In 2014, 53-year-old Richard Dale from Sussex took voluntary redundancy from his senior management role at a well-known energy company to become a field interviewer for the world’s leading data, insights, and consulting company research, Kantar Public.
Now 61, Richard is reaping the rewards of his career change. He spoke to us about his experience of achieving a healthy work-life balance and explained that by redirecting his career path, he was able to become part of a cause that he’s passionate about.
Urging other people not to settle for a working life that doesn’t make them happy, Richard says, “Whatever it is that you want to do, just do it. There are so many opportunities out there if you’re ready to take them.”
From senior manager to field interviewer
Richard worked for a popular energy company for 34 years, before leaving his role as a Senior Project Manager in 2014. He took voluntary redundancy and began searching for a new role, still unsure where it would take him.
He says, “I took a little time out and thought about what I wanted to do. During that time, I actually qualified as a private detective, but it didn’t seem like the right path for me, so I kept searching.
“I came across Kantar Public online and decided to apply. After a phone call, I went through the Kantar training programme and soon began doing interviews on people’s door stops as a Regional Field Interviewer and immediately I just absolutely loved it.”
“I wanted a change from my previous role”
As a Senior Manager in his previous role, Richard had been in charge of around 140 staff, and when changing careers, he was ready to let go of some of this pressure. A self-professed punk rocker at heart, in his spare time Richard loves to listen to music and enjoys collecting old vinyl records.
Richard explained that Kantar Public gave him the opportunity to turn his work into a positive addition to his life, rather than it being the focal point of it.
He says, “In my new role at Kantar Public I sort of became my own boss, and I was trusted to get on with the job. At my age I didn’t want to take on the full pressures that I’d had in my previous role. With Kantar, it felt as though I became more of a social worker really, doing something that I thoroughly enjoyed in a much more relaxed environment.
“In my starting role as a Regional Field Interviewer, I was working five days a week, but that’s because it suited me. Other people might prefer to do three or four days, or may only be able to commit to doing a couple of surveys.
Kantar Public offers the flexibility to be able to do a job that you enjoy while also having time for home life.
“When you’re out on the road you meet so many different types of people, from all walks of life - it’s amazing”
During his time as a Regional Field Interviewer, Richard surveyed people on their door steps for data that would be used for research, for various projects for the Office for National Statistics which informs key decision makers. This allowed him to connect with people across different communities – something he found to be especially fulfilling.
He explains, “When you’re out on the road, you meet so many different types of people from all walks of life – it’s amazing. Work can be really varied, there’s so many different things going on and no two days are the same.
“Especially during the summer, doing the job was lovely – getting a bit of fresh air and sunshine. Before Covid too, some people would invite you in for a cup of tea and a chat. Often it was pensioners who just wanted a bit of company for half an hour. The stories they would tell you were just wonderful and would really brighten your day.
“There really is so much opportunity at Kantar Public to do loads of different types of work – if you’re committed to doing it, it’s really great.”
“The only challenge is the weather. If it’s pouring down or freezing cold, you’ve still got to get out there, and be cheerful at the door!
“But that’s just like everything in life – things are rough and smooth now and again. But the good easily outweighs any of the bad in this role.”
“I’ve been able to transfer my skills from my previous work into my roles at Kantar Public”
Richard found that many of the skills that he gained from his previous role were transferable and valuable to his work at Kantar Public.
He says, “For me, transferring my skills from my previous managerial role has been pretty straightforward. My skills mainly lay in project management as I used to deal with higher level complaints, which involved a lot of negotiating.
“Initially, moving to my role as a Regional Field Interviewer (which involves knocking on people’s doors and trying to get them to agree to take part in your survey), a lot of that comes down to negotiation too. It’s just about people skills really, and having the ability to communicate with people warmly.
“It’s easy to over complicate the job of interviewing people or be intimidated by it. But when you break it down there’s nothing complicated about it. There’s no need to be afraid of being told no when you ask people to take part in a survey. If they don’t want to, that doesn’t matter. You just move onto the next house. Someone is eventually going to say yes.”
“During my time at Kantar Public, I’ve experienced almost the complete reverse of ageism”
Ageism in the workplace is a topic that many Rest Less members have shared their experience of. But for Richard, his experience of working at Kantar Public has been almost the complete opposite.
In his previous role, Richard explained that it was easy to see ageism in the workplace. He says, “I’d say that if you got to a certain age, there was nowhere set for you to go in terms of career progression, and that felt very clear without anyone actually saying so. I think if I hadn’t taken voluntary redundancy, there wouldn’t have been any more opportunities for me.
“But funnily enough, it’s almost been the complete reverse working at Kantar Public. A lot of the work involved suits people who aren’t looking for full-time employment. Full-time hours are there if you’d like them, but the arrangement definitely gives you a level of flexibility. Previous life, and work experience can also be really valuable for many of the roles.”
“Whatever it is that you want to do, just do it. There are so many opportunities out there if you want to take them”
Having been able to change jobs and find work that he’s passionate about in his 60s, Richard explained that it’s important not to settle for anything in life that doesn’t make you happy. He says, “Whatever it is that you want to do, just do it. There are so many opportunities out there if you want to take them.
“This is especially true for anyone who might be feeling that the job they’re doing now isn’t making them happy, or who feel like they don’t want to be under so much pressure. You don’t need that, and now’s the time to go after something that’s important to you. You really can make your work suit your lifestyle.”
Touching on future plans, retirement is on the cards, but for now Richard plans to continue enjoying his work at Kantar Public. “For me, retirement is definitely in my plans. I qualify for the state pension around 67, and whether I’ll take that then or not, I don’t know yet. I’d like to think I’ll be retired by the time I’m 70, but my views might change by then, you just never know.”
Are you feeling inspired by Richard’s story? Or do you have a story of your own that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation on the Rest Less community forum, or leave a comment below.