After my recent post about my unemployed status, an old varsity-buddy contacted me on Twitter to ask what inspired me to do this. I suppose I should share my reasons as some of you out there may be in the same boat.

See what I’m up to with my time off: LeisureChic

For the past three years I have been working in project management for a multi-national mining company. The project sites were far out of major cities/ airports and because there was not much to do out there, I ended up making many four-hour trips to the city and back. Returning to site one Monday morning last October, I was driven off the road by a carrier-truck and my SUV rolled several times and came to a grinding halt on its roof. I managed to get out of the car with minor whiplash injuries. I was incredibly lucky, but from the photographs below you can see that my car was not as lucky.

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Since then, I have been seriously thinking about my lifestyle and the fact that I am so far away from family and friends.  I moved out to Steelpoort to gain valuable experience in the field. I feel that I have done that and have succeeded in a very tough, cut-throat and demanding industry.  Another important point is that my growth curve – very steep throughout my last project – has recently started to plateau.  It all points to the fact that it is now time to apply the experience I have gained to a broader project environment.  I have taken a project engineer position with an engineering consultancy working on major projects for the mining industry across Africa. This is the type of company my previous employer would have outsourced its design and manufacturing services out to.

It’s exciting that I’m now going to see the other side of the coin. Having insight into the operations of a multi-national, as well as the management of a major project will (hopefully) give me an advantage in the consulting climate.  For one, I know the real-world impact of poor design decisions taken months or even years before.  In my experience, design engineers who have never worked in the field sometimes fall short in terms of operability and maintainability of equipment, or how difficult its assembly would be.  Having commissioned a plant and been involved in the running and problem solving of design blunders from the ground, I hope to avoid these basic mistakes.

But for those of you out there who are asking yourselves whether it may be time to make a change, perhaps the following questions would be able to help make your mind up:

  • Are you still learning at a very rapid rate? And if so, is this new experience/ knowledge valuable to your career long-term?
  • Does the experience you are gaining justify any major sacrifices to your lifestyle, health and well-being?
  • Do you enjoy what you do and is there scope for growth and promotion into a position that is attractive to you?

The answers to the above questions were a “no” for me. Perhaps you are in a different situation and still have more to gain where you are, or maybe it is time for you to move on.  You will know what is right when the time comes to decide.