At Bain and Gray we are always keen to ensure our employees are supported, invested in and rewarded for the hard work and commitment to the business. When we reviewed our company benefits in 2020, it was an easy decision to introduce a company sabbatical to anyone that has been in the business for 8 years.

As Founder of the business 13 years ago and Managing Director for nearly four years, I decided to set the trend and be the first to take up this new offering. I had been living in the Alps for two years, initially commuting to London weekly before the pandemic hit, hadn’t really had time to enjoy the reason for our move. I still hadn’t taken any French lessons as originally planned. , I had only snatched the incredible opportunities that were on my doorstep of hiking, cycling, yoga, skiing when I could and wasn’t working and found myself tired, burned out and fatigued, post the pandemic whilst we all worked in this new virtual world. After working continually for 28 years - 13 of which running my own business and only grabbing short maternity leaves, I felt it was the time for me to embrace a sabbatical.

As someone who is naturally a control freak and find it difficult to let go, I was worried it would be a hard and difficult decision to literally drop the reins and not actively be involved in the running of the business. Luckily having an incredible team and supportive team of Directors, this decision was made much easier.

I was excited, nervous and felt slightly tentative the first day of my new journey but immediately signed up to a local language school in Annecy to learn French. I threw myself into the most amazing yoga classes and bootcamp style sessions on the lake. I joined a group of wild water swimmers which was a daily dip at temperatures of sometimes 5 degrees. It helped that Lake Annecy happens to be the cleanest lake in Europe. I hiked our beautiful Haute Savoie region and I read and read. I went on mini breaks around France and joined a women’s cycling group which toured the Alps and Provence. The three months flew by but I certainly returned to the office with a renewed interest in the business, fresh ideas, and a greater sense of well-being. As a business owner we get so caught up with working in the business rather than on the business but this gave me time to reflect and think properly with new ideas. I returned to work with a fresh spring in my step and remembering why I love what I do and feeling thankful for the most phenomenal team that I work with. My French is better – am not fluent but it was fun being in a class -room style environment for a bit!

I am excited for our next employee to take their sabbatical – knowing the team, they will be doing something equally and more exciting than I did and I look forward to hearing their tales.