I am head of HR in a business with 280 people and had always got on well with my HR director before she quit last year to set up her own consultancy advising local SMEs. Things seem to be going well for her and now she has asked if I want to work for her as her first employee. I feel stuck in a rut here, particularly because I didn’t get her job when I applied for it, and the idea of working with lots of different businesses appeals to me. But am I doing my career harm by quitting a well-known business for not much more money, and is it wise to work for just one person? I like and respect my ex-boss but what if we don’t get on when it’s just the two of us?
Maybe I’m biased because I once left the corporate world to set up my own HR consultancy, but this sounds like a rewarding opportunity and one you should seriously consider taking, particularly if you’re unhappy where you are. Your former boss has placed a lot of trust in you, because that first hire is absolutely vital and you should take that as a major validation of your skills.
Your relationship is obviously working, but it will be tested in the new environment – particularly when things aren’t going well. Set out some ground rules on how you will be involved and how you will communicate, and ask about how financially secure her new company is.
It will be a culture shock, particularly as you won’t have the usual support functions in place, but it certainly won’t damage your career. Taking the opportunity to work with different organisations and make your mark across different disciplines will be seen as a positive and I’ve seen plenty of people go back into the corporate world enriched by the experience.