It occurred to me this morning that I missed a personal milestone at the end of October in that it was the 25th anniversary of me accidentally stumbling into the world of ADR.
Back in 1995, as a fresher faced 25-year-old, I moved with my wife to be from Hull to Essex. I was working in the Benefits Agency HQ in Leeds at the time and got a civil service transfer to what is now the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – the body in the news at the moment with responsibility for passing any COVID-19 vaccines for use in the UK.
Within three months I had noticed a job advert in the Evening Standard for a role at The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. It was paying almost double what I was getting in my civil service post (a whopping £16,000 per year) and I went for it. I was interviewed by David Griffiths, now of St Phillips Chambers and then the Deputy Director General of the CIArb, and he gave me a job in the Arbitration Department as an arbitration case administrator. Under David, Kerry Harding, Dair Farrah Hockley and later the late Alan Connarty, I spent the next 13 years creating (inventing?) new roles and at my departure in 2007 I was Director at the CIArb’s commercial subsidiary, IDRS Ltd.
My next journey took me to CEDR, working alongside mediation heavyweights like Karl Mackie and Eileen Carrol, initially as an Associate Director for Client Relations. Before long I was the Director for CEDR Solve and then CEDR’s first Global Group Director for Dispute Resolution, following its acquisition of IDRS Ltd from the CIArb. I enjoyed six years at CEDR before I felt I needed a new challenge which took me to Ombudsman Services for 18 months as their Director of Business Development.
Then came Hunt ADR. Started in April 2016, we are now almost five years in, offering mediation, arbitration and adjudication services and training mediators.
It has been a fascinating ‘accidental’ journey into ADR for me. It has taken me to 23 countries, to embassies and palaces and I have been to places and met people I never would have dreamed of meeting. With the support of my amazing wife (herself now an experienced proof reader of domestic and international arbitration awards), and the reason I moved south in the first place, I have seen my children get to an age (20, 16 & 16) where they themselves have an interest in ADR, and mediation in particular.
Like anything in life, it has been 25 years with lots of ups and lots of downs, but as a career choice I am glad it was one I grasped and I look forward to the next 25 years with excitement.