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On the Road again – the Finale?

02 Mar

During the third week in January last year (2012) I was seeking some form of remunerative occupation to replace the 3 month Windows 7 deployment with the National Construction Skills College which had come to an end just before Christmas 2011.

A week or so earlier I had been called on two separate occasions by two separate agencies asking if I was interested in “a Windows 7 contract with British Sugar”. On both occasions I answered in the affirmative and was assured that my details would be passed on to the appropriate people. As these agencies sometimes get a bit miffed if a contractor is “poached” by a rival agency (and because they cannot get back at said rival they take their vengeance by blacklisting the poor innocent contractor) I did the ethical thing and told the second caller of the previous call. It didn’t seem to bother him and, as already related, he agreed to send my details over to the company.

Then, as so often happens, everything went quiet and I heard nothing whatsoever on the jobs front for several days.

On the morning of Tuesday 24th January, while I was doing my daily trawl of the numerous internet job sites, I received a phone call from an agency near Leeds who had found my details on line and were enquiring about my availability for a Windows 7 contract with “a large Food company”.

This reminded me of the two earlier calls and I asked “Is this the British Sugar job?”

“In a way”, was the response and the caller went on to explain that this position was with Associated British Foods, the company that owns British Sugar. I explained to him about the other callers and their promises to pass on my details and he expressed some surprise that a person of my experience in this area had not been called back given that the project was due to start the following week.

He then promised to investigate and call me back in 20 minutes. Naturally, on past performances, I wasn’t expecting to hear any more but the call did come in as promised and the news was that ABF had never heard of me! However, my CV was now with them and they wanted to do a telephone interview that very afternoon.

I do not remember exactly what sort of thing Joe (the Project Manager) and I talked about but I must have made the right impression because 20 minutes after that call ended the agency phoned back and told me of the final stage of the process – a 3 day paid training course at a British Sugar conference facility 10 miles south of Peterborough starting the next day.

I duly turned up as requested (well why not – the money for the 3 days alone represented over 4 WEEKS Jobseekers Allowance) and met the Technical Support team, the three Team Leaders and two other guys at my own level who were to spend the first slightly tense “trial” month with me.

Incidentally I have written a number of work-related articles over the past 12 months or so and if I include links to all of them this piece will become even more unreadable than my natural writing style already makes it!

If you ARE interested in them try going back to February 2012 via the Archive list to the right of this page and move forward looking for anything with a title beginning “On the Road Again…” or “The Italian Job….”.

It has certainly been 14 months unlike any I have known for work-related travel. Although I have spent a total of 7 weeks not working (2 weeks paid “on the substitute’s bench”; 2 weeks unpaid decorating\holiday; and 3 weeks unpaid while the project was suspended over Christmas\New Year) as well as 11 weeks actually working close to home in Peterborough, the list of the places I have visited is quite impressive.

Here it is (including the location of my accommodation in brackets where this was different):
Wakefield
Bradford (Wakefield)
Walthamstow (South Woodford)
Orpington (Sevenoaks)
Gateshead (Washington)
Cardiff
Salford
West Bromwich
Cantley (Acle)
Newark (Elston)
Andover
Casteggio, Italy (Torrazzetta)
Andover
Hutton Cranswick (Driffield)
Sherburn-in-Emnet (South Milford)
Rugeley
Enstone (Deddington)
Goodworth Clatford (Andover)
Walsingham (Wells-next-the-Sea)
Cullompton (Tiverton)
Melmerby (Thirsk)
Bury St. Edmunds (Risby)
Leigh (Lowton)
West Malling (Larkfield)
Leigh (Lowton)

The people I have worked with, from the initial intake and those recruited a month or so later when it became necessary to expand the “pioneer squad” into 3 full teams, have been colleagues (often in adversity) who I am now proud to call my friends. Fourteen months is a long time to be working in close proximity (and often under some pressure) with groups containing such a wide range of temperaments, age and experience. Those who recruited us however built, by luck or good judgement, interchangeable teams that could, I think, take on and overcome any Windows 7 Migration project thrown at them.

The above list takes us to the very end of the project on Friday 1st March 2013 when I intend to publish it but as I write this part (sitting in the bar of one of the most haunted hotels in England – which is a story in itself) there is still just over a week left to go –  to be spent in Leigh, Lancashire.

When that week ends I shall put in my final timesheet with my claim to the final “loyalty bonus” and by the end of the following Monday I will be in Lanzarote with Faith getting re-acquainted with sun, swimming pools and (I sincerely hope) the wonderful minty concoction that is the Mojito. All of which have been missing from my life since the terrible and arduous Italian stage of the migration in the third and fourth weeks of July 2012.
And after that week overseas I do not as yet know what I will be doing – it may be my imagination but contract jobs of the sort I have been doing for a couple of years now do seem to be cropping up more and more frequently. Of course, that is only good if no full-time job (which is the desired outcome) turns up. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, in case I haven’t made my feelings sufficiently clear above, I would like to express my utmost appreciation and gratitude to every single member of the Associated British Foods, Shared Service Centre, Windows 7 Migration Team who have employed, helped and generally put up with me for the last 14 months. This includes the Project Management Team and “Backroom” staff as well as the Team Leaders and fellow Engineers with whom I have worked, moaned, bitched, laughed and socialised around the country (and, indeed, in other countries).

Thank you all – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

Alfie

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Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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