“Well, that must have been a funny experience for you……” – by Steve Noble

That’s one of the most regular comments I’ve heard these past few months when chatting to folks and updating them with an excited message about starting a new chapter….starting somewhere new but right in the earliest stages of lockdown.

So, technically it is new….but in so many ways its felt like coming home.

Friends and people I’ve known and worked with, that runs back almost 17 years, made the initial decision to join an easy and natural one. And, when I did step through the door (metaphorically speaking, as most of the whole country has been operating remotely since March!) those past relationships and friendships utterly removed any apprehension that might normally accompany such a move.

That makes me lucky then and perhaps why as I sit penning this note, I pinch myself that almost five months have already passed and wonder “how the hell did that happen”, because I feel as if I’ve been here ages, and in the same breath, feel brand new.

I decided that I was determined when writing this to try and avoid using some of the phrases and words that have become so ingrained in our daily lives these past months, and instead both reflect and look forward trying to remove this filter.

I’m not long back from a Summer holiday with the family in France – it’s what we planned and booked at the start of the year. We had a great time and it made me appreciate both the importance of being away with family and that lots and lots of people had their plans either cancelled or cruelly altered, including a close pal of mine who literally drove off the boat in France, turned around and rejoined the queue to come back again. That might qualify as one of the shortest spells on foreign soil on record!

So, the kids have started back at school, most everyone you speak to will be spending more time in their workplace (not home) and there feels an eagerness to do so, to crack on and look forward positively. We’ve all enjoyed more time working differently, some more than others, but operating a bit like we did in September 2019 and 2018 feels a common theme from lots of conversations, and I for one, am keen to see it.

I couldn’t write this piece though and not reflect on the business I’m so pleased to be part of and look at it in the bigger market sense. It’s performed so positively in a way that I’m not sure I could have reasonably expected. Existing client performance, levels of new business written (yes they are behind plan, but come on, who isn’t?) and a general consistency of approach, appetite and desire hasn’t altered its course during these past tumultuous months. Don’t believe me? Twice in the last two months our record for the largest deal ever done has been broken. Yes, in July and August 2020, not March or November of a ‘normal’ year, but right in the midst of something none of us have experienced before…and, let’s be honest hope we’ll never see again.

So, as Autumn approaches and the t-shirts are swapped for long sleeves, I look forward with genuine optimism for this business and the team of people here, who have made me so welcome and emphatically confirmed why it’s the right one.

As I said, I’m lucky. Our strapline is “driving business forward” – rarely has a phrase been more apt.