Developing the future


August 13, 2013Writings on...No comments


I have a Director, Richard Corbridge our Chief Information Officer, who is very candid whenever we discuss development opportunities.

His view is simple. When planning and requesting development, the emphasis should not be about this role. It shouldn’t even be about your (my) next role. When going on courses or development programmes, your approach should always be to consider what you want to do, two or three roles down the line.

For many that is not always practical. Most are restricted by budget; often there is a restriction on training designed for the grade you are on. The biggest blocker of all could simply be your imagination. How will you know what you want to do three roles down the line, if you are in the sort of role where development was pre-loaded (education based) or you can’t see yourself beyond your current position?

I know what I want to do now. I even know what I want to do next, possibly even two roles down the line – but what if my imagination runs away with itself. What if my director’s role no longer appeals in 10 years’ time? What if it no longer exists? What if I take the leap – like others have done before me – and follow a dream?

In 10 years’ time I will be 48. No age really. Roughly the same age Rose Gray was when she and Ruth Rogers opened The River Café.

I was awoken by Harry shortly before 6am this morning. It was pointless trying to put him back down and go back to bed, so I looked through the sky planner for something to watch – deciding, rather quickly, to watch the Heston Blumenthal programme about Gray and Rogers as Italian Revolutionaries. Little did I think that this could be classed as development and training.

It was a behind the scenes look at their restaurant, the reasons for its inception and their backgrounds before they opened up. How two untrained, but imaginative cooks wanted to open a staff canteen for the employees of an architectural partnership – before becoming a Michelin starred restaurant, cookbook empire and home to a number of future cooking (and media) greats. An inspiration, even at that early hour.

It got me thinking about an idea I have had bubbling away inside my head for a while now. I often dream of opening a small bar/restaurant in a town or suburb in Northern Italy (or England, if location dictates). The idea is simple. To serve good, but simple food alongside great drink in a setting that people really want to go to – as a destination, rather than because it is there. The menu would be similar to one we experienced on our travels to Bologna. We walked in, sat down and were given two options per course for a three course meal; much like the ethos of the changing menus based on fresh, seasonal produce favoured by The River Cafe. It would sit alongside a wood fired oven for pizzas and bread snacks for those who just want to sit at the bar.

This idea is no good for now, nor my next role – but possibly three or four roles down the line, when I am slightly older than Rose Gray was when she took on her new challenge; when the kids who wake me up at 6am are old enough to fend for themselves at University or work. Could it then be the right time to take the plunge? To put the “career development” gained, through watching cookery programmes, buying cookbooks, gaining inspirations from the meals I cook, eat and share – in to the role my imagination is planning well in advance for me.

For now, my next role is clear in my head. Through development planning that offers a bit of foresight beyond tomorrow, through the support of a director who could be forgiven for only really caring about my tomorrow, I have the opportunity to plan for the future; to the extent where I can even think about the far future, when others would typically be coasting towards retirement.

It’s the kind of support I would be unwise not to take full advantage of.

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