experience not being able to leave on my own terms, it somehow turned out to be really good timing. I'd been through quite a lot of change both inside and outside of work and, if I'm honest with myself, I was ready to leave.

    In the years leading up to this moment, I'd moved “back home" to Yorkshire just in time for the first lockdown (so that meant moving into my mum's house for a slightly longer period time than I intended!), I'd bought my first house and met my (very wonderful) partner, and we'd bought a Labrador retriever puppy (note: if you're not a morning person but want to become one - get a puppy).

    After all of this, and before I'd actually been made redundant, I decided I needed some MORE change. My career so far had been in permanent employment, working across healthcare for the majority of that time - which I remain very passionate about to this day.
    I decided I needed to shake things up and revitalise my passion for what I do; to get some experience in other industries, and to try some new environments and organisations. How was I going to do this? By stepping away from permanent employment, and entering the slightly daunting world of interim work!
    So I came up with a plan. Get through December and enjoy the Christmas break, then hand in my notice - giving me three months' financial safety to find an interim assignment. Instead, I got halfway through December, found out I was being made redundant, and had my first experience of gardening leave!

    Gardening Leave

    Gardening leave was a real gift.

    - I could give my partner the support she had given me through a long period of 12 hour days (my partner works in FS Tax in a big 4 firm so had similarly long hours)
     - I had a lot more time to spend with the dog
     - I had some time to really invest in the Full Stack Modeller training programme.

    And I can't overstate how important that last point has been.


    Interim Work

    Switching from being a "permanent" candidate to an "interim" candidate was more of a journey than I anticipated. I had to get used to a real psychological change in thinking.
    In permanent employment, you get a job, hand in your notice and you know where you're going to be in 3 months' time. With interim work, it could not be more different. Not to mention the "garden leave" clock ticking down. I was fortunate enough that I never felt like I needed to worry financially, but I've also been fortunate enough to never be out of employment since I graduated from university, and my impending unemployment was a very odd feeling!

    I got a call from one recruiter saying: "We've got the perfect interim role for you, but they need someone next week." This is where garden leave had its downside.  As I was still employed, I wasn't in a position to take up the role, so I had to miss out on this opportunity.

    Gardening leave ended, and there just didn't seem to be the right opportunity coming up.
    No problem - my partner and I were going away for a week in the Lake District; we'd be trudging up mountains, bagging "Wainrights" with the dog, and sitting in cosy pubs by the fire. What I hadn’t anticipated was taking calls from recruiters halfway up a mountain. But by the end of the holiday I’d lined up three interviews for when I was back. A permanent role, an employed interim role (Company A), and a contract interim role (Company B).

    The permanent role wasn't for me - I was only going to consider this if it was the perfect role in a company I could really see myself with for the next 5 years.

     And so when I had compelling offers on the table from Company A and Company B, I felt I was at a real fork in the road.

    Company A - an interim role had come up as someone they had appointed, and was meant to start next week, had dropped out. It had been mentioned that if all went well, there'd be an opportunity to convert to permanent. I'd met a few members of the senior management team across a couple of informal interviews, and it had all been a very positive experience. The head office was very local to where I lived, but was essentially 100% remote. PE backed, but the industry it was in didn't get my blood pumping.
    Company B - a financial modelling contract role. The team was great - I enjoyed meeting them and got positive vibes on the team culture. This was a contract role, outside IR35, on a day rate. They were in urgent need of modelling support with lots of problems to solve, and they'd already encountered some challenges in getting the right people in.

    So... Company A or Company B?

    Company A had more security. This was the safer, more comfortable option.
    Company B was outside IR35. It was a “proper” contract role, getting in there and solving problems. This felt like the kind of opportunity I had set out to get.

    BUT... Company B was under pressure and needed someone to really hit the ground running, and this would be my first ever contract. I felt confident I could do it, but what if I was missing something that should serve as a red flag? Could there be problems around high expectations on time available vs the reality of delivery? I was incredibly transparent that this would be my first contractor role, where I think my strengths lie, and the kind of approach I take, so they knew what they would be getting.

    This is where Full Stack Modeller comes in again. I first came across Giles and Myles a couple of years ago when they were consulting with me on a system migration that needed a FP&A/Reporting/Forecasting framework alongside it, and solid processes wrapped around it.
    They introduced me to Power Query and I was blown away. I thought I was pretty competent at Excel but it felt like I learned more during that short period than I had in years! It felt (work)-life changing. And it wasn't much longer after this that the guys launched Full Stack Modeller. Once I caught wind of their new training programme, I was in!
    Full Stack gave me two things:
    1) A really, really good example of how to operate when you're consulting. It wasn’t just a bunch of new Excel skills I took away from this - I now had a community of members, many of whom were and are consultants, freelancers, and business owners (alongside lots of very accomplished employees and teams of finance professionals). If there's something I'm not quite sure about, or if there's an interesting financial modelling puzzle to solve, I've got a whole community of FSM'ers to discuss, figure things out with and learn from.
    2) Going through the FSM training material gave me a renewed confidence in what I could do and what I can deliver. It polished and consolidated some old skills, and helped me develop some new approaches and best practices.

    So it had to be Company B.

    I accepted the offer, and what followed was a very busy weekend getting set up - spinning up a limited company, getting contractor insurance sorted, opening a business bank account etc etc.

    It's been a couple of months so far, and I'm really enjoying the assignment; getting stuck in with problem solving, learning about a new industry, and starting to see the impact of the work I'm doing. It's been the change I've needed, and without Full Stack it would have been all too easy to go with the "comfortable" option.


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