Planning for the Future – Active Career Management for Senior Leadership
By Amanda Floyd
In June 2020, our Head of Investment, Amanda Floyd, was delighted to take part in Pinnacle Wealth Management’s webinar series on “Redefining Wealth” as a guest panellist. The focus was on Income, specifically “how to grow your income in a new era.” Flanked by an expert panel including The Pinnacle team (wealth advisory) and Linzi Boyd of Business of Brand (BoB – from a personal brand perspective), Amanda discussed active career management and the importance of building a portfolio career ahead of time. Throughout the discussion, we pondered two key questions that we explore below:
- Have we seen a change in individuals’ approach to career management?
- Why build a portfolio career – when should you start planning and how do you go about it?
The way people manage their careers has fundamentally changed. We have witnessed a shift in approach that has forced people to take a proactive, rather than reactive approach to career management. This has been driven by the realisation that strategic and proactive career management is key to cultivating your future earning potential. This shift has been driven by several “push and pull” factors.
Push: Demographic and societal change as a primary driver. People are living and having to work for longer, with the “job for life” route no longer as desirable as it was in the past. For example, incentives for the length of service are no longer as meaningful as they were even a decade ago. Changes to the pensions landscape have had a big impact, notably the decline of final salary pensions. In addition, changes to the way executives and salespeople are compensated, in that we are no longer seeing many in perpetuity commission deals and incentives that were prevalent in the market a decade ago.
New research suggests that, today, individuals think in 3-5-year career windows. Often you need to move organisations to progress, to have different experiences, to broaden your network, and to take on new challenges which facilitate self-development. The “Millennial mindset” has come to the fore in this respect. There are an emerging set of traits, prevalent amongst Millennials, who are demanding clear-cut career progression and development as well as the opportunity to enhance compensation. In addition, it’s not just about the end-game (retirement aspirations), it’s about making sure there is the right equilibrium at each stage of your career between “the 3F’s” of finance (financial gain), freedom and fulfilment.
Finally, traditional industry career paths are still good options, but a linear career path for most is a thing of the past. All sorts of new exciting non-traditional career paths have emerged and there is now a culture of challenging the normal by taking transferrable skills across sectors or disciplines.
Pull: The key pull factor is that opportunity and access are greater than ever regarding different career choices and entrepreneurial opportunities in the interconnected world that we live in today. Access to capital has never been greater and, in the current environment, debt remains very cheap. Traditionally unless you came from a certain background or were directly plugged into this community, it was difficult to access capital. Today, if you have an innovative business concept you can take this to a Venture Capital demo day or incubator programme with relative ease. Alongside private finance, governments grants are increasingly accessible to entrepreneurs in the western world. For example, the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme that the UK government offers to help a company raise money when it is starting to trade by offering tax reliefs to individual investors who buy new shares in the company.
Another trend that we have witnessed is the convergence of private and public sectors has created a number of part-time advisory roles for accomplished individuals to combine executive roles, with philanthropic desires – particularly as the trend of social purpose continues to accelerate.
Building a Portfolio Career
The value and importance of plotting and developing a diversified portfolio career lies in the ability to improve and future proof income, achieve a better work-life balance and a higher level of job satisfaction.
Changes to the way in which people work have had a major impact in helping individual prolong their career and achieve a better work-life balance. In particular, the rise of the gig economy. In 2020 it is estimated that self-employed workers account for roughly 15% of the entire UK working population. It is not just the younger demographic of the workforce, but executives have increasingly become part of the gig economy by holding multiple interim roles. The plural lifestyle has become increasingly appealing as it offers more flexibility in terms of work-life balance and often works out well financially when remuneration is on an hourly or per diem rate.
Managing a Non-Executive career takes planning – regardless of whether you’ve ‘gone plural’ with a portfolio of Non-Executive roles or if you are beginning to contemplate a NED role to add to your day job responsibilities. Not only will it help prolong your earnings potential, diversify your income and hedge against uncertainty, but by investing the time and building the requisite skills and experiences to be considered for greater authority and responsibility this will enhance your executive career prospects. Data from the FT in 2019 provided a positive outlook for aspiring NED’s. An increase was reported in newcomers who have never served on a board accounting for 34 per cent of newly-appointed directors and also that over the past decade, the average fees for non-executives across the City of London has risen by 41 per cent to reach £67,655 per year.
Our advice is to start planning now, for each career phase you need to be plotting your strategy well ahead of time. Waiting for a catalyst, such as suddenly needing an alternative career path, may mean that you do not have the right skills and experiences to make your profile stand out from your peers. It may feel too early, but the reality and incentive are that putting the building blocks in place for an advisory career, will only serve to improve your prospects of forging a successful executive career.
There are three key areas to highlight for ongoing development. These can be done both outside you day job and inside your current workplace:
1) Testing yourself in new environments, challenges, and opportunities to gather skills and experience: Companies pay people to execute things they need doing well. As a result, there can be a lack of opportunity to try things you are yet to develop experience in and invest the time to gain that competence. Use your spare time outside of your day job to venture out and explore other interests. Pick a skill or interest, for example, writing, public speaking, or some new technology – that you could nurture. Outside of your workplace is a safer and lower risk environment to cultivate new skills. Embrace disruptive technology and innovation as some of today’s big disruptors (such as AI, robotics and Big Data) will add brand-new jobs and make other jobs obsolete. It is not a matter of if your job will change in some sort of capacity, but when.
Inside your company, looking to actively pursue opportunities to become involved in topical company initiatives, such as diversity, data and digital will increase visibility and raise your profile. Seek to gain greater exposure and opportunities to present to the executive committee and board will improve communication and stakeholder management skills. Also, this will increase the perception of you as a confident driver of change within the company.
2) Broaden your experience, perspective, and network: The natural by-product of doing one job well over time is that your world view narrows. Use portfolio roles to widen your perspective, think outside of your comfort zone and challenge your previous thinking. Join networks, membership bodies, associations and attend events, not just to raise your profile and broaden your network but to be on the pulse regarding key trends and regulation shaping the market. For example, new FCA regulation is having a big impact on Independent Non-Executive (INED) opportunities across the Investment Management sector. Regulation that came into force in Autumn 2019 requires Fund Boards to now have at least two independents or 25% of the board. The UK still lags well behind other markets where there is a 50% plus ratio of Independents required. This seems to have gone under a lot of people’s radar and therefore it is important to be aware of these types of developments. Beaumont Bailey have a partnership with a fantastic firm called MosaicNED who run training programme designed to source, train and place the next generation of INED’s on Fund Boards.
3) Coaching: Development conversations can help to identify where the gaps are and how to turn these into strengths. The objectivity of an external coach can be valuable and increasingly, we are seeing clients and individuals partnering with professionals to help assess, support, and develop them through different phases in their career. The UK market for executive coaching has tripled in the last 5 years (according to recent figures in AESC) and consequently, we hired Robin Landsman as our Head of Leadership Development earlier this year. With a career spanning senior leadership positions at PepsiCo, Avon and S&P Global, Robin has built an exceptional portfolio of executives who she has coached through key career phases.
Thank you to the attendees and panellists who contributed to the discussion. Please reach out if you would like to discuss further.
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