Behind the scenes - the leap of faith into the contracting cauldron

thinking behind the scenes

With economic confidence on the rebound following the national elections in 2014, firms are now progressing with committed work programmes, which are resulting in an increase in requirements to flex their permanent work force in order to effectively resource these initiatives. With unemployment at record low levels, there has been a recent trend that is seeing a marked transition of permanent employees seeking contracting opportunities.

Previous Contractor Corner posts have discussed the benefits and pitfalls of contracting, as well as how to go about setting yourself up as a contractor. These have generated a lot of discussion and feedback.

This post takes a real candidate scenario to decipher what thinking processes are mobilised by a permanent employee when they proceed on a journey of transitioning to contracting.

David (not his real name) is a well-established and highly regarded enterprise Programme Management Office Manager for a large corporate. During his 10-year tenure, David has been responsible for onboarding a significant number of contractors to deliver large and complex work programmes. He has been intrigued by what motivates these individuals to pursue what David has considered a ‘highly risky endeavour’.

All this changed for David when he progressed his professional development plan in light of a recently announced restructure. David realised that his sense of security in his permanent role was indeed false as his role was targeted for disestablishment. David decided that it was time he challenged his comfort zone to look beyond the security of a permanent tenure.

While David is excited by the possibilities of exposure to a variety of firms and experiences that contracting presents, he is also acutely aware that he will have to sacrifice what for him is the genesis of a burgeoning career journey that could see him sitting in the corner Office of the CIO in the not too distant future.

What about his Professional Development?

He is aware that while his organisation fully supported and funded his continued professional development, he will now have to assume complete personal accountability to manage this. Any time spent learning and developing will now be at the expense of making that lucrative contracting dollar. Additionally he is concerned about his ability to navigate the continually changing workforce dynamics, and what will his career development and advancement be like whilst contracting? Will contracting give him a greater opportunity to be seen as a specialist in his area? To be successful as a contractor, he will need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to curate and grow his fledgling professional network that is fundamentally vital for his success.

Weighing up the Pros and Cons

David weighs up the pros and cons, he decides that even with the risks involved with contracting it is an exciting route to take and will continually present him with new challenges in a range of interesting environments. He decides to step into the world as a contractor and ultimately he can always go back to permanent employment further down the track.

Final words of advice

Nathan Bryant-Taukiri has touched on several of the matters that David considers in previous posts. It is important not to underestimate the logistics that underpin such transitions and you should not be afraid to seek professional help setting yourself up as a contractor. However, once you are established and have found your niche, I’m pretty confident that you will never look back!

I am interested to hear from those who are thinking of launching into this exciting journey and from those who may have already taken the leap of faith. Please share your stories, as they will make for some good reading for your peers who are considering making the switch to contracting.


Abinesh Krishan