“Take a few risks. Being a bit scared is a good thing”

Over the past few years, I have met with many chief executives, chief marketing officers and business leaders to discuss the subject of talent and career development…

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The Marketing Academy’s Scholarship programme was borne out of discussions focused on the needs of ‘emerging’ leaders. But what about senior talent?

How do leaders with the desire and potential to advance their careers go about accelerating their own development when, by and large, the mechanism companies use to support the development needs of their executives are often either superficial or non-existent?

Last year, we launched the inaugural ‘Fellowship Programme’ to provide marketing directors and chief marketing officers with the knowledge, mentoring, coaching and practical experience needed to make the next big jump in their career – onto boards and ultimately into the role of chief executive. The sheer volume of nominations and applications proved that opportunities for this kind of learning are few and far between.

So what steps can you take to develop yourself? First, ask yourself the following questions: Am I achieving my full potential? Am I working with people who share my values? Am I growing as a person? Am I constantly building on my skills and experience? Am I really making a difference?

If the answer to any of these is ‘no’, then you might choose to take some action.

Start by stepping out of the box to broaden your experience; mentor a start-up, advise a social enterprise, become a trustee of a charity – you will gain as much as you give. You might already attend marketing conferences but how about attending a finance directors’ forum, supply chain conference or a workshop on business law? They are a time and cost effective way to broaden your knowledge.

Take a few risks. Being a bit scared is a good thing. A six-month sabbatical working for a charity in Vietnam might not be for everyone but unless you are outside of your comfort zone with your heart beating a little faster, you are unlikely to be learning or growing much. A salary cut for your dream job might not be as difficult as you think if it ultimately enables you to fulfil your potential. A perceived backward step to gain experience outside of your function might be the best investment you make.

Nurture the relationships you have with your mentors. Great mentors are a combination of guardian angel, devil’s advocate, coach and father confessor. Good mentor relationships will inspire, invigorate, challenge and nourish you.

Finally, be sure you are working in a business that shares your philosophy and values. If these are aligned, you are at least five times more likely to perform at the height of your abilities. The real secret to getting a promotion or a call from a headhunter is to be absolutely brilliant at the job you are doing.

I hope the next few pages of interviews and articles will give you further ideas, insight and inspiration and that 2014 becomes the year in which you truly achieve your potential.

Sherilyn Shackell

Founder of The Marketing Academy



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