Remote life is all very well and good when you factor in a twelve-step commute to work and the ability to avoid colleagues’ egg or fish sandwiches at lunchtime, but it can also be, well, a little too remote.
That’s why we try to bring the Astun team together at least once a year, preferably twice. Last year, we met in sunny Richmond on an improbably warm day in May. Unfortunately, when it came to our Christmas do, it was Train Strikes 1 German Market 0, as our planned day sampling mulled wine at Birmingham’s Christmas Market was axed at the eleventh hour.
A month later, we converged via various trains on a decidedly less festive central Birmingham. The aroma of garlic bread and bratwurst was replaced with the lingering scent of beer as we met at the Old Joint Stock on Cathedral Green. Now a Grade II listed pub and theatre, it was once a library for a nearby church and then a bank. There, for a couple of hours, it became Astun HQ as our founder and MD, Mike, gave a brief company review and outlined plans for the year before we split into teams to plan our top three priorities (aka ‘Rocks’ for those of you who also run your business on the Entrepreneurial Operations System (EOS)).
Afterwards, we ambled across the city, stopping to say hello to the Bull, a six-tonne sculptured tribute to the power and might of Birmingham. There, nervous Astuners clustered around the Bull for a photo op. It’s safe to say that we caused some mayhem and some tourists went home with photos of numerous GIS specialists huddled around the Bull. We can only imagine what their families will make of their pics.
Having sneakily rubbed the Bull for luck, our Marketer, Jill, led the way to Treetop Adventure Golf. Leigh split us into teams in readiness to tackle two themed courses. The power of the Bull led to Jill being awarded the best golfer medal for a round which included three holes-in-one and plenty of unfounded accusations about prior practice. At the bonus 19th hole, the iShare team demonstrated its prowess, with two-thirds of the team scoring holes-in-one.
There being nothing ‘mini’ about the competitiveness of our golf game, we retired to a nearby bar. Bacchus’s self-proclaimed eclectic mix of Roman, Green and mediaeval-themed rooms is a sight to behold sober, let alone after a couple of raspberry mojitos. No wonder more than one member of the team questioned if the real theme was ‘eBay’.
After a few hours, we enjoyed a short stroll past the Rotunda to Browns for a well-deserved Christmas dinner. Leigh, our head of ESG, had eco-friendly crackers delivered just for us! The meal was fantastic, once we remembered who was having what, and our golf medal ceremony was only minorly cringe-worthy considering we had an entire restaurant as an audience. The medals were well received and there was some amusement for those who realised that one of Astun’s ‘proper’ golfers, our MD Mike, was on the losing team.
All in all, it was a great day. We just wish the rest of our team could have joined us! Many thanks to Leigh for organising the event and to the management team for giving us another memorable day out.