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Ben Legg of The Portfolio Collective says more dads are considering a portfolio career in light of lockdown and its effects
Ben Legg’s had a side hustle all his adult life. So he was practicing a portfolio career before that became a thing.
A portfolio career means mixing and matching a number of different roles. It’s a professional relative of the gig economy. But it can also mean holding down part time employment and combining that with self employed work perhaps as a consultant or perhaps getting a new venture off the ground.
Now Ben’s bringing his expertise to bear via new venture The Portfolio Collective. It aims to help folk set up and succeed with a portfolio career. And he’s seeing increasing interest among working dads. Some have been forced to rethink their career by furlough or redundancy. Others have reconsidered their priorities during lockdown and want a way to shape their own work life balance.
Whatever the reason, portfolio careers are on the rise. “The number of permanent jobs is shrinking,” explains Ben. “And many are not coming back. At the same time there’s way more portfolio work around. Increasingly companies are going to have a core team, and when they start a new project for example they’ll bring in the consultants and lawyers or whoever they need as they need them.
“It’s predicted that by 2030 half of all workers will have a portfolio career. I looked at LinkedIn and did some sums and worked out that’s 350 million people that The Portfolio Collective could help by 2030! We want to help anyone that wants to launch their own portfolio career, and help those that already have one to thrive.”
Ben models the portfolio lifestyle. With The Portfolio Collective taking up much of his working week and a number of separate clients he advises and supports as well.
He’s five children in, as he puts it, two batches. His three oldest children aged 25-18 were born when he was in the Army. That wasn’t a lifestyle conducive to being a hands-on dad when he was sent away for tours of Bosnia and Northern Ireland. He reckons he missed two years of his oldest son’s first three years through operational deployments. It’s different this time round with two-year-old Pippa and baby Jasper born in lockdown in the summer.
“I get much more quality time now. I block out time in my diary between 7am and 9am to be around to feed and dress the kids in the morning and again in the evening for bedtime. With all my previous office based jobs I wouldn’t have been home before 6.30 and I’d have missed out time with the kids before they went to sleep. You don’t have kids just to see them when you retire.”
And self employment allows for further flexibility. “Of course if a big client calls you have to jump. But generally you have more control over your schedule with a portfolio career.”
The Portfolio Collective was born out of lockdown. Some strands of Ben’s own portfolio – such as giving speeches abroad – inevitably went down in lockdown. With some time on his hands he started giving career advice to friends and family who sought it. Soon that became one online career advice session each week open to anyone and charging for admission. When an American attendee told him he was good at giving advice and there was a need for his expertise he went all in and founded The Portfolio Collective. Now he leads a team of 10. The Portfolio Collective offers platform-based content, forums, networking and training including a four week ‘Catapult Course’ that aims to focus the mind and get a portfolio career off the ground quickly.
With the world of work changing rapidly this year it’s clear more and more working dads will be adopting a portfolio career in the future. “A lot of men are still in the mindset that a man has a permanent job,” says Ben, “but that’s changing.”