Rachel Dalboth’s 6 months at The FIRM!


21 years.

That’s how long I had been in corporate life (yes, I joined as a young child).
To move out of that? Terrifying!

Yet here I am.

Working for a company with less than 10 employees. My last organisation had 174,000.

But despite the inevitable (and very real) fear, the excitement that drew me in to even think about the opportunity of Strategy & Capability Director at the FIRM, has been proved the better and wiser feeling.

But before we get into all the emosh stuff, let me talk practicalities.

Because I tell you folks, onboarding again after 15 years in the same organisation reminded how incredibly important that stuff is.

A brand new, fully working laptop 2 days before I started – delivered to my home. Followed swiftly by my requested wireless gadgets. Oh, and a courtesy call from IT to check everything was working and to talk me through the systems and apps. Yep, that works for me. Small things matter. Especially if they enable you to do the job you are so excited about getting on and doing.

So then the team……

I will be honest (as I was with Emma before I accepted the role), a big concern from me having worked in a large team, was the lack of human company I might suffer in a small company.

Anyone that knows me knows I am a chatter box (no apology.)

I like a natter by the coffee machine. I want to know how your date went and if your pet dog kept that cone on.

And despite this, from that first morning in November logging on in my home office, I have never felt less lonely and more supported.

Sure, I have worked from home before – a lot. But mainly in an attempt to escape the madness of an office long enough to get some heads-down-work time. Or to avoid the soul-destroying commute of 1hr40 which would only be 35 minutes if the entire population of Surrey and Hampshire was not heading the same way.

To work for home ALL THE TIME? That’s was a different prospect altogether.

But here is the thing. I knew they were there at the end of the skype button. Or phone. Anytime.
It was not a” blah blah” statement about agile team working. And if I suspected that at the start, my suspicions were soon proved so wrong when I FELT it. Every day.

This was a team who wanted it to work – for themselves and one another.

Although I will admit it took some getting used to when we would log into skype and just tap away and work to recreate the office vibe, the banter and general chit chat made all the difference. (And all whilst in a tracksuit, having dropped the kids to school and in the knowledge you can get some peace with a click of an “end skype call” button.)

The other thing about the team? How quickly I felt part of it.

I was made to feel so incredibly welcome from the beginning that at times, I think we all forgot I was new. Until I asked some seriously dumb questions. Lots of them.

I have also been made to feel that my opinion really matters.

Right from the start, I have been able to be 100% honest – because that was what I have been brought into do. Challenge. Bring in new ideas. Test out old ones. Anything is a worthy idea for discussion, just as long as our members are at the heart of it.

Which brings me to the proper emosh stuff I warned you about….

When I reflect on the last 6 months, the most stark realisation for me is this. I am doing what I LOVE. Every day.

Yes, there are grotty admin bits (I have been spotted at events stacking chairs, acting as fire-warden and tending to sick guests) but like the rest of my job – it matters. What I do counts. For the business and for our members.

And I guess that is what appealed the most on paper, and when chatting to Emma about the role before I took it. It is what gave me the tingle in my tummy when I thought about making the move. But it is also what has made the biggest impression on me in the reality of doing the job. The fact that I can help support those who are doing the same job as I was doing for so long. Because I remember how bloody hard it was!

The constant ear ache from managers. The tension between resource, budget and trying to do new and innovative things. The daily toss up between a tea and a wee (on a good day).

But also because I remember how despite it all, I loved it and stayed in it. Perhaps through some twisted sense of challenge, but more likely for the sense of achievement through even the smallest wins. The nightmarish but highly sought-after candidate with unparalled skills and experience finally saying yes! The toughest hiring manager being converted, and in a total 180 degree move, sending through glowing feedback on the recruiter they made cry last week. The business case you submitted finally getting signed off after 16 months of hard slog – at the point when you were ready to throw in the towel (not that you ever let on).

See, it is all about purpose. I know that every meeting I have, every bit of content I write, every presentation I give – is helping the FIRM’s purpose to support its members. You lovely lot.

And meanwhile I have the utter privilege of talking to super cool people doing super cool things.
I get to do design and deliver training, hopefully creating even small lightbulb moments.
I travel.
I work with amazing Heads of Recruitment who are grappling with organisational challenges.
I run around like Challenge Anneka to ensure events run smoothly whilst getting to listen to inspiring speakers.
I work with suppliers and partners who want to work with us to make a difference to the industry.

All whilst gasping in awe at what you, our members, are delivering in your organisations every day. Bravo.

So I will end this blog by summarising as follows:

Its been a hard 6 months. Straight in at the deep end. Learning something entirely new.
But it has also been the most rewarding, exciting and fun 6 months I have probably ever had.
So here is to what I hope to many more 6 months with the FIRM.

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