In case you hadn’t heard, my position as CEO of the IHLS Group ended – rather abruptly, it has to be said – a few weeks ago. After 26 years in the role this represents a profound change, both for me and for most of the IHLS team. The reasons behind the change are many and various; suffice it to say that my business partners and I have had serious differences of opinion for some time about how we should deal with present challenges, and the sort of route we should take going forward. They eventually decided that they would better be able to push ahead with their own agenda without me – which makes perfect sense. Time will tell if their decision pays off.
This unforeseen change caused ripples which stretched way beyond my immediate circle. Dozens of people from all over the world have sent messages expressing their sense of shock and incomprehension. One of the most memorable said “It’s as if they’d decided to take the Eiffel Tower away from Paris”. (I assume the author wasn’t simply referring to my height.) I’m truly grateful for all the support. I’ve even had a couple of tentative job offers!
Which brings me rather neatly to my next point. What do I do now? Well, Plan A is to try to negotiate a share swap with my partners so I get to keep some of the companies in the group and they keep the rest. That would leave everybody with something to work on. I could then set about expanding my own group of companies. But this sort of negotiation is easier said than done. While I have no interest in holding a minority stake in a group of companies that I’m not able to influence, my partners may have no interest in dividing the group, for all sorts of reasons.
Plan B is to start again, either alone, or with other partners. People ask: “But don’t you want to retire? Do you really need the hassle of starting another business?” My answer is simple: I love doing all sorts of things – travelling, gardening, reading, watching sport, playing music – but these are never going to be more than hobbies. I seem to have been genetically programmed to start and manage businesses in the field of international education. That’s what I do. And to a certain extent, what you do (and how you do it) defines who you are.
Watch this space.