The HR Juggler

Day 22: Upgrades and Downgrades with @MrAirmiles

Posted on: December 22, 2011

Jose Franca makes me smile :). Always ready to engage, help out, offer an opinion, have fun or simply try something new, he’s a real pleasure to know and he brightens up my Twitter stream no end. You can find him at @MrAirmiles…watch out for his ‘interesting’ photos and tales of transporting Christmas trees……. 😉


As any frequent flyer can tell you, 2011 has been a year of ups and downs, and I don’t mean take-offs and landings. BA Airmiles were, in my opinion, downgraded to Avios, but they redeemed themselves by introducing a new membership layer – bronze, which I got upgraded to (having previously been downgraded from silver)!… but I digress!

When Alison asked me to write a guest blog about my “highlights and horrors of 2011” I thought twice about it, as blogging has been one of my 2011 “downgrade horrors!” Anyway, I gave it a go, wrote a post, last weekend my computer crashed, got it working again, the file had got corrupted and this is my 2nd attempt at re-writing it! An upgrade I hope!

My 2011 started unlike any other year. I woke up on January 1st to find myself jobless, in what was to be a very challenging year for job seekers everywhere, not to mention the doom and gloom of the world economy. A downgrade for sure!

The three months that followed were pretty uneventful. I had decided to take some time off to “rest”, but me being me, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, as my grandmother used to say. From sleeping, to gardening, DIY and even self-development, I did it all! @MrAirmiles took off on twitter, I launched a blog (short-lived but not entirely dead), ventured into “blogmenting” and focused on expanding my #connectinghr network. Some great personal highlights.

Whilst doing all those lovely things I started my job hunt and that’s when some of 2011’s “horrors” became apparent. Twice as many applicants for every job, recruiters that were more interested in making a quick buck or adding names to their database, and clients who changed their mind about roles as many times as the weather in the London! I was once put forward to an interview without my knowledge (I only found out when the client emailed me directly with the new interview time!). Not all were that bad and I met some great people who really listened to me as a person and as a professional – I’ll always remember you!

The biggest horror (and sadness) of all were some of the interviews themselves. The so-called HR and L&D professionals, with all sorts of letters in front of their name but sadly with poor interviewing skills, no clear vision about for the role, 5 stage interviews lined up (got to 6 once!) and endless psychometrics…trying to cover up their incompetence perhaps? If after the  2nd interview (1st I’d say) you still don’t have a feel if whether or not the candidate is right for the role, you should re-assess your interviewing skills! Oh, and don’t get me started on interview feedback! The best to date: “Jose could have smiled a bit more” (I had a cold, had lost my voice, and was offered no water!). That’s was a downgrade in my books!

Not all was bad and I interviewed with some great professionals! Mostly over a coffee, very informal but challenging and thought-provoking! The kind of interview that left me wanting the job even more. There are some great and genuine HR and L&D Professionals out there. Seriously! Upgrades all around and a pleasure to have met them!

At the end of April I was offered a role (within 48hrs of the interview – I was surprised at the speed!) and on May 3rd was starting the job, only to take the 5th off to attend my 1st #CHRU! Might just as well start in style!

With that new job came a new set of challenges (lots of content for another blog revival no doubt), the birth of the #grumpyoldcommuter hashtag,  and lots of exciting work!

I started on day 100 of the newly merged organization, truly being and feeling like the  “new kid” in town! I was one of the first people hired post merger and trying to remain objective, having to ask the difficult questions, not letting myself being influenced by either side whilst attempting to drive change was not an easy task, and its not over yet! A bit like experiencing turbulence on a flight…!

My grey hair count has gone up significantly… not helped by my downgrade from OneWorld Silver later that month!

The months that followed made 2011 a year of firsts for me (highlights and upgrades all round):

  • Canoeing in the Swedish lakes and sleeping in random islands with only wildlife for company

  • Camping in Croyde with a lovely bunch of strangers, most of whom I’d never met before (and surviving the hangover to tell the tale)

  • Pepe was born (the Welsh had something to do with it…)

  • Drinking percy-pig shots (don’t ask!)

  • Surfing in Devon (with hangover!)

  • Abseiling into the Burn O’Vat in Aberdeenshire (a fair amount of swearing occurred during the descent…)

  • Experiencing the jet blast at Maho beach in St Maarten (best birthday ever with my lovely partner, even though we both got massive sunburn)

  • The offer of an expat assignment in Rio (flattered but sadly had to turn it down for personal reasons)

  • Being invited to be a panelist on CIPD’s Social Media conference (despite only being active on the SM scene for a year – totally honored, thanks to @MrAirmiles of Twitter of course…)

All in all a fairly positive year, despite all the doom and gloom being portrayed in the news, newspapers and internet. 2011 treated me well, despite the shaky start, and I’m grateful for it.

On that note, and 195 tier points short of an upgrade to OneWorld Silver (Avios really make washing machines fly…), I’d like to thank Alison for the invite to guest blog and all those that have made a difference to my life in 2011. Lots of Airmiles to you all, Season’s Greetings and an Olympic 2012 full of joy!

3 Responses to "Day 22: Upgrades and Downgrades with @MrAirmiles"

Nice one Jose, There are quite a bit similarities to mine. Except the canoeing in Sweden (very jealous). I wish you wonderful 2012.

Dear Jose,

What a wonderful look back on 2011, downgrades and all! Here’s to a superb 2012! It’s a pleasure being one of your Twitter Pals! xx

Don’t the downgrades often make those upgrades so much sweeter?! Thanks so much for sharing. Here’s to the best year yet in 2012….

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