One of my mentors died today.
I first got to know Brian back in 2001. It came from one of those rare occasions when an unsolicited piece of direct marketing fell onto my desk at a serendipitous time. It was advertising an Internal Consulting training course at Techniques for Change.
I had been working for the BBC Worldwide for about four years, and my role was starting to become more and more about helping people in the business, rather than managing technology (a sign of things to come).
The course, which Brian ran, opened my eyes to a whole load of approaches to my work that I just hadn’t considered before. But it was Brian that made the biggest impression. He was one of those rare people that, when you talked to him, made you feel better about yourself. It was that that I am certain had made him successful in his business at TFC.
After the course we kept in touch. We sent some colleagues onto that and other courses at TFC, and also used him to facilitate some sessions within the teams at Worldwide. In 2004, I got a call from Brian asking if I would like to come along to watch one of the England Euro Championship games (on TV) at Stamford Bridge at an event run by the IoD. Free lunch, and the opportunity to do a bit of networking.
After lunch, and the game (during which he a Scot, I with my Irish allegiances, kept sniping sarcastically throughout) we continued at a pub around the corner from the ground. We talked about what was happening in my career, and I told him how I felt I had reached a dead end with my time at the Beeb, but also felt in need of a break from the IT industry in which I had worked since graduating. His response? “Come and work for us.”
We discussed it over the next few months, and, in August, I made the choice to the make the leap. A new path in my career, and one that I was extremely excited by.
I started work at TFC in January 2005, and it was a baptism of fire. Undoubtedly, it was the hardest work of my career to date – travelling the country, facilitating new groups every few days, and having to learn on the hoof most of the time. Sadly, soon after I joined, Brian was diagnosed with cancer. His illness meant he was around for little of the time that I was at TFC, and when he returned to work in 2006 it was in a part-time capacity.
For one reason or another, I only saw Brian a handful of times in the years since I left TFC. Early this week I got a call from my former colleague Sean to say that his illness had reoccurred, and Brian had only days to live. This afternoon he passed away.
I will always be grateful to Brian for the way in which he helped to develop me professionally, and the trust he showed in my abilities in giving me the job at TFC.
He’ll be missed by a great many.