The Accidental Multihyphenate

Variety is the Spice of Life

I was reading the Sunday Times the other week and it turns out that for once in my life I’m bang on trend. Too young to be a punk, too old to be a hipster. But in the world of work it turns out that I’m something called a “multihyphenate”.

Apparently, “many young workers today are giving up on the idea of a job for life in favour of building a portfolio career. It puts you at the centre of your own career choices and allows you to “Work Less, Create More & Design A Career That Works For You” according to multihyphenate guru Emma Gannon.

Maybe for millennials or Generation Z the idea of a portfolio career that combines broadcasting, podcasting, journalism, public speaking, consulting and being an author all at once is nirvana. But for a middle-aged man with a mortgage to pay the idea of not having a steady income and regular job is pretty scary. It was for me. Redundancy, short term assignments, things not working out meant that last year I took the plunge to do something different. It’s not something I actively chose to do, so I’m not saying I’m some kind of life-style genius who masterminded a new career. It just sort of happened to me.

At the back end of last year I helped set up a transport consultancy, PTK, with my former MD. I’m passionate about transport and want to continue to work in this sector. This has led me to work in Dubai for several weeks at the start of the year, an experienced I really enjoyed. I was part of a team undertaking a Training Needs Analysis which means that I got to talk to loads of really interesting and inspiring people, find out what challenges they faced and what training would be of benefit to them. It was great, I love meeting new people. Plus, I got to travel and go to the beach in the middle of January. I called it a “woliday”, a cross between work (during the week) and a holiday (at the weekend).

Putting together my passions for transport and football I’m now working on a Green Travel Plan for Rotherham United and I’m looking to hopefully produce sustainable travel plans for other sporting and entertainment venues as well as commercial and residential developments. At PTK we’re also putting a package together to try to help increase bus patronage and footfall in the high street. It really is exciting.

Using my marketing skills, this year I’ve worked with two ex-Premier League football players helping them to set up a new business. This has involved activities ranging from registering the business and developing an online presence through to designing logos and sorting out e-mail addresses! Our design expert Janet also played a big part in this project too.

Then there’s the charity work. I was initially recruited to write bids but ended up procuring a new cloud-based IT system. But it’s full steam ahead on fundraising now so that colleagues can help children, young people and families at key moments in their lives, helping them to overcome crises and become equipped to deal with whatever life throws at them in the future.

I’ve developed a marketing plan for a bus operator, and, along with other colleagues we are starting a new project offering training to people in subjects as diverse as digital marketing and well-being.

And all this has been achieved in the last 6 months with the help and support of my colleagues at Passenger Transport Knowledge. Thank you.

I’m not sure I’m working less, I don’t think I’m going to earn more, but I am certainly enjoying the variety of work, the thrill of landing a project that I really want to deliver and the flexibility of being able to take a little bit of time off when I fancy it. I’ve got used to working on Regus hot-desks and in libraries, McDonalds or anywhere else where there is a desk and free wi-fi.

I’ve not written this blog to show off or say how great I am or how wonderful PTK is. Like most things in my career it seems to have just happened to me rather than be some cunning plan. But with the skills we all have, the knowledge and experience we’ve built up over the years, it means that older people are in an ideal position to become multihyphenates. And it’s one trend that we shouldn’t just leave to the millennials and Generation Z.

I now just need to pluck up courage to change my Linkedin profile description to “multihyphenate”.

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