Monthly Archives: July 2007

A new boss has recently taken over at my office and he differs from the old one mainly in what he wears. The previous boss always wore a suit but this one is much more casual – he wears linen jackets and khaki trousers and has never been known to wear a tie. I’ve noticed that my team mates have stopped wearing ties too and are wearing chinos and open-necked shirts instead. I object to this as
a) they look terrible;
b) they are guilty of brown-nosing; and
c) my suits are expensive and I like wearing them.
So far I am sticking to my guns but increasingly  I feel that I stick out from the others. Does this matter?
Consultant, male, 30

I am a relatively senior woman in an investment bank. I enjoy my job despite the environment – there are some nasty people but some smart ones too. My job is creative, makes me think, involves lots of travel, time goes fast and I’m good at what I do. My goal is to do my job well and get enough money to pay back my mortgage and eventually move to the countryside to grow trees and watch them growing.

Recently, however, my managers have started to suggest that it’s not enough to excel in my job. I have been told that to do well I need to be involved in promoting the values of our bank. And the only way to do that is getting involved in extracurricular activities: charities committees, diversity groups, enviromental associations, and so on. I feel it is unfair to ask me to dedicate more hours of my time to all  this. I should be allowed to choose which charities I give my time to. In fact it should be up to me if I want to collapse in my sofa at the end of the day and do nothing. I deeply resent the fact that my masters have signed up to "corporate generosity" and I am required to join if I like it or not.

For now I need to pay my mortgage, and I don’t want to be sidelined. Is there any way I can seem to be contributing to the values of the institution without having to dedicate a single minute to it?

Investment banker, female, 37

I think my boss may be bipolar. He has two different modes: he’s either charging round, full of energy, making bold decisions or he’s paranoid, negative and bullying. In the “up” moods he’s stimulating, though it’s exhausting trying to keep up. The rest of the time he is paranoid and hostile. I’ve worked for him for two years and though I admire his talent and charisma I find his mood swings increasingly stressful. A couple of weeks ago I tried to broach the matter, but he looked as if he was about to have a coronary, so I shut up. Is there anything I can do? And if not, how can I insulate myself from the worst of his rages?

Investment banker, male, 36

I am 39 and have spent most of my working life in advertising, but last year I quit to pursue a long-standing dream and took post-graduate course in journalism.  I’m now working for a big media organisation as an intern (the oldest intern in the world!)

My problem is this.  Last week I was offered a senior, well-paid job in a prestigious advertising agency doing the kind of thing I used to do (though at a higher level).  The problem is that advertising is a draining and not very edifying industry to work in.  Yet, if I pursue the journalism I’ll continue to be a low-paid junior although I’ll feel better about saying what I do for a living.  I can’t help thinking I’m too old and not as sprightly and energetic as I once was to make a go of it as a journalist.

I’m worried that I’m reacting to a mid-life crisis by pursuing half-baked dreams. I’m fortunate to have a partner who has a well-paid job in the City, so a low income for me isn’t a disaster. I feel that following my heart will take me into journalism (and little money) while following my head will lead me into advertising. Can you help?

Dear Lucy

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Lucy Kellaway, FT columnist and associate editor, offers her solution to your workplace problems in a fortnightly column in the Financial Times. In this weekly online edition of her 'agony aunt' column, readers are invited to have a say too. Read more about Dear Lucy here.