What was it like not to be in recession?

What was it like not to be in recession?

Postby Rob_H » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:29 am

So I've just finished the first year of my career, a good career in analytics for businesses etc., but started on a lower-than-i-had-expected-when-younger wage, and just got given a very measly pay increase. I imagine this is due to the subdued state of the economy, as well as of my specific sector (advertising).
So anyone got any stories of what it was like getting promoted back in boom times? Were they heady days?
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Re: What was it like not to be in recession?

Postby Ottawa_resident » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:17 pm

An offer of a job promotion in the 1980s was the moment when Roger McKechnie step­ped off the corporate ladder. He turned down the role of marketing manager at Smiths Crisps because he did not want to leave his lifestyle and friends in his native north-east England for the south.

However, faced with the bleak economic realities of his home region in the Thatcher era – “the north-east was totally decimated” – he realised that searching for another job was futile. So he would have to be self-employed, and develop a career based on his creativity and people skills.

Others might not have taken the leap. After all, the tortilla chips idea had emerged when he worked at Associated Biscuits and a product tasting panel rejected the potential new snack – 90 per cent of the tasters gave it the thumbs-down.

“They didn’t realise who the 10 per cent were,” he chuckles. “[They] turned out to be affluent home entertainers, drinkers who lived in the south-east and shopped at Waitrose.”

He followed his instincts. “If you get a good idea, go for it and bash on,” he says, speaking in the no-frills business unit that houses his current venture, Tanfield Food Company. Indeed, following his intuition has made him one of the most successful entrepreneurs in a region where historical dependence on big, heavy-industry workplaces and “jobs for life” created an employee mindset.
Ultimately, tortilla chips made Mr McKechnie’s reputation and fortune. In 1982, he remortgaged the family home and invested £50,000 in Derwent Valley Foods, making snacks for adults. His wife did not mind, he says: “I was so excited about doing it, I didn’t consider failure.” The McKechnies have also brought up nine children, six of their own and three relatives, following a bereavement.

The tortilla chips, along with other exotic-sounding nibbles such as “mig­nons morceaux”, and their eye-catching packaging made quite an impact in the 1980s in a dreary crisps and Twiglets market. The brand was en­hanced by memorable television advertisements based on Phileas Fogg, the character in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, which Mr McKechnie had read as a boy. The idea of Phileas Fogg came to him in a pub, after days of unsuccessful group brainstorming.

“Everybody laughed and said what a stupid tosser I am.” But he was convinced it would work.

The joke was that Phileas Fogg’s “authentic” exotic snacks emanated from DVF’s base in unglamorous Medomsley Road, Consett. The private irony was that this “around the world in 80 days” promotion was devised by somebody whose career has been resolutely rooted in his home region.
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