We talk to Fiona Ibbetson who left the corporate world to have more quality time with her children while still pursuing a fulfilling career. Fiona is now RD of Get Ahead Leeds and Get Ahead York and Harrogate.
What was your job before you joined Get Ahead?
I worked for one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, in project management and supply chain management roles.
What made you consider leaving the corporate world?
A Facebook “memory” showed me a picture of my daughter from a year ago. I noticed how much she’d changed in that time, and also realised that I didn’t know how that had happened. It was my reality check – I felt like I’d not been spending enough time with my children and it was time to put that right.
However, I also enjoyed the challenges of my career and didn’t want to abandon all the progress I’d made.
This epiphany happened towards the end of the school year in 2017, so I decided to give notice at work and spend the summer holiday with my family. When school started again, I started seriously researching alternatives to a career in the corporate world, and by January 2018, I’d made my decision to join Get Ahead.
What appealed to you about Get Ahead?
Get Ahead gave me the flexibility to spend time with my family, but it also allowed me to continue my project management career. I saw the opportunities of managing my own team at Get Ahead Leeds, and the job satisfaction of delivering great results for my clients. I could do this without sacrificing the level of responsibility I had in my corporate role, and I would benefit from the additional freedom to choose my own hours and priorities.
Had I stayed in the corporate world, my responsibilities would have increased. However, the scalability of the Get Ahead model meant that I wouldn’t have to give up that aspect of career development, just because I wanted to leave the corporate world and buy a franchise instead.
Talking to the Get Ahead team at the Birmingham Flexpo, I particularly liked how open to ideas they all were. I felt quite excited about being able to contribute to the business’s way of working and strategic direction. It had been a small part of my role when I worked for a corporation, but it would be a bigger responsibility with Get Ahead.
How does reality compare with your expectations?
Joining Get Ahead has been a great success for me. I’ve been able to retain many of the aspects of corporate roles that I enjoyed, and still work within a supportive team. As a franchisee, I received training at the start of my Get Ahead journey, and also benefit from other training and development opportunities Get Ahead provides. In addition, I’ve expanded my part of the business and I now head up Get Ahead York and Harrogate as well as Get Ahead Leeds.
I love how quickly we can put new initiatives in place! In my old job, I was sometimes frustrated by how long any new idea took to implement. But at Get Ahead, we can make decisions promptly and confidently, knowing they’re backed by a strong brand and clear direction.
Best of all, I’m at home when my children are, watching them grow and really being part of their lives. I’ve done the walk to school every morning and been at home every afternoon when they get in. I’ve seen a change in their behaviour (for the better!) and I’m proud to be giving them a consistent home life instead of a complicated childcare rota. My children are growing up to be really lovely people, and I know that for a fact because I get to spend quality time with them.
Working in the corporate world was my normality, and it seemed like the right path until I realised it wasn’t. However, moving away from it was easier than I thought it would be, and well worth it for the balance it has brought to my life.