The countdown to whatever comes nextPosted: May 20, 2012
This Wednesday will be my last day working for the British Council here in Hanoi.
There’s no single reason why I decided to leave, I’ve spoken to a few people recently, both within the BC and others in similar positions to my own (I was head of marketing and communications), and everyone seems to be going through a process of transition. The old ways don’t work any more but the new ways need more in-house resources, not to mention a step change in attitudes.
Rather naively when I joined I didn’t really understand the terminology when it came to employment. Foreign colleagues were “UK appointments” or “local appointments”. I was neither, I was Vietnamese. Sometime in the future I’ll write about what it was like to be Vietnamese in this context. For now it’s enough to say that workload and aggravation will always be judged against remuneration and increasingly one didn’t compensate enough for the other.
In the end I was there a little under a year and a half. My boss was kind enough to provide a reference and his thoroughness meant he listed many achievements that even I had forgotten. It’s been a pleasure to work with a great marcomms department overseeing a digital head and communications manager. While there’s been treacle swimming elements, last week on the way back from an external meeting we started reminiscing about what we’d inherited as a department and all the change that had been implemented. I think that step change has been made.
In the end, what I enjoyed most about the job was how so much of the best bits reminded me of old days working in newspapers. A modern marcomms department has to create so much content. Words, pictures and movies – while at the same time keeping an eye on assorted platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Ning and even Tumblrs have been used this year. We had to do everything in two languages.
So while at one end it was supposed to be strategy and big picture stuff, I was also constantly writing, editing, captioning, uploading etc.
In the end though it’s been great to go out on a high. One of the additional tasks I picked up was to oversee our London 2012 support – both Olympic and Paralympic. Among the many events and initiatives have been the Living Clock. My idea, fleshed out by the “UK Family” Comms group, it’s since been adopted across the East Asia region – inspiring such wonderful efforts as this from British Council Japan.
As I speak we’re 68 days to go and it’s building beautifully and receiving compliments from regional and head office. It’s already on Flickr, Tumblr and Facebook and on Friday we even talked of turning it into a small book to leave with prospective clients. This “100 days in 2012” snapshot would tell you more about the sheer volume and breadth of our work than any number of more traditional corporate brochures.
As for the job itself, it was the best job ever and (sometimes) the worst(ish) - frequently on the same day. Incredible wider team though – as I have written about before. I have also come away so impressed by just how hard everyone works and, even to a cynic like me, what an inspiring organisation the British Council is.
What next? Well I have to admit that when I handed in my notice, knowing that it’d be three months till I was out the door, I had expected to have something lined up by now.
I was recently approached by a headhunter who wanted to talk about a great job and I was suitably enthusiastic. An initial interview and then it’s all gone quiet. Likewise I’ve applied for an exciting post but my email is as yet unbothered by offers of jobs or even another interview. Ever since I first completed my first VSO post in 2007 I have been sporadically applying for NGO posts with only one six-month interim post to show for it. With 20 years media/comms/ PR experience behind me and no interest, it’s easy to feel like it’s a closed shop.
The position the headhunter talked about was actually in Ho Chi Minh City – moving within Vietnam or within the region are not being ruled out yet.
But, in the meantime, I’ll be keeping myself busy. There are one or two little consultancy jobs lined up which are great. I’ll also be assisting The Cart on a daily basis. I’m also going to try and finally get some weight off too by doing a little more exercising – 10 kilos by the end of summer is the plan.
Since resigning, at times, thoughts of the future have felt rather exhilarating – I have to say right now that’s wavering towards worrying. But last year I spent half my wage on healthcare and travel back to the UK – whatever I end up doing here it’s going to have to be a little more sustainable.
Finally apologies if posts recently have waivered between grumpy and somewhat obscure. The situation has its own pressures and on top of that there were a lot of things I didn’t really want to write about until now. I hope that makes sense.
Sorry – that all got rather long winded. Pic is the view from work. I shall miss that also.