Yesterday was my fiftieth birthday. Today is the tenth anniverary of my last day as the director of financial services at Doncaster Council. This seems a good day for reflection and for thinking about the future. For the last ten years I have been self-employed. At the time I left Doncaster Council I thought I was trading the security of a local government job with a pension, etc for greater variety. As it turned out the job security which had always seemed to me to be unchangeable has been eroded so perhaps I didn't lose much. Certainly, I have managed to do a wider variety of work than I could have achieved if I had always worked as a full-time employee of public organisations. I also finished a master's degree (in public administration) and attended an executive programme at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Initially my self-employed work was in local government but over time I have carried out assignments in charities, police forces, schools and private companies. Mostly this has been in the UK but I have done some work overseas.
One of those overseas assignments turned out to be a turning point. As a result of doing a week-long training session in Juba, South Sudan I got the chance to do some teaching at Warwick Business School. It turned out that I really enjoyed being a teacher notwithstanding the introversion which usually means I try very hard not to be the centre of attention in any gathering. As well as enjoying being in the front of a lecture room full of people, I got good feedback from students because, I think, I tell stories from my direct experience of managing public money to illustrate the theories I teach.
My teaching experience directly led to me getting a contract for a textbook on public financial management. I really enjoyed writing the book. When I look back at my time as a local government accountant, the work I liked best was writing reports so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that I liked writing a whole book. (I may be unusual in being an accountant who likes words more than numbers but, hey, that's me.)
My future direction
One of the things I'm particularly proud of is being a published author with a page on Amazon and everything (in fact, the book is on sale at Amazon in several different territories and that makes me even prouder). Being a published author seemed an ambition I was very unlikely to achieve back when I was a local government worker. Indeed I'm sure it would never have happened because when I had a job there was always more tasks than I had time to do so I would have felt guilty spending even spending my spare time on a book when I felt I should be reading committee papers or something.
My book royalties are modest, not enough even for my cats to live on, but I want to do more writing and teaching and try to make as much of my living from them as I can. I wrote a novel a few years ago but gave up sending it to publishers after the first tranche of rejections. I want to revisit the manuscript and see if I can get it published. I also have ideas for other stories which I've not yet written.
I also want to carry on writing about public financial management. I think writing and selling a series of e-books on subjects like budgeting and contracting-out could fit in well with developing my business to be more focused on training and teaching.
It would have been really great if I was able today to announce the launch of my new business, with a nice new website and all that jazz, but I haven't done all of the detailed work yet. But it's good to have taken time, at least, to write this blogpost as a marker.