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Rodney's Ramblings: Transitions And Change

"...I have always remained a minimalist: expect little, make the most of everything and create what you really need,'' writes Rodney Gascoyne.

In these troubled times, we are undergoing a major paradigm shift. At the same time, I realize I have been prepared for this throughout my life. Born when I was, I have always remained a minimalist: expect little, make the most of everything and create what you really need. The main orientation, though, came from experiencing constant transitions and change: I always seemed to have been on the cusp of something new and deserting the old.

My childhood was spent in a London recovering from the devastation of World War 2: There was rationing and shortages of just about everything; an economy that took years to recover and get out from under the debt from earlier wars; a steadily increasing realization that the Empire was over and gone and that we must accept a lesser role and influence in the world; my schooling also saw change, my initial place gave me a partial 'real education', that teaches you to adapt, but then it received certification, so the staff had to become more qualified and professional, but somehow less effective; and, then my public school moved from an inner London suburb to the green fields of Hertfordshire, in my time, as it transformed into the top exam factory in the UK.

Each initial job was accompanied by being the end or beginning of an era. Starting in overseas banking, I saw 'Africanization' as heralding the end of a colonial system and hence no future. Next was something I knew would not last, but I wanted to experience all I could, while I could, as ocean liners and the Royal Mail service by ships throughout the Empire, would soon change, but I had had enough before it did. I returned ashore to train as a Chartered Accountant and by accident almost, fell in with the formation of one of the eight giant firms that started to dominate the profession worldwide.

I took a sabbatical after working for the first time in industry, when I became involved in community work in the North. This coincided with systematic changes to government structures, as well as education in particular, that led to a less caring attitude and smaller funding opportunities. Eventually I returned to professional life and industry, and married. The family moved, first just within England, but later emigrated to Western Canada, with an open minded, enthusiastic approach to change, that we always thought we could reverse, if we did not like it. We did and so we stayed. I also embraced a relatively new professional specialism, that of controls in, and auditing of IT.

During some of those moves, I worked with two other international accounting firms that each fell apart, soon after I had left, as their associations failed amid scandal or the loss of major clients. Even the two industrial companies in England are no more - both later disintegrated or became absorbed, as market conditions evolved and they did not. Another office decided to have a major fight with its main supporter and should not have been surprised when they were cut down to size. Even as a consultant for many years in Toronto, a number of my clients seemed later to transform into something less, or were caught in a transition they could not fully cope with.

Here in Calgary, I worked with a large, international company that has expanding rapidly, resulting in more than six fold growth within a few years, through many acquisitions, a few of which were obviously major and involved me in many aspects of integration and change.

There is no time to be bored, things change so fast, but then by now I am used to that, and should find it simple to adjust yet again, to the transitions of surrounding economic and financial crises. I was lucky to be constantly challenged to accept and work with many transitions.


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