Career Development Evening of 20 March

Career Development Evening, 20 March 2012


Jason's elegant pied-a-terre on Old Burlington Street is an oasis from the crowds of Piccadilly. It was the perfect location for our Career Development Evening, itself an opportunity to step back from the daily routine and reflect on how to get the best from professional life.


One group tackled the outward-facing aspects: the individual as a brand. How would a close colleague describe you in three words? How would you like to be described? By projecting a brand we are leveraging our personalities, distilling our character traits into a distinct, memorable impression. Deftly wielded, the brand is a potent tool; unthinkingly deployed, it can become a distraction or even a hindrance. It's a double-edged sword. "Passion" to one person is "stubbornness" to another. So, as any marketing executive will tell you, know your audience - and take action if your brand is not appreciated by those around you.


Next, it was time to look within. "Know thyself" was a key message; was mentioned as a good place to start. Again, it's important to be in sync with your work; if you're a pacifist, don't join the army. Other lessons: question the motives of others (don't be flattered, be cynical); believe in fate; find one or more mentors whom you trust and respect; and seek advice regularly for different perspectives and to test your "promise to the market". Good to hear, since that's exactly what we were all doing.


Thirdly, we demystified entrepreneurship. Too often it's portrayed in isolation from other avenues, as though you need to have a unique "idea" and then take the plunge into setting up your own business. In reality, there's a continuum of options with greater or lesser degrees of entrepreneurialism: from the established government or corporate job to the young company or small charity. Much comes down to culture: what kind of environment suits you best? Make a list of things that are important to you, from the content of the work to the nature of the commute. How well does it let you pursue your objectives both in your work and home life? Instead of rationalizing a supposedly attractive job offer, sit down and think objectively if it's something you would want to do.


There was no mistaking the most overwhelming lesson of the night. Ignore the widespread pessimism about the prospects for young people today. It's lazy and unimaginative. Exponential technological development and the emerging world's adolescence represent interlinking revolutions - go and exploit them! Positioned at their nexus lies tremendous opportunity. It's a fantastic time to be young. As one of our sages put it, "step on the gas!"


Sincere thanks are due to all those who gave of their time and experience, and in particular to Jason for his legendary hospitality. If you couldn't make the event but would like to discuss some of these issues further, don't hesitate to get in touch.


Max Kirby

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