A different perspective

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been on the move. The lease on my Soviet-era flat in Primorskaya ran out, and I’ve moved into a new studio apartment right in the centre of historic St. Petersburg. The availability didn’t quite match, so I had to spend a couple of weeks living out of my suitcases in a temporary apartment in Dekabrovista Ulitsa, just around the corner from St. Isaac’s Cathedral. This is one reason why I haven’t posted any updates for a while – but not the only one! I’ve been setting up some online learning systems, and listening to what my students would like the world to know about their country…

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Arrival in Russia

Things got weird almost from the beginning. As I was settling into my seat on the plane, the message came over the tannoy: “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome aboard British Airways flight 878 to Leningrad”.

Leningrad??? Had I fallen into a timewarp? It wasn’t a one-off either; the same message was repeated shortly afterwards. I asked one of the cabin crew about it; she denied any knowledge of it…

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Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, "As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison

My first real understanding of Nelson Mandela’s importance was due to his absence.

It was in 1988, and I was in Johannesburg Central Train Station, having come down to South Africa from my job high in the mountains of Lesotho. In the deep valley where I was living and working, there was no TV or radio reception, so we were starved of news from the outside world. Whenever I got a period of leave, I would devour Time and Newsweek to learn what was going on beyond the valley walls.

On this occasion, I’d hitch-hiked up the N1 motorway, and was staying in the YMCA a short walk away from the station. After dropping my rucksack off, I’d made straight for the newsagent in the station, and was examining Time. This edition happened to have a story about Nelson Mandela (perhaps this one?), which included a picture. Only, the picture was missing – there was just a hole in the page. Not understanding at first, I checked the other copies in the pile. In every one, the picture of Mandela had been neatly cut out.

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A new chapter

After three years at Swansea School of Management, I’m moving on. It’s been an eventful period of my life, and one with a lot of positive takeways. I’m pleased with the work I’ve done under challenging circumstances, and I’ve learned a great deal from my interactions with a diverse and interesting student body.

However, as I teach my students in my Strategic Management modules, the environment is always changing, and we have to change with it. The skill set that I’ve built up over the years is no longer appropriate to the new direction my role was taking; at the same time, the strategic direction that the organisation has chosen wouldn’t help me achieve my personal or career goals.

Taking the decision to leave wasn’t easy. Contracts for lecturers require a full term’s notice, which at best means around three months. Since I was leaving the Higher Education sector, this was a problem. I interviewed with a few potential employers who were interested – but the three-month wait was a deal-breaker. In the end, I had to jump without a parachute, and hope that something would turn up…

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