'Slashies' make light work of multiple roles

One job is just not enough for a growing band of professionals in search of satisfaction, writes Judy Barouch.

One job is just not enough for a growing band of professionals in search of satisfaction, writes Judy Barouch.

David Clement and Etienne Proust are "slashies", exemplifying a growing professional trend towards holding down two or more separate roles.

The French-born friends are juggling multiple, disparate career paths that include white collar work, labour-based roles, customer service, entertainment, semi-professional sport and artistic endeavour.

Clement, 34, formerly worked with the French embassy trade commission in Sydney but recently resigned to start Pro Expa, a company that supplies engineers for the oil and gas industries in the Pacific region.

Proust, 32, previously a landscaper, is head barista at a new cafe in Sydney's Hyde Park.

But that's only half the story. Besides these five-days-a-week main jobs, the duo have launched Propell'art (propellart.com). They convert disused parts, mainly propeller blades from vintage planes - such as the Cessna 120, De Havilland DHC-4 and Dakota DC2 - into sculptural artworks and furniture.

Cabin doors also are transformed into coffee tables and aircraft wheel doors get a second life as desks, complete with rivets. Even a titanium combustion chamber from a Fokker Friendship 27 has been turned into a "sexy" lamp base.

After meeting in Australia, the two with a background in mechanics bonded over a mutual passion for bygone-era aircraft.

"We were so excited when Etienne sourced some air-intake components from a Mirage III that we worked several nights and weekends in a row to turn them into wall lights," Clement says.

While they refer to Propell'art as an "indulgence" and "a time to recharge our batteries and challenge our artistic and mechanical skills", the business has grown to the extent that - besides dreaming up bespoke pieces for designers and select interiors stores - last year they shipped 100 propeller sculptures to Paris.

There is still more on the playlist: Clement regularly DJs at a Kings Cross club as well as at corporate events and private parties, while Proust is a champion skateboarder.

INS Career Management director Sophia Symeou says switching jobs "is about keeping stimulated, not being pigeonholed or having limits".

"While in the past people undertook more than one job from financial necessity, what's different about today's 'slashies' is that technology is aiding them to undertake multiple, diametrically different pursuits for the love of it," she says.

"While this trend isn't confined to one particular generation, Gen Ys are pushing the boundaries in new and exciting ways."

The latest labour force stats (February 2013) show that out of 11,628,300 employed Australians, 610,500 were multiple job holders.

Andrew Handelsmann, 36, from Sydney, is another of these double agents. His professional life is split between working as a lawyer and a film producer, undertaking everything from script development to funding, marketing and distribution. As well, he writes film scripts for his personal projects.

Handelsmann admits it can be challenging balancing law and film gigs.

"But on a personal level it is very satisfying having that variety and balance of work."

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