2021 – Another strange year

A year ago, at the end of 2020, we were in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, but most people probably expected things to get better during 2021. And in many ways they have – the vaccines that were launched a year ago have reduced (but not eliminated) the levels of serious illness and death, allowing a return to some form of normality, but it is clear that Covid is still here and the rise of the Omicron variant means that it is likely to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future. Navigating an ever-changing situation and regulations in a responsible way has become the “new normal”. Not being able to travel and connect with friends, family and colleagues in person is tough – I am a people person and thrive on social interaction.

Against this ever-changing backdrop, I have continued to grow and diversify my portfolio of activities. It’s a busy time in the chemical industry, companies are battling with unpredictable changes in demand, unreliable and expensive supply chains for raw materials and finished goods as well as practical operational challenges caused by Covid including shortages of manpower. However, many are managing to grow sales and profitability in difficult circumstances, and there has been a noticeable increase in hiring activity during the past year, especially in North America.

During my first year of trading, I had just 5 paying clients for my consulting business. A little over halfway through my second year, and I’m pleased that this number has more than doubled and I have a strong pipeline of new work lining up for 2022 with clients old and new. I am expecting a busy but interesting year ahead on the consulting front. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss how I can help your business to navigate the oilfield chemicals market, I still have time available to support you.

Executive search / recruiting work is keeping me busy and diversifying my income, as well as being very enjoyable. Discussions with clients about hiring talent to grow and diversify their business, achieve their strategic goals and build winning teams are invariably positive, and approaching candidates with new opportunities for professional development and growth is also generally well-received and leads to great conversations. Recruiting is both fun and rewarding – it makes me think I should have done this years ago! Once again, if you are seeking talent to grow and develop your business in the chemical industry, give me a call and I would love to hear your plans.

My pro bono work as a Director and Trustee with Chorus Education Trust and as an Enterprise Advisor with “See It, Be It” in Sheffield also remain interesting; I am contributing to the growth of the trust as we move into a period of expansion into primary education, having been previously focussed 100% on secondary schools, enjoying supporting careers education at Westfield School and helping young entrepreneurs with “The Big Challenge” enterprise competition at High Storrs School. The enthusiasm and positivity of young people is infectious!

Outside of work, my wife and I have continued to invest in property, moving our focus away from London to our hometown of Sheffield and our daughter’s home in Glasgow. So far, so good – no regrets! I am also active with an amateur theatre group in Sheffield, the long-established Tudor Players. This is very frustrating as we are planning and rehearsing some great productions, but unfortunately have no guarantee that the Library Theatre in Sheffield will be reopened by February to accommodate our planned re-launch. With professional theatres open, it is disappointing that amateur groups are still being kept in limbo due to a lack of action and decision making from Sheffield City Council.

Overall I am positive as we move into a new year, and I hope you are feeling the same. I look forward to reconnecting with more friends and colleagues during 2022, and hope that more face-to-face meetings will be possible soon – maybe even some international travel!

Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year!


Published by johnjex

Director and Principal Consultant, Jex Business Services.

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