Sunday, 26 January 2014

A very tough week...

Last week was my last week at the Co-op.
Last week I had to finish handing everything over to those who would carry on my role, which made it pretty busy.
Last week I had to say goodbye to a number of really good friends and a whole load of great people I'd spent the last 3 years working with.
The day itself came far too quickly and I inevitably I soon found myself being surrounded by friends and colleagues for the traditional leaving presentation. I received the speech and my presents and I think I managed to give my little goodbye speech without too much emotion creeping in. As I said in the speech, I began the process of leaving the Co-op nearly 10 months ago. It was at a time when I was being put into a role that I was neither too familiar with nor one that I wanted to move into as a career choice. Since then I've had a number of interviews with Lloyds and I like what I've seen and heard. The role they offered suited me much better. During those 10 months however I have learned the Co-op role, become part of a very large programme and more importantly, built a number of very strong friendships. As I said in my speech on Thursday, if I was asked at this point in time, I wouldn't even  be considering leaving the Co-op. I couple of extra years on the programme doing a role that wasn't my first choice would have been fine. But, I have completed the process with Lloyds, and I do like the look of the role they've offered, so there really is no turning back.
Having organised a leaving present or two myself in the past, I know how tough they are to keep on top of. At the Co-op we are spread across three buildings in Manchester, which makes it all the more difficult. I'd like to thank Claire for all her hard work last week, taking on a number of my tasks, making sure I handed over everything in time and on top of this and her own work, for sorting out my leaving present.
The very generous collection bought me a copy of Ralph Steadman's latest book (and a very big book it is) Proud Too Be Weirrd. It's something that I will treasure forever. There was also a little box of things that'll help me survive in my new company. The vital stuff. Biscuits. Earl Grey Tea and an emergency light and whistle. And of course the cards with some lovely comments, an some cheeky ones of course.
I had decided to have my actual Leaving Do the next day, on the Friday night, taking the day off to collect my hire car (a lovely white it is too ... well .. it was) and going into Manchester later in the day to meet up with those who could make it out that night to make sure I didn't have to drink alone. Again the event, which was in the Terrace bar in the Northern Quarter was organised by Claire and was a great night that went off without a hitch, apart from me being a little late... sigh.
It was really nice that so many managed to come along, some even by way of Barclays (they had left the Co-op a number of months ago). I had a lovely evening chatting to people who I really do hope, and plan, to keep in touch with.
At some point I wore Claire's hat...
Claire and Neil - pose for the camera.

Neil goes one better and poses in Claire's hat and scarf.
As people left one after another the whole thing became more and more real for me, the beer helped to keep me from getting too sad.
At the end Matt, Neil, Claire and I were the only ones left. We stayed for another couple of pints. I confessed to Matt that the only way I'd managed to beat him in the Team Fantasy Football League the year before was by getting another friend of mine (an old Barclays friend who Matt would never meet (for his safety)) to manage the team for me. I've always been a believer in accepting your own limitations and finding creative ways around them. Matt was a little annoyed, but mostly relieved to know that he wasn't beaten by a Sci-Fi geek.
Matt just couldn't believe I had been so devious.
And then I found myself making sure Claire got her taxi home safely and a slow lonely walk back to my hotel (I decided a few weeks ago that I wouldn't be getting a train home after drinking as much as I knew I would be drinking).
Thanks then to everyone at the Co-op who made the last three years so enjoyable, and particularly those on the Jupiter Programme for bearing with me as I got my head around the Lead Solution Architect role. I'll miss you all.
I'll leave this posting with the best role title I had in my time at the Co-op. At one point, on the Mars programme, I was Dave West, Data Architect of Mars ... look out John Carter.

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