Coping with redundancy: Contractor
Published: 01 Jun 2009
John Eynon (pictured, right) was made redundant twice in 1991, first from Forum Architects, when it closed its London office, and then from William McKay Lewis. After briefly setting up a practice with a friend, he found himself working for Wandsworth council.
"That was the lowest point in my working life, chasing up charges owed on council-owned properties. It had nothing to do with architecture and I was conscious that every day I was there, I was further and further from getting back into practice. I remember thinking: 'Am I ever going to get out of here?'
But that was all put into perspective a couple of years later. My wife had two bouts of cancer and I dropped her off at the hospital not knowing if I would be a single parent with three young kids at the end of the day. Those sorts of moments come into your life and they align your perspective.
I did get out of there, after six months, into RIBA’s information services business and after two years there, someone I had worked with approached me to see if I wanted to go to Tarmac Building as a design manager. Design managers were a new idea back then and Tarmac was leading the way. For an architect, it’s definitely crossing a line to go and work for a contractor. But I had worked on site and knew I enjoyed that side of the business, but also knew that after years out and no CAD skills I would find it hard to get back into practice.
I’ve never regretted that decision because now I see so much more of the building process. At Wates, I’m proposals manager working with the pre-construction team – it’s creative and it’s challenging. And I work with some great people on some great projects.
My advice to anyone who finds themselves out of a job is: don’t give up, just keep looking. Make the most of the hand that you have been dealt. However hard it seems, there are always opportunities, even if they’re things you would never normally consider.