In this series, we speak to Xenomorph employees and ask them to share their experience of lockdown, how it has impacted their day-to-day lives and if they have any tips or recommendations for their colleagues. Today’s conversation is with Xenomorph sales director Gary Owen in London.
Xeno: Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Xenomorph?
Gary: I have worked my entire working life in and around the financial services industry. In fact 15th October will see me celebrate 36 years of starting work for Daiwa Europe, as it was then. I spent 14 years working in investment banking before heading over to a software vendor and have been in sales and account management ever since.
I joined Xenomorph in January 2020 to bring my experience to the sales and account management team. At the time, COVID was just an epidemic as opposed to a pandemic, and I travelled to meet some of our great clients across Europe, building plans for regular calls and frequent visits. How quickly all this changed!
Xeno: How has the lockdown changed your day-to-day routine?
Gary: I think, like everyone, the working from home (WFH) situation was a novelty at first. Not having to get up at 05:50 Monday to Friday was a blessed relief. However, without the travel, I found that my day was really eat, sleep, work, repeat, and that horrible 1.5 hours each way commute, was actually a good thing as it had provided me with a break in the routine. A chance to read The Metro or a book. Catch up on some Netflix series my wife would never watch. Basically 3 hours a day when I do not think of work.
I was missing that so decided that my work day would finish as if I had a train to catch, and I would go to my garage and sit on my turbo trainer doing virtual rides with the aid of Zwift.com. I have rediscovered my love of cycling and started going out on the roads for the first time in years at the weekends.
Xeno: What aspect of the lockdown have you found hardest, either from a personal or professional perspective?
Gary: After the initial honeymoon period with regards to WFH, I started to really struggle mentally. I had a big breakdown back in 2016 through simply not looking after my mental health for years. I spent a number of hours with a counsellor learning where I had been going wrong in the past. I started to recognize some of the same old patterns emerging whilst WFH, so decided the best thing was to take up some form of exercise; hence falling back in love with cycling. It has been a great source of comfort and when you’re out on the roads for 2-3 hours, you have a lot of time to put things back into perspective. I had to re-learn “being kind” to myself.
Xeno: Are there any tips that you would offer to colleagues and industry peers at this time?
Gary: My biggest tip would be to continue to work hard and hone your skills for your specific job, but please remember that your life is so much more important than your job. Be kind to yourself, cut yourself some slack if things go wrong. It is not always in your control. Look after the things you can control and be aware of those you can’t. Speak to people, someone you know or someone you don’t. Believe me it helps. You just don’t know how much until you do it. If I can be that someone for other people, then I am happy to do that.
Xeno: What positives can you take from this experience?
Gary: I have remembered that I am a better human being than I give myself credit for at times. I love riding a bike and have decided to take on a 1,083 mile virtual ride from Lands’ End to John O’Groats in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK. This will start on the 15th of October to coincide with my work anniversary and will take place throughout November, which is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. My VirginMoneyGiving link is here, as well as on the Xenomorph website and my LinkedIn profile. Progress reports will also be provided on both platforms as I make my way virtually up the country.