New job and new start

I have some news… I have a new job!

I’ve been interviewing with Aspirant, a global management consultancy, since December, and I found out in January that I had the job in their European operation. I’ll still be working in marketing, but this time there won’t necessarily be a medical aspect to it. I’ve been working my notice period since then, and last Friday was my last day at Dr Morton’s.

My colleagues gave me the sweetest card and some incredibly thoughtful parting gifts: a bottle of Sekt, a little bottle of prosecco that I said I liked the look of months ago, and an anthology of Jane Austen novels (they know me too well!)

It made me even sadder to leave them. I’m excited about the prospect of working with Aspirant, and I know that career-wise, this is the right move for me, as I had reached a plateau in my old position, and wasn’t really progressing, but I did feel a little heartbroken to leave behind such colleagues. For all that I worked ‘in a team’ as a doctor, I never felt true team spirit until I met them. Sure, I worked with great people with whom I got on well, and it was always very diverse and multidisciplinary, but I think it is a very rare thing to work with a bunch of highly intelligent people, with vastly different skill sets and backgrounds, who complement each other perfectly, bring out the best in each other, encourage creative thinking within one another, support each other and build strong friendships outside work. I don’t think it’s just a medical thing – it’s difficult to have such a serendipitous combination of factors in any industry, I believe. I feel truly lucky and humbled to have tasted it, even for  short time. They made work fun.

I must also thank my bosses as well. I’ll never forget that they gave me – a lost and very confused doctor – a chance to do something else with her life. This job gave me the space to learn and grow, and figure out what I like and what I am good at.

My new job is going to be quite a different working experience, as it’s all remote working. I’m not sure how I feel about working from home full time… (Will I get bored? Am I going to go stir crazy? How do I keep myself motivated?)

It certainly hasn’t been an easy year – there have been significant challenges, and not just professionally, but I have learnt something from every experience, positive or negative. This year has been as much about a change of attitude and personality as it has anything else. When I left medicine, I was completely oblivious to the paucity of my skill set. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. Things I thought I knew about myself were suddenly challenged – abilities I thought I had suddenly failed me when they were tested in a different way. We medics live in a somewhat sheltered world, where things work in a certain way, and we don’t need to develop certain skills because we simply don’t need them. Unless you make the effort to step out of the bubble, you may never realise that. It’s not a criticism – there’s nothing wrong with absorbing yourself in your vocation, particularly if it makes you happy. It’s more a comment on me really – I was poorly prepared for the ‘real’ world.

I think the hardest knowledge-gap to overcome was that of myself. At 28 years of age, I’m only just beginning to learn my likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, motivations and aversions. I honestly thought I knew this stuff, until this year forced me to defend myself on all those counts, and I found my resources sadly lacking. I remember doing an Emotional IQ test a while ago, and being puzzled by my bizarre score – I was really good at reading other people, responding to their needs and imagining what they might be going through, but totally hopeless when it came to myself. As my best friend once put it, I was ‘seeing the world through the prism of my own experiences’. It makes me wonder how many more epiphanies are coming my way and whether I’m ready to cope with them!

It’s been messy and emotional, but I was chatting to a couple the other day – friends of mine who are at a different stage of life, with some of their kids almost grown up and others still little, and long careers behind them. They are at a turning point in their lives, partially by choice, but a large part of it is that circumstances have made change a necessity. They joked that it was good that I’d had my ‘quarter-life crisis’ now, before kids came into the equation and made it all more complicated!

So Aspirant is my next adventure. I can’t deny I feel extremely nervous about starting, but it was surprising how much a kind little message from a future colleague-to-be really reassured me that things are going to be OK.

There’s just one more thing I’d like to say in this post, and that is how I got this job:

I know I keep banging on about it, but medics out there need to know the power of networking. I was at the Giant Health Event just after we came back from our honeymoon – I had free entry thanks to a Press pass from Medic Footprints (read the article here if you like). I was listening to a panel discussion about health tech start-ups, and one of the panellists was Chris Hafner, the President of Aspirant.

He said something I really liked: he basically had a mini-rant about how frustrating it was when HR firms focussed so resolutely on hiring people who looked good on paper. He lamented how often brilliant people without much experience, but plenty of brain and potential, were overlooked. He believed that bringing fresh eyes to a problem sometimes provoked the creative thinking required to solve it, whilst someone with decades of industry experience, while sometimes useful, had a danger of falling into complacency. He even went as far as to say that a little naivety regarding the history of your company or industry was beneficial (in small doses), as it means that you are not stunted by the weight of known limitations, or put off even starting by knowledge of the complexities ahead.

I felt a certain kinship to this message, having recently been said clueless but enthusiastic person, so I did something that former-me would never, ever have done: I sought him out after the discussion, told him why I liked what he said, gave him my card and took his. We had an interesting but brief chat at the conference, and at a later date met for a more lengthy discussion, when he went into detail about Aspirant’s ethos and his own dreams for the company. I got the ‘kindred spirit’ feeling from him, as we seemed to think in a similar way, and I admired what he was trying to achieve.

The suggestion of a job came out of that, and after several interviews with other team members, I accepted the offer. It really was as simple as a quick conversation about a genuine shared opinion.

I start next Monday!

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