“Periodically assess your career and ask probing questions”
May 18, 2017

Tony Brine, Partner


I’ll never forget hearing the line: “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.

Apparently, it was written by an American philosopher/abolitionist, but I’m a little embarrassed to say that I heard it first in a Richard Gere movie. Nonetheless, this line has always resonated with me on a deeply personal level.

Throughout my career, I’ve found myself in roles where I inevitably end up asking questions like “What next?”, “Is this it?” or “Should I be here next year?”. These questions have driven my career from a humble APS1 ‘Collector of Public Monies’ through to achieving my career goal of being a Partner at a professional service firm – twice!

While the questions have remained the same, my life and personal priorities have changed over the years. Each time, I have felt that sense of quiet desperation and I’ve asked myself those same questions again.

Last time I was in this situation, nearly four years ago, it resulted in me sitting in an interview room at Synergy.

I remember the interview well. A Synergy partner asked me, “What are you looking for?” and I calmly answered, “I don’t know”. Truthfully, I didn’t know then. What I know now, is that I wasn’t looking for different work, I was looking for a different way to work. I was desperate for a change that I couldn’t describe.

I’m happy to say that I have found that change. For me, the change was comprised of two key features.

Firstly, I now work in an environment where I am measured by my strengths, not my weaknesses. Let’s be honest – we all have weaknesses. While the professional ideal may be images of a person who can do everything – be a perfect technician, a great public speaker, an excellent manager of teams, a respected mentor, etc. – the truth is, people like this don’t exist. We all have strengths and weaknesses. But I have found Synergy to be a firm that values people based on who they are – rather than on a false image of perfection.

Secondly, I need to work in an environment as free from bureaucracy as possible. If a person should be promoted, it shouldn’t matter that there isn’t an approved vacancy at the next level. If a person deserves a pay rise, it shouldn’t have to wait till year end. If a person has earned a bonus, it shouldn’t be contingent on the performance of another division or office. I’ve found Synergy to be a fluid environment where every person has the capacity and opportunity to change the firm.

At the end of the day, these are my experiences. Career pathways are typically unique and I’m sure what works for me, may not work for the next person. However, I think it is healthy to periodically assess your career with some probing questions as your needs and priorities will change over time.

If you find yourself experiencing ‘quiet desperation’, I’d love to hear from you. Perhaps Synergy can offer you the same sense of fulfillment that it has provided me.