Today (Tuesday 4th May 2021) is remarkably similar to the preceding 3,653 days of my life in many respects.
The sun will rise, the world will turn, the sun will set, my day will see challenge, frustration, sheer joy, satisfaction, anxiety and many more emotions, but this morning I’m affording myself the luxury of taking a short pause and reflecting.
Ten years ago to the day, I checked in on the ground floor of City Tower as a new starter for Bruntwood. City Tower was a building that I’d arrived in four months earlier having left my home town of York, a steady job, the familiar surroundings of family and friends, to work for a short and uncomfortable period at a Manchester based server hosting company.
When I reflect back on my first few months in Manchester, I’m reminded of the traumatic exit from the hosting company. I think about the call I made to my Dad to tell him it hadn’t worked out as I walked down Sackville Street and how I felt a mixture of failure and relief.
Weeks later I arrived on the 24th floor of City Tower – the Bruntwood floor. I had a point to prove, a seemingly unlimited amount of energy and the kind of naivety that comes with youth – adamant that I knew more than I actually did.
New to property, I had no understanding of the politics, the culture and the existing power structures within the industry in each of the regional cities we operated in, but the privilege of sitting in the open plan Bruntwood office, listening to conversations between colleagues gave me an incredible opportunity to absorb knowledge and information from some of the industry’s leading figures.
For me, when we talk about “the office” I think about that, and how short my career at Bruntwood could have been without the exposure that being in that office environment gave me.
From that point onwards, I had opportunities to develop my career as the business continued to grow and evolve. There have been some incredible highlights over the last ten years.
I’ve worked in our fantastic regional cities across the country; my time working in Liverpool was a real highlight – I love the city, the people, the history and the buildings; but not so much the M62 and Edge Lane!
I’ve had a seat at the table with some of the most influential and powerful people in the country. MPs, Mayors and CEOs – I promise that’s more exciting than it sounds. I’ve worked with some of the world’s most exciting companies and I’ve seen my colleagues, my friends and my peers move on to bigger and better challenges, some of them outside of Bruntwood.
Being part of Bruntwood’s tenacious and successful fight for survival through the recession and subsequent recovery was an incredible learning curve. Supporting the refinance of the business, landing pre-lets at Circle Square in the middle of the pandemic, joining the Bruntwood SciTech team and opening the London Stock Exchange with Northcoders, the Chamber of Commerce and Andy Burnham have all been huge moments in my career to date.
There have been some difficult times too. Most notably one of the best things about Bruntwood is the people you get to work with; but working with people you like on a personal basis can be a double edged sword. When a personal relationship breaks down outside of work, it becomes undoubtedly more difficult to navigate that relationship in a professional setting. This is a difficult balance that I’ve not always managed to get right so far.
I’ve been guilty of throwing myself into work to distract from the challenges in my personal life. I wish I’d learnt earlier that emotional, mental and physical wellbeing are the cornerstones from which to build the rest of your life, including your career. I’ll never be able to communicate how much I value the support of my colleagues in guiding me through those difficult times – I owe them so much of what my life is today.
I’ve also rubbed a few people up the wrong way and if I’m truly honest with myself, with the benefit of age and experience, I regret almost all of those occasions ~ almost all.
Ultimately, I’m just incredibly grateful for every experience, good and bad that I’ve been presented with along the journey of the past ten years. I’m so lucky to have a job that I absolutely love. Monday is the best day of my week because it’s a fresh start to make a positive impact on the world that we all live in.
I walk around our cities with an immense sense of pride that I have played even the smallest part in shaping a place that is great to live in, with good jobs, a thriving social scene, a panoply of artistic and theatrical excellence and a sustainable and inclusive future, in which I hope to continue to be a part.
Words by Joseph Venables.