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My best ever summer in banking: on gardening leave

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Get away from your desk

If you’ve got another job to go to and you’re thinking of handing in your resignation in finance, you want to do it in May or June. – While the weather’s hot and the beach is calling. There’s no better way of getting a full three to six months of paid leave from your job in banking.

Personally, I had one of my best ever summers on gardening leave. It was 2006, and I’d just been bid from Lehman Brothers to Goldman Sachs. In those days, gardening leave only lasted one month and there I was with the whole of June off. I’d also gotten divorced in April 2006, so I was free in more ways than one. New life, new apartment, new job and 30 days to relax.

Here’s how I spent my time.

For the first two weeks I decided to head to where I’m from. It’s a little emerging market country. I saw my grandmother, saw my parents, basically did nothing but see family. While I was there, my mom got me on to some dating website!! She said, “Son you’re already 29, you better find a girl quick”. So she sat behind for an hour while I wrote my profile. Talk about stress. That was probably harder than any pitch book I ever made.

Wanna know the good news?…..I ended up lining up a bunch of dates for when I got back to the city. When I rolled back into town, I was double booked on every night and had a ball. Luckily, one of the girls I met on that week of dating ended up being my wife and mother of my kids! Thanks to my gardening leave (and my mother).

But the fun didn’t stop there.

After about a week of dating, I was getting a little tired. A friend told me to “Go West”.

I booked a little trip to Utah, Arizona and Nevada. There I was driving from city to city, hiking during the day and meeting new people at night. I hope my wife doesn’t realize it, but that was my best holiday ever. No one to answer to, nothing to organize, just me and the open road. I went to all the great sites: Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park. America is a beautiful country.

When I got back from that a week later and ten shades darker, my new job was waiting for me. You know what….That was the last time I really relaxed and let go. It was one of the only times in my adult life tht I didn’t look at my phone every five mins.

So, do it. Resign in time for the summer! Take some time out. Gardening leave is one of the best things about changing jobs in banking. Now that I’m thinking I should go on gardening leave again!

The author is a former Goldman Sachs managing director and blogger at the site What I Learnt on Wall Street.


Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com

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