The HR Juggler

Day 19: It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money…

Posted on: December 19, 2011

One of the things I have enjoyed most about running this advent calendar of guest blogs is the opportunity to read posts from individuals who rarely write for public consumption. The lovely Sarah Durbridge falls exactly into this category and it is a real delight to me that she has contributed to this series…I am hoping she develops a taste for blogging in the future, but she may need some convincing!

There are so many brilliant qualities to list about Sarah: she is fun, funny, down-to-earth, warm and engaging. She is a real pleasure to know both online and offline and you can connect with her on Twitter @mrsdurbs.


Despite being in the midst of a re-organisation, I never dreamt when walking into a video conference hosted by “the boss” and her leadership team in June 2010, that the moments that followed would have such a dramatic effect. With hindsight, perhaps I should have seen the redundancy coming……

Now don’t fret, this isn’t a “feel sorry for me because I was laid off” post but I feel it necessary to mention because it sets the context for the remainder of 2010 and for some of my high, and low(er) points in 2011.

Effective July 2010, I was placed in a six-month transition role. During that time I got angry, upset, buried my head in the sand and pretended “it” wasn’t happening, convinced myself that after 17 years they wouldn’t let me go; that something would come up, felt like walking out (more than once), dreamt of ways to ensure my final project failed (that would teach them!), dreamt of leaving a legacy behind, worked harder than ever before, slacked a bit…. and attended an unconference :).

I am referring to the first ConnectingHR unconference, and yes I realise I am still in 2010. I will get to 2011 shortly but humour me for a moment if you will because that event reminded me there was a network of supportive, fun (I know!!), successful HR types alive and kicking outside of my organization, and thus it became somewhat of a turning point for me. I took charge of things. I put my positive head on and decided that the pay-off (thank-you very much) wasn’t the only advantage to the situation.

Cue 2011. It didn’t start great, to be honest. Sure, I enjoyed having some time off initially but not having a place to be, or a purpose (work wise), made me feel a little lost so I decided to get my CV out there in early Feb. The first person I sent it to told me that I was unlikely to get a job in HR as I hadn’t really been doing HR work….. in fact, I had been part of a global OD/development team for 10 years but my CV was awful and did not tell the story I wanted it to. Thank goodness I got that feedback early on!

Horrors including numerous meetings and phone calls with recruiters, interviews for jobs I didn’t really want, and three CV iterations preceded a couple of highlights 1) a lovely lunch and chat with @dougshaw1 and 2) a phone call with @garyfranklin. Doug and Gary provided some sound advice and it led to me applying for the role I am in today. The highlights continued….in preparation for my interviews I received support from @Deadbeatmum, @onatrainagain and @naturalgrump and since being in the role the lovely @robjones_tring has also supported me – you were all fab, thank you!

My new role has meant a change in sector, a sizeable drop in salary (hence the post title….yes, finally there is the link!), allows me to have good work/home life balance, and to do the work I really want to do. My first project involved developing new organisation values and behaviours. The truly consultative nature of this work has led to buy in and engagement from most, if not all, and I am so proud to have been part of it. Other significant highlights include the implementation of a performance management process, which is linked to reward, and the introduction of eLearning.  Not wanting this to read like a CV, I will stop there – you get the idea… I am loving my job and I really feel like I am adding value.

I fear I have rambled on too long already but if I haven’t lost you then I have two more (non HR related) things to share.

For the first time ever I recently overheard my hubby speaking favourably about the work I do. He has never really cared to understand it, and has been known to refer to it (in jest, I hasten to add) as nothing more than “corporate bull” but since his promotion to a leadership role in January (a family highlight), and hearing me speak so passionately about recent projects, he has taken more notice and seems to “get it” and, I think he finally believes it is worthwhile – a personal yay!

Lastly, my teenage daughter came to work at my organization earlier this year on a two-week work experience placement. The morning of her first day was a particularly trying one – usual teenage behavior (so they tell me). Anyway, it made me begin to wonder if her coming to my work place was the right thing. I needn’t have worried. The day she finished her placement, I got this from the lady she was working with You have one beautiful, clever, charming young daughter…I hope when I have children and they reach 15 they are as lovely as she is” – this feedback meant a lot and now I find myself much more able to give her the benefit of the doubt, ignore the moods (most of the time), and remind myself that the girl we raised is still in there somewhere!

So, those were some of my highlights and horrors. As we approach the end of the year I vow to be more organised, get a cleaner, and find something productive to do on my days off (I work part-time only) in 2012. I also must get fit so I can make it through the Moonwalk (walking 26 miles for Breakthrough Breast Cancer) in May. I’m looking forward to all of that and whatever else comes my way! 🙂


How could I possibly post a blog with this title and not attach the video link below? Bet you’ll be singing it all day now!

7 Responses to "Day 19: It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money…"

Nice one Sarah! I remember that lunch as if it were yesterday (Fish at Borough Market – recommended). It felt to me like you were revving up for a big adventure and I really enjoyed spending time with you that day, and the times we’ve spoken since your move to your new role.

I’m sure people will be inspired by your story, thanks for sharing it.

Thanks Doug – yes, I remember that lunch well too and afterwards I realised that I had to get myself into gear. I enjoyed hearing about your experiences and admire your determination to make things work, even through the tougher times you mentioned.

You continue to be a support mechanism to many…. and I really would like to bring you in some time in the not too distant future to run a World Cafe – watch this space 🙂

Hi Sarah. What a fantastic review of life’s ups and downs – here’s to a great 2012 for you and your family!


Thanks, Claire; glad you liked the post. Hopefully 2012 will be a good one for you too!

Thanks Sarah for the reassurance. I have just lost my job through redundancy after 19 years so I’m at the start of the journey!

Thanks for your comment, Bernadette. I know it sounds like a cliche but I really haven’t looked back. I would never have jumped, I had to be pushed and whilst I was concerned about that initially, now I believe it was the best thing that could have happened, for many reasons! Be interested to hear about your journey some time….and really hope that 2012 sees you flourish 🙂

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