Work Experience Reconsidered — Part 5


Hampton Court Palace, Hampton, England

Comparing to the previous four, my fifth job was the most rewarding in self-development sense. I got to cover a maternity leave for Marketing Manager at the non-for-profit organisation — Embroiderers’ Guild, the office of which at the time was located in the Hampton Court Palace.

The Guild’s team consisted entirely of women except the Director who was a man. And even this was unusual, for before all Directors of the Guild had been women.

My salary after taxes was 1050 GBP, not so much more than with the antique jewellers, yet it was paid officially and on time. I took bus to work along the narrow and winding streets of different local ‘villages’ of Richmond, Twickenham, and Hampton. Cheap and jolly. My lunches consisted of either a jacket potato or a sandwich purchased in a local café across the river. As with my previous jobs, the salary would not even cover the rent.

The Guild’s office was on the ground floor. The windows of my room faced the main entrance, so I could observe a constant flow of visitors to the historical place. The gardens surrounding the Hampton Court Palace were truly royal and I even had a ‘Lady Chatterley’s’ sort of admirer — a gardener who was secretly in love with me and with whom I had a dance at the annual Christmas Ball at the Hampton Court Palace.

As Marketing Manager, I had plenty of promotional ideas for the Guild which I miraculously managed to implement and even see the fruit of my labour. Such a rare thing!

All was good except for one major thing — the overly ambitious Director who decided to use the non-for-profit organisation to fulfil his personal aspirations, regardless the consequences both for the employees and members of the organisation.

He called his ‘ambitious’ project ‘Embroiderers’ Guild move to Manchester’ and set to raise money for it. Partially, money had been raised by donations from the Guild’s members and other industry related organisations, and partially, by receiving a grant from the Art Council. All in all, one million pounds. But guess what? The move never happened. Instead, what happened was the collapse of the Embroiders Guild — the money was gone, the Director too — before leaving, he erased all the information from his computer and destroyed some documents too, — half of the staff had to go, and the Guild any longer could not afford to pay rent at the Hampton Court Palace and had to move out into some other county, outside of London.

I left three years before these sad events occurred, for I could sense there was something very wrong with the ‘ambitious’ project of the Director. Before leaving, I warned the Executive Committee of my suspicions, but to no avail, the reason being they had chosen the Director themselves and did not want to admit the failure.

‘Who could have imagined he would do such a thing?’ — my ex-colleagues were exclaiming, pondering over the events. ‘He was so approachable, he embroidered, collected Portuguese tiles, and had such ‘kind’ round face, even looked a bit vulnerable in his not so fashionable spectacles…’ Oh, yes, indeed.

The conclusion: Some organisations and companies, especially the ones based on passion, care, and specific interest, are better left to be managed by ‘not-so-ambitious’ women, for out of place and context competitive male species can ruin it for everybody, members, clients, and employees alike.

More in the next post.

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Seraphima Bogomolova

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