Emerging stronger and happier following the unexpected

Take back control, flip your perspective, and do something you love



Lockdown may be coming to an end but, for some of us, the ways in which Covid-19 has changed our lives may be only just beginning.

Despite offices being reopened globally, many are reluctant to go back to their workspace, even though the furlough scheme will soon come to an end and the unemployment figures make for concerning reading.

But even if Covid-19 has transformed your life by depriving you of your job, CMI member Holly Saxon insists that change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Through re-imagining your career and perhaps flipping your perspective, you’ll be more able to find opportunities you never would have considered before the pandemic hit.

“Before Covid-19 hit, I was Head of Operations at a small start-up company that provided B2B and B2C access to savings accounts. Initially the only difference was working from home,” the certified business coach explains. “Then a week into lockdown, I was invited to a last minute catch up call - completely out of the blue - telling me I was losing my job. I had only been there a year and had taken a risk moving from a big corporate role which I loved to join the small business. It was such a shock, and since then, I’ve been through a wide range of emotions. Looking for a job is like a full-time role without the income.”

Saxon insists that when the going gets tough, the most important thing is to “remain positive and keep motivated.” During her job search, she realised she was passionate about helping others - particularly disadvantaged young people.

“I knew I was very interested in mentoring and training in the apprentice space, so I signed up to a tutoring agency and am now teaching maths locally,” she recalls. “Next, I applied for and gained a non-executive role at REAch2 Academy Trust, which supports 60 primary academies across England to improve and enhance education and support service capabilities. It’s a challenge, but ultimately it’s making a difference to the community and the lives of young children.” Her next step was to apply for - and win - a role as Head of Programme Delivery at Eastside Youth – who provide support to the varied and diverse youth communities of East London. Once again, this was “all about helping young people become confident, connected, and proud of who they are as unique individuals.”

But perhaps most vitally, losing her job due to unforeseen circumstances meant Holly was able to focus on going into business for herself: “Last year, I qualified as a business coach, so I have used this time to set up my own organisation, Resilience and Presence, and hope to help and inspire others by offering support. Things don’t always go as planned - so how do we bounce back from that quickly? How do we make sure that we don’t freeze or stumble on our own emotions, or allow anxieties and fears to stop us moving forwards?”

For the whole country, Covid-19 came out of nowhere, wreaking havoc and turning ordinary circumstances into a complete nightmare. If you’ve lost your job or face the prospect of doing so in the near future, you must not punish yourself, lose confidence, or believe that you are not capable – especially if the shock seems paralysing and the pathway back into paid employment unclear.

“I’m not going to lie - I still have uncomfortable memories about losing my job,” Holly concludes. “It’s a negative experience that I won’t forget in a hurry. But for me, what’s fundamental about the Covid-19 situation has been the ability to take a step back, focus on my strengths, and to think: ‘What really matters to me?’ At the moment I feel content and passionate about the work I am doing, and the time just whizzes by because I feel I’m making a real difference.”

First published 20 July 2020

Chartered Management Institute

Authors - Emily Hill and Holly Saxon

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