East Anglian business leaders share the most inspiring encounters and moments in their careers – what’s yours?
PUBLISHED: 12:46 18 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:46 18 July 2017
It could be an action, a suggestion or a passing comment in the canteen – career inspiration can strike in myriad situations. As a new government programme seeks to give children in social mobility “cold spots” more interaction with the business world, East Anglian business leaders share the most inspiring moments in their careers.
Mark O’Hagan, East of England Coop: ‘A manager can have a massive impact’
Mark O’Hagan, joint chief executive of East of England Coop, found the biggest inspiration in the kindness of his managers.
“I’d just joined a company and attended a management meeting during our busiest time of the year.
“During a coffee break my new boss was chatting about school Christmas plays and I mentioned my five-year-old daughter was having her first play that lunchtime.
“My boss said he didn’t want me to attend our meeting, he wanted me to go to the play because he said this was more important.
“It made me realise the massive impact a manager can have when they really care about their people.
“In the years after I made sure I never let my boss down and this always gave me that little bit of extra motivation.
“On another occasion, I went into a meeting room after a large regional meeting and found the chief executive on his own collecting all the cups and plates from around the board table. He didn’t want the facilities assistant, the most junior member of staff, to have to face the mess in the morning.
“He showed massive humility and it showed me that great leaders can also be very selfless and humble.”
His advice to the next generation? Strive to find a job which “doesn’t feel so much like work”.
“When I was younger and was trying to choose what subjects to study I felt a terrible pressure. My advice is to make your decisions based on what you enjoy doing. This is more likely to lead you into a job that you will enjoy.”
Lindsey Rix, Aviva: ‘Don’t be scared to make mistakes’
Lindsey Rix, managing director of savings and retirement at Aviva, took a valuable career lesson from one of her first managers.
“When I started in banking, my first role was working for a really inspirational person who had been in the industry for over 30 years. He was hugely knowledgeable and passionate about banking, but most fundamentally about his customers,” she said.
“He worked tirelessly for their benefit, going above and beyond; nothing was too small or too big and he put them before everything else.
“This has stayed with me throughout my career, always reminding me to stand in our customers’ shoes.”
She added: “When young people enter the world of work they should go in with an open mind, be prepared to ask questions and work hard.
“Don’t be scared to take on new challenges or make mistakes – in fact, grab the opportunity which makes you think ‘I’m not sure how to do this’ as it’s the best way to learn and grow.”
Steve Muncey, KPMG: ‘Seek out work experience’
Opportunities to experience the world of work can be key to personal development, according to senior partner at KPMG’s Norwich office Steve Muncey.
“Looking back I am immensely grateful for having had the opportunity to do work experience when I was at school – covering gardening, labouring, loading and unloading lorries, warehouse work and office work,” he said.
“I would encourage young people to seek out as many work experience opportunities as they can. It’s a really good way to help you shape what you would like to do – or not do – as a career, you get to meet a whole variety of people, learn about teamwork and how to socially integrate with your colleagues and understand the ‘politics’ of being in a business environment.”
KPMG’s UK vice chairman Melanie Richards said her three most valuable attributes through her career have been adaptability, curiosity and the power of saying “yes”.
Dayle Bayliss, Dayle Bayliss Associates: ‘Careers are an evolving thing’
Dayle Bayliss’ career in construction – a lifelong interest – began in architecture.
“I went into a degree that was wrong for me, architecture, but that was because the careers advice was very narrow,” she said.
“A fortunate job advert at the local authority got me back into construction and on the building surveying route, which was where my technical brain wanted to be.”
Ms Bayliss, who chairs the Suffolk Skills Show, now has a Masters degree and an MBA.
She said: “I am a perpetual learner, but it will be through discussions with people that shape who am I and the choices I have made.
“Careers are an evolving thing and it is not easy to explain that to young people. It is good to keep learning and change your path.”
She added: “We should be helping young people to identify skills within themselves and how they transfer into the world of work.”
Richard Norrington, Ipswich Building Society: ‘I take great pride in what I learned’
Chief executive of Ipswich Building Society Richard Norrington had his interest in financial services piqued as a student, during a summer work experience placement in business banking.
“I was given the opportunity to learn first-hand bout a range of individuals and how their businesses operate, first understanding their expertise and requirements before helping them to achieve their organisation’s objectives,” he said.
“Today, this is still something which I take great pride in doing – helping our members to achieve their dreams of saving and home ownership through simple, innovative products and expert customer service.”