Yes, it has indeed been a while since I last posted.
This is due to a number of reasons really (or excuses as you may call them!), firstly, very busy with work as there has been a lot of change for me there in the last 2 years or so, starting with a promotion. You may recall that I was undertaking a dual role as not only the Regional Service Manager within Scotland but also the L&D Manager within the business helping and supporting all staff with their learning and development as well as setting up, administering and supporting a Learning Platform for all staff to engage with and develop their skills and knowledge accordingly. This was changed and no longer were we concentrating on our own LMS instead we shelved this in favour of utilising our Parent Company’s preferred choice. Whilst this was the right move to make for both financial and resource time reasons it also had a down side in that the replacement portal whilst great for the likes of Health & Safety, it left somewhat of a void to support the wider scope of all things not specific to H&S. This is still to be addressed but is currently being worked on at group level so should see some traction on it before much longer.
As part of the role change/promotion I became much more focused on cost control and driving efficiencies within the department, which actually came at a very good time as Brexit hit us hard, as it did most businesses, not just in our sector. Brexit meant that costs to deliver went up and so our cost to service was greatly impacted. Fortunately some of the projects I had started to work on prior to Brexit and the ensuing cost increases enabled us to ride some of the storm and at the close of the last financial year FY2016/17 I, alongside the great team I have, managed to drive, through the eight regions, via the Regional Technical Managers and their teams a cost saving in excess of £500k. As I write this now at the start of H2 in FY2018/19 we are well on track to hitting similar levels of savings this year also. This is not entirely my doing and it is a testament to all of the staff within the Technical Department that we have achieved this together through due-diligence and frugal handling of parts as well as time that have enabled us to meet expectations.
Home life – this has also seen change. Jackie and I managed to tie the knot after almost 12 years of being together. The day went very well indeed, although the lead up to it was, at times, fraught with panic, frustration and anxiety. And that was just the Bank Manager during his own personal white knuckle ride. The good news is that our lines of communication with the bank became stronger, especially towards the end of the planning stages as the texts became as frequent as twice a day at their peak. The venue was a brilliant choice and of course having family, friends and indeed work colleagues there made it a day to remember. Has it changed me at all? No, not at all. I think in our case, the fact that I was working away in Manchester all week, travelling from Greenock to head South on a Sunday and then head home again on Friday only to grab enough time for a quick “hello”, wash and iron of clothes and then head back again perhaps had the ingredients of a very successful and blissful marriage. However, that all changed again in May of this year when we upped sticks and I headed South for the last time, only this time, I had all of my belongings and thankfully the belongings of my family packed away in a removal truck as we headed to Manchester to live. We have been here now as a “TEAM” for the past 3 months and I have to say, and I hope my Wife, children and extended family who all live in Manchester will agree has been a great move and certainly well needed given the short time we were all spending together prior to that. We have certainly done more in the past 3 months as a family than we have in past 5 years that Madeleine came into our lives. It is a joy to be home again full time!
What does the rest of 2018 have in store? – Well, certainly more of the same, that is for sure. The cost control and efficiency drives will continue. The travelling from North to South on a weekly basis has stopped but I now spend a little more time in the standing traffic of Manchester than I would prefer but eh oh, you can’t have everything.
I am generally enjoying life as a third time married man and watching the kids grow up, which is definitely high on the agenda. Jackie has found a new job as a Teaching Assistant as she looks to start her final year of Uni. in September to become a qualified Teacher. I am extremely proud of her achievements, writing essays and papers, sitting exams etc. All with flying colours I might add.
I think work will change in the face of many challenges, not least with the industry looking to see what new charge models need to be placed as the number of prints reduce across many companies as digital document management becomes more main stream. The company is still a great place to be and to work for and we continue to go from strength to strength. New people are joining as other people both long and short term staff are moving to pastures new. But all in all, times are great of not evermore challenges. If they weren’t challenging then life would be one long bore-fest!
Our Daughters New School – Both our Daughters started in a new school once we moved down here. That was a challenge for both of them but one that I think was fairly easily overcome and they seem to be settled in with a whole lot of new friends. Alex joins another new school in September as she goes up to the High School. This is in itself was a challenge for all of us including Jackie and I because of the difference in school years between Scotland and England. Had we stayed in Scotland, Alex would be heading into her last year of primary this time around but instead due to her age she is going into High School as stated above, meaning essentially she is missing out on a year but she will catch up and with our support I feel she will smash her concerns and get through it as us Gills always do.
The school she is going into, Harrop Fold is a great school with a great leader at the helm. But again that in itself is another hill to climb, which I have dedicated a whole page on my site to and you can read some more HERE if you wish.
Take care for now folks and hopefully, it won’t be too long again before I update the page and keep chipping away at more of my passions.