Category: Find Work

Failing the commuter

As I look to land a role in London I am also looking for some flexibility in not only working pattern but also commuting services. I want to do three fixed days in London (Wednesday to Friday) and two days from home to begin with. This means I will have to book travel and accommodation on a weekly basis for over forty weeks of the year. There seems to be a real service industry opportunity to help people like me in this position as I assume I am not alone in this pattern of working? Am I? So here are a few ideas that would make my soon to be life a lot easier.

Booking trains

I want to book two trains a week for the foreseeable future. I would like to be able to block book say a months worth of train tickets. This would also enable me to take the best prices available on those routes at my allotted times. At the moment this is a laborious process where I have to book each trip individually. Just a simple repeat this booking for next X weeks would be a fairly simple addition I would have thought.

In addition to this some decent notifications capability around booking would be helpful. ‘Aden your preferred route and time slot is at its cheapest price now and will go up in 24 hours to £x. Book now?’ That is a call to action I will be answering.

The ability to change up or down times of travel more easily would also be great. I often book the last train home to Sheffield which is a killer. It leaves St. Pancras at 22.25 and gets into Sheffield around 1.30. I wish I could easily switch to an earlier train sometimes. This would be a great realtime offer from East Midlands, ping me around 7pm ‘Fancy getting home two hours earlier for just £10?’ Sold.

Why are season tickets only seen as something people who travel every day would use? Why are there no season tickets for a few days a week or even a daily season ticket? I want a year/three months of Wednesdays to London and Fridays back to Sheffield please.

Booking reservations being sent directly to my Google Calendar is a very nice feature but I agree strongly with Ben’s post about why on earth they don’t include the reference number in the headline calendar entry. Fix this please.

Better yet remove the need to collect paper tickets at all. When are trains getting paperless tickets like airlines? An app and a QR code seems easy at the software level, the challenge is the barriers and ticket collectors handheld devices. I think we are a way off that yet for East Midlands trains but we live in hope so there is less rush and hassle at the station just walk straight onto a train.


Similarly to train bookings there is no easy way to block book hotel rooms. I have contacted several hotels to see if any deals are possible and they have quoted me ludicrous business rates which I could get cheaper from any search. Real missed opportunity to build loyalty? I am hoping to get two nights in London for round about £120…the cheaper the better though. Give me your tiniest windowless broom cupboard. As long as it has a bed big enough for me, a shower/toilet/sink and is relatively close to a tube station / my future place of work, then I will be very happy.

I have also considered AirBnB and I wish they had some more commuter friendly options. If I can’t find a regular hotel cheap enough then maybe a deal could be done with an AirBnB host. Try out their flat a few times, get to know the owner see if they will do a block booking off AirBnB at a better price without them taking a cut or AirBnB could build that service (bordering on renting rather than hotel use) and level out the service charges etc. etc. Maybe some sort of auction / VRM style process. I have £120 for two nights for x weeks in this sort of area, who can accommodate me?

Another nice plus would be the ability to store a bag in London. The ability to just leave a toiletry bag and some clean underwear/clothes/phone charger/gym gear/12″ Breakfast Plate would be great. What is the scope for something like that? Hotels? Helpful landlord in the AirBnB scenario, a locker at work perhaps or some sort of locker elsewhere?


Keeping track of what I spend in a month/quarter/year on travel would be a very useful service indeed. Basic Personal Financial Management features for a bank capable. Some service like Expensify could also help here but for ease, built into my bank would be ideal. One day perhaps. Come on Mondo et al.

I am sure when I actually get a job there will be other services I will want to make use of but for now these seems like the most pressing needs. Please someone fix them, especially you East Midlands Trains. If anyone has any pointers for services that can help with these kinds of requests then please do let me know.

Update: Simon White made this lovely observation. If only I had two wheels.

The search for an Aden shaped role – an update

A brief update on my search for employment following on from my last post in January. I have been on pause for the last month as I concentrated on two roles that were progressing nicely. They have unfortunately both gone cold so it is back on with the search. One especially was going really well and I was very excited about it but some complications around making an offer means it now will not happen, gutted. I need to take my self off pause and look for more eggs for the basket. I have been mainly using my network of contacts but now I need to maybe take a more formal approach to run in parallel. I have spoken with a few nice recruiters following some recommendations.

I should maybe revisit some of those contact requests from strangers that clutter my messages inbox on Linked In. Why do people not add context to why they want to connect if you have never met them or spoken to them? Start a conversation, Linked in should make this easier / default behaviour. If you want to connect on there then please put something in the message as to the reason why as a blank connection request feels strange to me. I am always looking for new contacts / interesting people to meet I just want a bit of a starter in an introduction.

