Where it all began

Last night I walked past Century House in St Peters Square Manchester on my way to dinner and the game.

I arrived here for my first day at work in September 1970, just a few days before my 16th birthday.

It amazes me how fate can affect our lives.

There were two school leavers starting with Friends Provident and Century Group that day, myself and Steve Higham (who I had never met before but who became a good friend).

We sat in the main office, nervous and on unfamiliar territory, until the assistant branch manager Mr Radband, greeted us both with the formality that prevailed “in those days”.

Our first instruction was to take a look at the light over the branch manager’s door – a single bulb.

“If that bulb is red, you do not enter Mr Stewart’s office under any circumstances. If the light is green, you knock and wait to be called to enter.”

Second instruction.

“You will always wear a jacket and tie. If it becomes necessary, I will issue an instruction that allows you to remove your jacket and/or loosen your tie – it happens very rarely.”

Third instruction.

“Mr Barrow, you have Maths “O”-level, so you will be working in the life assurance department. Mr Higham, you do not – so you will be working in the motor insurance department.“

Steve walks across the ground floor to meet his new department head – Les – and commence a lifelong friendship.

I walk upstairs to be introduced to my department head, Barry Jones – and commence a lifelong friendship.

For the next three years my desk is situated by the second window from the left on the first floor.

I spend 7 happy years working with Friends Provident.

I invest overall 23 years in financial services and learn the skills that enable me as a business coach.

Steve Higham eventually graduates as a loss adjuster and now runs his own successful business in Manchester.

A moment of truth – two paths diverge and careers/people are directed as a result.

I assume that Mr Radband passed away long ago – and never knew just how many lives he affected with that decision one Monday morning – a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.