Jill Littlejohn, one of our franchisees in the UK, took some time to give us her point of view…
” I had spent 30 years in HR; primarily in Talent Assessment, Development and Learning, helping people to develop their careers. So executive selection and coaching was something I have always been incredibly passionate about, recruiting the right person for the right role has always been very satisfying for me. Within Marks & Spencer and Johnson & Johnson, I had climbed the corporate ladder and scaled the dizzy heights of success in corporate life way beyond my expectations. Of course, having a global responsibility meant global travel, which is a lot of fun; I saw much of the world I would never have seen. However this busy schedule meant I had to become very adept at juggling my work and home life to make sure I spent time with my kids.
But, what I realised it hadn’t given me was much ME time, time to have fun !!! So here I was 50 years old, my two children grown up and flown the nest, with a job so demanding of my time, that I was spending 50% of my life working outside of the UK. I was meeting the demands of my company and my boss, but neglecting me. I realised that this WAS MY TIME, my time to do the things that were important to me.
Then I started to consider my options and in doing this I realised there was a life outside of the corporate world and that I had a CHOICE . . . . I could work and have a QUALITY of life, also building a business to be what I wanted it to be, whilst at the same time achieving autonomy and control in my business.
I looked at 5 UK based franchise concepts that enabled me to organise my day to suit me. The five franchises were consultative, home office/small office based businesses.
Antal International was the business I decided on during my three month investigation. For me it was a natural choice as Executive Recruitment is a big part of HR and talent management, so it was a good way to leverage my experience. At the same time it allowed me to continue networking with the big corporate bluechips, that I was accustomed to working with, but on my own terms, as my clients. It also meant I could help people reach their full potential by coaching them through their next career moves – a natural extension of my passion.
I have advised many business leaders of the importance of a diverse workforce and the business advantages such diversity brings. I was quite surprised when I joined Antal to find that I am one of just three female franchisees in the UK. In my experience women naturally tend to thrive in such businesses where human relationships are paramount.
When you have dedicated your life and career to pursuing corporate challenges and meeting the agenda of your employer, it can take time and courage to take a step back and re-evaluate what you really want. It would have been easy to stay in the corporate world and take the pension. However I made the choice to build my own business and be my own boss, my life has changed dramatically. I now have a life; I can exercise regularly, walk the dog daily, and even sing in a rock choir with some friends weekly. I have the work life balance that I really wanted!
My advice for potential female franchisees is to Go for it, Plan, Focus & Stick with it!! You will still work hard . . . . but you can work differently. This is an example of how you can make your business work for you.”