SLIDING DOORS LEAD TO THE CAMINO!! The Matt and Glenyce story…

 


It was pure coincidence that I ended up attending a business breakfast in Geelong on a cold autumn morning in 2012. I was surprised to see that my old boss, and good friend, Glenyce Johnson (currently Co-founder - Wandering the World) was the keynote speaker at the event. We worked together at Peregrine Adventures between 1998 and 2005. 


Although we had kept in touch through parties, reunions and Facebook we hadn’t really seen each other as much as we use to since I left Melbourne years earlier so I was delighted and more than happy to take my colleague’s place at the event who was a last minute apology.
 
Glenyce was the Managing Director of Peregrine Adventures at the time of this function, and I was getting a kick out of hearing the stories and seeing pictures of the destinations that were a regular part of my working day during my seven year history when the story took an unexpected turn.

The topic of the presentation was about the importance of company culture and recruiting not only on skills and qualifications, but also on motivation and attitude. The story was starting to sound strangely familiar – it was about a time, many years ago – when Glenyce, then Finance Manager, had to recruit a staff member to work in her accounts team. At the same time the company had decided on a restructure, which required less staff in the domestic department. Glenyce was aware that there was a young guy’s position being made redundant that he was going to lose his job unless an alternate could be found. She liked this guy’s attitude and enthusiasm, and although he didn’t have a finance background, she really wanted to give him a go as she felt he would make a considerable contribution to the cultural fit of the department and the company and her instinct was he had a lot of unrecognised potential. She spoke about how this person went on to win several Staff Member of the Year awards and eventually developed into a HR/Payroll position, which helped him build a successful career in HR Management, that is continuing to this day. 

It was about half way through this story that it dawned on me that not only was the story familiar, I was the subject of the talk.

That in itself would have sufficed to be counted as ‘a very unusual Tuesday morning in Geelong’ but there was more to come. As per most business events there was the obligatory bucket at the front door for participants to drop their business cards on the way into the event. The prize was a good one, a $1000 voucher to use towards a Peregrine Adventures trip anywhere in their network. I’ll never forget the look of astonishment and surprise on Glenyce’s face when she pulled out a business card with a very familiar name! Turning to the microphone she announced in a shocked voice “You’re not going to believe this – I wasn’t going to share that the young man who was the subject to of today’s talk is not only from Geelong – he’s in this room – and he’s just won the prize!”

I can’t actually remember walking up to the stage to collect the voucher but I managed to do so without falling over and made my way back to my seat. I was with my boss at the time who asked me whether it was a joke or a set up. It absolutely wasn’t! 

One of the questions someone asked Glenyce was which trip or country was she most excited about and looking forward to the most. She mentioned a special trip she was undertaking the following year on the Camino de Santiago where she was hosting two weeks of her 42-day pilgrimage with her partner Dawn which was being promoted as a Peregrine Adventures trip in the 2013 brochure.

After the event I went straight out to the car to tell my wife what had just happened and when she asked what I was going to do with the voucher I said that I need to join Glenyce and Dawn on the Camino in Spain. I hadn’t even heard of the Camino before that morning but it just felt like the right thing to do. 

This is more than just a great ‘sliding doors’ story that began in the late 90s – it represents the start of a journey and a most pivotal time in my life. It’s a story of belief, faith and trust. What would have happened if Glenyce hadn’t taken a chance on a young guy from the former ballooning and rafting department? What would have happened if I turned my nose up to a job in an accounts department and took the redundancy package?

How often do we get to acknowledge the people that truly make a difference in your life? Through a 12 year Human Resources career that has been highlighted by the development and implementation of leadership programs that specifically focus on emerging leaders, I’ve never forgotten the time when someone, who I didn’t know very well at the time, took a chance and gave me a shot. 

It’s amazing how we never forget our mentors. There’s been countless times when facing challenging personnel decisions as the Head of Human Resources that I’ve asked myself “what would Glenyce do?”

Matt and Glenyce would like to invite you to join them as they continue their journey on a very special trip that combines their love of travel and leadership development on the Camino de Santiago in July 2019.
 

 


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