I'm retired now, having occupied posts in various branches of nuclear physics research. My first major appointment was at CERN in Geneva, now the home of the Large Hadron Collider and other machines of a similar function. CERN was the European centre for particle physics research and has become a respected international centre. It investigates at the quantum level the fundamental constituents of matter. Its large and mainly underground accelerators can smash atomic particles together at roughly the speed of light so as to examine their constituents.
I qualified as an electrical engineer, initially working on power stations, so that the experience of working with physicists working at the quantum level was rather a large change! I worked at CERN for some ten years and we as a family lived in Geneva itself for three of those years, moving to a ruined colonial-style house in France for the rest of the time. (Renovating a large ruin whilst still living in it and working is not an experience I would like to repeat!) When I describe it as a ruin, it really was! Years of hard work eventually turned it into a home, which we were reluctant to leave in the 1980s when we returned to the UK.
Once back home, this time in Oxford, I worked at another research establishment (the European Joint European Torus project at Culham Laboratory) investigating the large scale fusion of particles in order to create the conditions existing in the sun as a new means of creating heat and thus electricity. Eventually, this could replace the current generation of fission reactors that are now ubiquitous.
Then off to Windscale which is now part of Sellafield in Cumbria. Windscale has long been the UK's nuclear fuel research establishment. It was a relatively short stay before returning to Oxford and being appointed Chief Engineer covering both the Culham and Harwell nuclear laboratories.
My final appointment was as Chief Engineer and Director of a group of government research establishments across the UK.
I have always enjoyed playing the piano: mainly jazz but also classical music. Although I've never learned formally or taken exams, I inherited a love of the instrument from my father, who was a very skilled dance band pianist. A short love of the classical guitar in my younger university years (as you do!) temporarily replaced the piano, but once graduated the piano just had to be played again.
My experience of senior management posts and in particular the trouble-shooter role in my final jobs, led me to accept a number of speaking engagements on the subject of turning around organisations. This led to me deciding to leave my last job when I reached 50, and embark on a completely new life: that of a management consultant. But this coincided with a parallel and extremely significant interest that I had been pursuing for many years: that of Japanese Zen.
I had been the pupil of a Zen master for a long time, and was eventually given permission to teach others. The management consultancy (including team and individual coaching) and Zen teaching coalesced, so that once we decided to return to our native Wales, we bought a beautiful and very large estate in the hills above Llandovery in mid Wales where both these teaching activities could be combined.
There are certain crossroads in life where taking the path untrodden can result in surprising and very rewarding experiences and a life that is rich with incidents of synchronicity. This was certainly the case at our retreat centre, where we could accommodate a number of students for residential courses in both Zen and management (actually leadership). The combining of the Zen practice aimed at self-management with management techniques aimed at people-management seemed to work very well and the several hundred people who stayed with us over the ten years we were there attested to the help it had given them.
I named this combination of Zen and leadership 'Slow Leadership; an approach that requires the leader to nurture their own self-knowledge before leading others. 'Slow' in this context does not mean that the leader tries to be lazy! The word is used in the same context as Slow Food. This food movement that started in Italy and continues to gain ground, is predicated not only on the enjoyment of food but on the knowledge of where it comes from and a deep respect for it and how it nourishes us.
I gave twice-yearly lectures at Balliol College, Oxford, on the subject as well as at various national and international conferences and it gained recognition. Perhaps the most interesting of these appearances was via an invitation, after Glasnost, by the Moscow School of Political Sciences. This saw me travel to both Moscow and Rostov to discuss leadership in a country that had just collapsed and was desperately in need of techniques to resurrect its economy.
Of course, having developed this new approach, it had to be written down somewhere, which introduced me to writing and publishing. (See the section on Authorship). Having retired from teaching, and moved from our idyll in the mountains, I am now living in Cardiff and writing has become a major interest. Thanks to a new and innovative publisher, Wordcatcher Publishing in Cardiff, who is supporting me in this new venture, I am enjoying setting down much that I have learned and some that is pure invention - such as the Horatio Evans series of humorous novels.
One thing I miss living in an apartment in the city is my woodworking. At the retreat centre I converted a spare outbuilding into a pretty comprehensive workshop where I made furniture. This too was an interest inherited from my father who made chairs in his work. But Cardiff has so much to offer in terms of service, of course, but also its music scene. I find there are so many concerts available that it is literally impossible to attend so many.
So music is still a central part of self-expression for me and if I ever appeared on Desert Island Discs, my one luxury would have to be a good piano and this is one I recently bought. Such a delight to play!