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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Thursday, 01 January 2009

Greetings,

You have heard it everywhere so I might as well repeat the same message – 2008 has been pretty challenging for most – for various reasons. Firstly, this Global Financial Crisis (that some term as “Credit Crunch”) – luckily I have been sheltered from the big impact of this – as didn’t have significant loans or debts – savings mainly - and only just recently undertook my biggest move of my life and took out a mortgage for my new home (more on this later). Lets breakdown a few areas of focus during 2008

Work:
I have been keeping my head down, keeping busy – and trying to have some fun too! It hasn’t been easy. Work hasn’t really been that enjoyable during the early part of the 2008 – as I kept thinking I was never going to get my promotion that I felt I richly deserved (said by others!) But in March 2008, I was successful in attaining this – and my band level, title and money all changed for the better! I felt a lot better after this though I was trying to be realistic to myself stating that the work itself and role wouldn’t really change that much. Same crap but more money!

This is true to some extent, as the projects I was leading at the start of 2008 stayed with me to closure. However, I am meant to be and act more strategic in my thinking (mentality) and my actions – but I still think I need coaching and support to get me there (to the level expected of me!)! I need the support of my peers, friends and family as now doubt the tough journey starts now!

I’m still kinda enjoying the work – though it has had is moments this year and recently where I have not had much motivation. I have lost sight a little bit in where I want to go with my career – though with the issues affecting the AXP Corporation, I just need to keep going – as I know my job is at risk like a lot of other people.

On this point, AXP Inc. announced in October that there would be a wave of lay-offs – 10% of the global workforce – that’s 7,000 people – yes 7,000! The Corporation although remaining profitable has also experienced challenging conditions – mainly in our Proprietary Card businesses in the US and International – and the squeeze is being felt throughout. Although initially safe, the GNS Division was advised that it has to reduce 10% of its head-count too – ouch and this is also reflected in my immediate team. We will find out in mid-January how many people and at what levels (i.e. who is at risk). This is a concern to end 2008 and going into the start of 2009.

Work Secondment:
I was fortunate to experience another amazing opportunity starting from 1st Sept – using my experiences gained during my Greek Work Assignment – on the Loyalty field; I was given the chance to stay in Riga, Latvia for 8 weeks working for Parex Banka Group. It was an amazing experience – although it was a very challenging time and I needed the support of my colleagues and Directors to help me through it. I found this one tougher than the Greek experience for some reason – but I can’t seem to put my finger on why! Maybe because it was the end part of the year – or because I was generally thinking deeper into what I want to and where I want to go at the time?

Anyway, although the opportunity to finish the project was available to me – but undertaken remotely (from the UK), the project hit a huge major obstacle – that caused when there was a run on Parex Bank in Latvia – resulting in the Bank being semi-Nationalised by the Latvian Government in November. What a shock – especially as I had gotten to know a lot of people in the Bank – and those that might be a risk if the bank did go bankrupt. I hope it doesn’t!

This really was the focus during Q4 2008, as in December, I decided to take a 3-week break – taking advantage of a great BA flight offer that required me to depart by 8th December!

New Home:
The biggest achievement of my life was that I managed to get my offer accepted for a house-purchase in late November. A great way to end the year and before I started my holiday. I managed to get a mortgage sorted too with Nationwide – as I had quite a bit of deposit to put down, there was no issue in the terms of getting a mortgage!

Family:
Not much has changed really – father is still getting used to retirement, and travelling a bit to Italy and Switzerland to see friends and family. I actually visited Milan again this year – the first time for over 8 years – wow!

My mother is nearing retirement – March 2009 – and I wanted her to have a relaxing holiday to support this achievement too, so went with her to Hong Kong. She is a great mentor to help me sort out my house and all of the bits and bobs that go along with it! Thanks mum!

I have let Kieren down a wee bit during 2008 – I don’t think I’ve been there for him during the good or bad times. He was made redundant with his part-time job in Gatwick this year, when Aviance terminated their Gatwick operations in May. He remains with his other work at Edwards Group – working in the Sales and Marketing department. He seems to be enjoying it – though I do believe this is a stark change to what he was probably doing in terms of what he had studied at college and University. I hope he settles down and focuses on the role to see what areas of development or training he needs to support him further.

In closure, it’s a very different year than the previous ones. I’ve had a few highs along the way, but finishing 2008 has created mixed emotions. Happy to see the back of it, but also looking forward for the challenges of 2009 and beyond. However, my main concern is the thought-provoking “where do I want to be” and “what do I want to be doing” questions I started asking myself towards the end of the year. Still not sure on this! Any thoughts?

Anyway, lets try to remain cheerful at the end of a turbulent year. May I wish one and all my best wishes for the festive season and I do hope some light comes from the end of the tunnel during 2009! Can only get better right? 


Aaron

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