James’ varied career has included running events in Indonesia, being a professional yachtsman, and now zipping around in his van to clean ovens in Cheshire.
James Arthur, aged 65, has had a hugely varied career. This has spanned organising big events in India and Indonesia, being a professional yachtsman, and now zipping around in his van to clean ovens in the north of England.
When James was looking for a new role nine years ago, he found that having flexibility and control over his workload was becoming more appealing as he got older. He signed up to the Ovenclean franchise – in return for a monthly fee, the company provides training, a geographical patch to cover, plus customer leads to get a business up and running. James is a self-employed franchisee, but he benefits from the company’s brand and support teams.
Cleaning ovens is a big change from James’ previous roles – but he enjoys it. He particularly likes interacting with customers, plus a physically active job has been good for his health. “I feel a lot fitter [and my] blood pressure is certainly lower…it’s a good physical workout everyday,” he says.
Crucially, this job suits his stage in life because it gives him the flexibility and control he was after. “You’re not constantly driven…by somebody else’s [targets]. You set your own targets,” he says.
After studying Biology at university, James didn’t have a specific job in mind when he graduated. After a stint as a medical rep, he decided to try something totally different – he joined an international events management company based in London. He spent ten years in this field, organising events in Indonesia, India, and the Middle East.
“It was hard graft but we had fun doing it,” he says of those years, when he got to travel the world. “It was a great time in my life.”
After a decade, James wanted to leave London and he got a job in Cheshire running events for pharmaceutical companies. But eight years later his employer was bought out – he was now reporting to someone thousands of miles away and enjoying his role far less. At the age of 45, it was time for another change.
James decided to pursue one of his great loves: sailing. He spent two years as a professional yachtsman, enjoying the variety and the chance to travel again. “One week you might be teaching a sailing course…and, the next minute, you’re going to Menorca to bring a boat back to the UK,” he says.
After his yachtsman stint, James wanted a job that wouldn’t take him away from home so much. He took on a senior fundraising role at the charity Diabetes UK, followed by another fundraising role in a Manchester hospice.
But in 2012 James’ wife was diagnosed with cancer – it was detected early and she made a full recovery, but during this period James decided he couldn’t work in a hospice. “It wasn’t the right place for [me then]…Dealing with cancer in the hospice, and then coming home to deal with it, it wasn’t right [for me],” he says.
This led James to Ovenclean. He still works full-time but, because he is self-employed, he can adjust this as needed – he is taking two days off this week to look after his mother after a fall. He emphasises that he can be flexible now because he spent his first two years in the role building a strong customer base. In the early stages, it was important to be around.
James enjoys working and has no immediate plans to wind down. “I still enjoy that work ethic,” he says. “It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and go earn a crust, and meet people, and do a job.”