Whilst looking for the next big permanent role I also should get myself set up a sole trader or a Ltd. company (I had put that on pause too) so I can look at freelance opportunities. Feels like a lot of paperwork mind you.

In the last post I said I was looking somewhere at the intersection/overlap of Product Management, Digital Planning and Consultancy. That is still the case but I am open to anything of interest be it financial services or not.

I have been relatively busy not fully on pause. A few things of interest.

I was interviewed recently by Stessa Cohen for UX Crunch.

My FintechBot was also ‘interviewed’ by Irish Tech News.

A post of mine was recently picked up by Finextra which means more than ten people read it ;)They seemed to dislike my original headline of ‘Faster Plastic Horse‘ though.

I also get married on Saturday so I need to ‘get that out of the way’ 😉

The week after next I will be back to London for a few days (the honeymoon is in June). Wednesday the 24th to Thursday the 25th of February. So please do get in touch if you would like to meet. Also get in touch if you would like a chat and you are not in London.

The search for an Aden shaped role

After the really great response to my post about finding something new I thought I would continue the openness with an update on what has been going on as well as forcing me to try and better define what I would like to do i.e. an Aden shaped role (this is not me weirdly talking in the third person but a phrase at least three people have used during meetings recently).

I had loads of meetings and calls in December with a whole host of different folk. I met only with people who had got in touch off the back of the post. I did also take the chance to meet with some other folk I already knew but largely I was meeting new people, which was great, not that meeting the people I already knew was not great also.

I had some great conversations where it became clear what it really was I wanted to do (creativity / making came out very strongly) it was also good to be challenged and understand maybe where I lacked the experience needed.

A few opportunities have presented themselves and hopefully things will progress well this month.

Back to work

My plan for January was to go into a more targeted investigation / pester mode and I will be working towards that in case none of the opportunities pan out.

I would like to start looking closer to home. I thinking a 50 mile radius of Sheffield i.e. Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham etc. The money and the work is in London it seems from my initial search, or maybe my network just skews that way and my meetings so far have been very much London-based. I am more than happy to work in London (and if truth be told I am drawn there) but am unable at the moment to do 5 days a week there.

I am looking for companies that can offer more flexible working i.e. 3 days in the city and 2 days working from home. That flexibility is very important to me wherever I work actually as it is how I have been working for the last two years and is a real help with family life.

If you can help me grow my network outside the capital (and inside) then that would be much appreciated.

Aden Shaped Role/Hole

As mentioned previously a few people have used this phrase unfortunately it has been attached to the phrase ‘We don’t have an Aden shaped role/hole at the moment’. I wish I had asked them to better clarify what they thought that was. I assume it is a mixture of how I am perceived on the web / because of my background in financial services and innovation / my voluptuous figure. From the conversations so far though it feels mostly to me like an Aden shaped role fits into one of these three things.

Product Management. Several conversations around this some that were far more delivery focused and maybe not as suited to my skills where as others were more around the design and direction of a product which was more suited. Certainly an area of interest and working for a specific company owning something specific would be a good challenge. The chance to grow a business/test out theories/get much closer to customer interactions would be excellent.

Planning. Instead of taking the in-house route the world of the digital agency certainly grabs my attention. The chance to really flex my creative muscles across a wide range of projects, products and brands is definitely the kind of work I would love to be doing. Working with a creative team to build out ideas.

Consultancy. The most obvious route to me it seemed upon leaving HSBC. Consult on innovation, large organisation culture / collaboration, financial services, digital transformation etc. etc. I want to learn a trade(s) and this seemed close to my recent work history where I was a multi skilled internal consultant of sorts. If any nice consultancy firms want to get in touch then let me know.


And that is where I currently am. Somewhere at the intersections of those three areas and like I said a few things are progressing well. I have a long list of follow-up meetings / reminders to get things scheduled. I am looking into the pros and cons of setting up as self-employed / a limited company to enable me to do some shorter term pieces of work. I am also putting the finishing touches on a better defined hire me post looking more into the kinds of things I believe in / want to work on / problems I would love to have a crack at etc. I am also finishing a few posts that are not about me thankfully.

I will be in Manchester on the 13th of January and I will be in London from the 27th-29th of January as I have been invited to attend the excellent Monkigras conference by the very nice James Redmond. if you want a chat while I am there, or anywhere else, then do let me know.