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Career Girls

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June 15 2019


The 2019 Ladies, Wine and Design season kicked off on May 22nd with a conversation called ‘Up, Up & Away: How to assess and make good career decisions to move your career forward.’ Dow Goodfolk’s Creative Director, Donna McCort, led the conversation with Debbie Kitson, Founder of Portfolio Recruitment and Melissa Jenner, Founder of START Now.

We quickly discovered that ‘Up, Up and Away’ doesn’t necessarily mean moving up the metaphorical ladder of responsibility. You are actually ‘moving up’ when you are learning and growing in your role and when you feel you have opportunities to be creative, things that are just as important as being rightly recompensed for your contribution. The key to discovering which direction and shape your career should take, boiled down to three main themes:

1. Self analysis and awareness
2. Planning
3. Trial and error

Self-awareness is absolutely essential! It turns out career planning is actually life planning. Melissa told us to ‘…think about your career in the context of your entire life: Your friends, your environment, the impact you want to have.’ Ask yourself:

1. What is your aspiration?
2. What do you like?
3. What motivates you?
4. What drives you?
5. Where do you want to head?
6. What do you value?
7. What kind of lifestyle do you want?
8. Use the AEIOU framework (it is seriously great, google it)

And when you answer, ‘let excitement be your guide. What is your heart telling you?’

Then, when you know what you want and why you want it, make a plan. Draw you now versus you in 5 years, then plan how you are going to get there. You may need to write your own KPIs and share them with your boss. Or find a mentor, someone in your immediate sphere who is interested in your learning journey and can give you feedback. You will almost definitely need to try something new and maybe even take a few risks. Melissa talked about 3 ways to evolve your career:

1. Iterate          2. Pivot          3. Transform

It’s not uncommon to feel uncomfortable about change because after all the self-analysis and planning, finding what is right for you comes down to trial and error. But as one of the ladies in the audience pointed out, women need to summon the courage and back themselves. ‘The more you step out of your comfort zone the easier it gets.’

Sometimes the change you make will be spot on, other times you’ll find yourself in a situation where you are unhappy. It is important to unpack why before you jump ship (or pivot). Ask yourself what has brought you to that point? The solution might be as simple as talking with your employer and making a small change from where you are now (iterate). Scared of the conversation? Our speakers’ top tips were to consider what you want out of the conversation first. Pick your time and the environment. Don’t do it when you tired, emotional or stressed. Melissa encouraged us to ‘tell the story of your impact within a business frequently, don’t save it up for a big conversation. You should be having small frequent dialogue that builds your relationship with your boss, and if there is no relationship that is a red flag.’

If iteration doesn’t work and you are still unhappy then it is really important to take note of all of the red flags and warning bells that led you to that point. Acknowledge what hasn’t worked for you and don’t feel bad about it. ‘Not everyone will suit every environment. Don’t feel bad about that. You learn a lot from the environments where you were mis-aligned with values and relationships with people, so it is not a wasted opportunity.’

If it is time to pivot by taking your skills and moving organisation or industry Debbie knows it can be difficult to gauge if the ‘organisation you are going into has the same values as you do.’ Our speakers suggested researching the organisation as much as you can, interviewing the interviewer and freelancing as a great way to test the vibe of an organisation.

Debbie told us that the perception of staying somewhere for a set period of time is now outdated. The mistake is actually getting stuck and not moving on…

So girl, what are you waiting for? It is time to start your self-analysis and get your career moving into any shape or direction that suits you!