Alan Ritchie is an English teacher, trainer, and translator based in Barcelona, Catalonia.
Alan has been living in Barcelona since he qualified as an English teacher in 2006 with the Trinity Certificate in TESOL, and 5 years later the Cambridge Diploma in teaching English to adults.
In this post he talks about his motivations to co-found a new services sharing cooperative, Serveis Lingüísitics de Barcelona.
Why I joined and co-founded Cooperativa Serveis Lingüísitics de Barcelona
For me it all started out of frustration with certain aspects of working as a teacher in the unregulated teaching sector in Barcelona. I felt I could potentially do for myself what language schools were then (supposedly) doing for me; adding value and charging more money for the service. I actually felt I could probably add more value for my clients if I was involved in the whole process. I would be on the ground with clients and students and working face to face with companies if I cut out the middleman.
Am I an entrepreneur? I didn’t think so, I’ve always found the comfort of a contract and ‘guaranteed’ work slightly comforting. However there must be some part of me that enjoys doing a professional job, doing it well and of course being paid commensurately for doing it. And those guaranteed hours often prove to be anything but…
‘Who moved my cheese?’ So asks a self-help book for newly redundant professionals facing life as freelancers that I remember my father reading years ago upon losing the job he had had for some 30 years. Well, I hadn’t lost my cheese (yet) but to slightly paraphrase that slim volume I asked myself; is there other cheese out there? Better cheese?
I decided there probably was and when, in response to a frustrated rant about a now defunct employer, my father said, “What you should do is set up a cooperative”, it got me thinking.
Luckily it also got me talking. Firstly to Neil McMillan, who it turns out had had a similar idea, and later to Irene Almazan and George Chilton. I say luckily because most of my ideas have never seemed to become anything solid. But that’s the beauty of ‘cooperating’: we can do things together which could never be done alone.
And so the shared idea actually became real. And once the coop was out of the idea stage and into the realms of reality, I knew I had no regrets and wanted to be along for the ride…
Many hours of talking, writing and working later, the SLB ride is forever gathering pace and more people are getting on board with us. It’s a challenging and exciting project to be a part of and I’m relishing this new chapter in my professional life and in the lives of my fellow cooperativistas.
Bring on 2015: SLB’s year!
To find out more about Alan, read his professional profile on the SLB.coop website.
To find out more about our professional training, or our language teaching or translation services, please visit SLB’s website or get in touch with us.