Looking Back, Looking Ahead

At the start of a new year, I’d like to share with you some highlights from 2014 and provide a preview of 2015, for Freelance Total Rewards, my freelance consulting and training business in Singapore, helping clients in the areas of global total rewards. Here’s the story.

Coming into 2014

To appreciate how good 2014 was, you need to start with 2013, when I began this journey. You see, 2013 was my toughest year ever, work-wise. Briefly, 2013 began with me being recently laid off by Mercer, along with several other senior people, because Mercer was–according to the explanation given–moving toward a product focus. It no longer needed expensive consultants. (Two years later, you now see Mercer has pushed out a couple dozen of the brightest consultants, what we call “thought leaders”, leaving behind those who better fit the new product-focused business model.) Jobless, I spent 2013 looking for work–any work–related to total rewards or mobility. I lived in a small shared apartment, with only about 12 square metres of my own. I earned a little money delivering training for WorldatWork, :SNEF and Human Capital Singapore. A new training firm called Beyond360 also took a chance on me and we delivered some successful courses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

By this time last year, my 2013 full year income had reached roughly two month’s (one-sixth) my old annual salary at Mercer. But importantly, I believed in myself and during 2013, I registered my business as Freelance Total Rewards Pte Ltd, created this blog/website and invested in my personal development by undertaking an Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment. I figured that what ever my future held, training was something I was good at, because I have learned quite a bit since I began doing rewards work in 1985 and managing expat assignments since 1992. What I needed were a deeper understanding of adult learning principles, courseware design and delivery skills.

2014 Changed Everything

Things got better fast once the calendar turned into 2014.

At the start of 2014, I had some exciting training opportunities, but it wasn’t enough. I needed more steady income. I was exploring a job opportunity with NXP Semiconductor and was waiting for a phone call. But Hay Group (Singapore) had reached out to me first, offering some collaboration around mobility and training. They offered a retainer relationship, providing the stability I needed to remain independent, and I had other work coming in through SNEF (Singapore National Employers Federation) and I also had two large consulting opportunities in the pipeline. NXP called and said they wanted me, but they faced a headcount restriction and were not able to offer me a full-time role, so they offered a six-month contract. I declined because it would have required me to give up my consulting opportunities and most of my training income, with no guarantees after six months. So instead, I agreed to work three days per week with NXP Semiconductor as their Asia Director of Rewards, on a renewable, fixed-term basis, i.e. a retainer basis. At this point, having two retainer arrangements, I took myself off the job market.

2014 quickly developed into a very busy, very productive year. First, 2014 was a big year for training. I had invested $5,000 in my ACTA certification. In 2014, I earned over $90,000 from training (not counting a lot of training done under the NXP retainer, worth another $25,000 if billed separately.) I had seven training clients. I delivered the equivalent of 56 full days of training, helping 400 HR/C&B professionals and 375 people managers (from CEOs to line supervisors) improve their knowledge and skills relating to total rewards or global talent mobility.

In addition to training and my retainer relationships, some consulting opportunities materialized in 2014, with projects in the areas of mobility policy development, total rewards benchmarking and base pay program development.

Looking Ahead to 2015 and Beyond

Coming into 2015, opportunities are great. I hope to continue working with NXP Semiconductor under the current arrangement (it’s my “corporate thing” that keeps me sharp and connected to the real world…). I also have other exciting opportunities lined up. while I cannot disclose too much, I can say this is looking like the year in which my value proposition extends far beyond just myself. I have some exciting developments and initiatives in the works involving other firms, partners, affiliates, and others, which will greatly increase the value I can give to clients. More on this later!

Have a great 2015!


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