Entrepreneurs reveal changing job trends

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Malcolm Watt: From marketing to restaurants

Malcolm Watt (above ) ditched a 20-year career in wines and spirits by parting company with Macallan-Glenlivet and his pounds 70,000-a-year job as marketing director and moving into the hotel business.

After deciding that the atmosphere at Macallan-Glenlivet was "not conducive with working together" he bought the financially strapped Bayview hotel and restaurant in Cullen, on the Moray Coast of Scotland, from the receivers.

Hotel and restaurant businesses went to the wall at an alarming rate of knots during the recession, and many a would-be entrepreneur has been rudely awakened to the financial nightmare of ploughing a redundancy cheque from one business into another that they know nothing about.

The learning curve for Mr Watt's new career has been steep, and he has discovered that the most menial tasks in the trade often fall upon the owner's shoulders. However, he said: "The reward comes in building something from scratch and moulding a cohesive team. The business is far more personal because I'm dealing with something I myself have made rather than with something I have inherited.

"The change is very, very difficult if you don't have a financial parachute. I was lucky because my contract with Macallan-Glenlivet gave me a certain amount of financial flexibility."

He tops up his finances by remaining in touch with his previous career through consultancy work. "This allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of the wines and spirits industry," he said.

Tony de Rivaz: From telecoms to techno-toys

Tony de Rivaz was pulling in pounds 65,000 a year from working in the corporate finance operation at Cable & Wireless until October 1995 when, amid severe cuts at the communications company, he decided to take voluntary redundancy to pursue a toy invention idea: Logiblocs, which are small electronic blocks that plug together.

Logiblocs were originally aimed at the under-10s but it seems that they hold the appeal of most toys for anyone between the ages of five and 90. The toys were launched at Harrods last month, and have already sold out.

The radical career change has appealed to Mr de Rivaz, because it has enabled him to indulge in his creative fantasies: "It is a hell of a lot of hard work. What makes it worthwhile is walking into a major store and coming away with an order.

"It's marvellous when people phone up and say, `This is just what I've been looking for'."

However, it is not all glamour. He has had to learn how to deal with the miles of red tape involved with running a small business, and overcome the personal difficulties arising from the cultural change of environment of working in a large company to being part of a very small team.

For example, the simple things such as having access to a photocopier - taken for granted at Cable & Wireless - suddenly becomes a problem. "But most of all, I miss all the office politics and, of course, the Christmas parties," he said.

Research by Ben Westwood