6 key lessons from the Women in Business Expo

By Robert Half on 29th October 2019

The Women in Business Expo took place 16 and 17 October at the Farnborough IEC centre and Robert Half was proud to support and sponsor the event. Over the course of two days, our team hosted CV and interview clinics, informed people on the current recruitment market and how to highlight their transferable skills to get into the workforce after a career break. We also held two panel discussions as part of the wider events programme where experienced female professionals shared their personal career highlights, challenges and lessons on harnessing their potential. Our speakers included:

  • Emma Cashmore, Diversity Director at Facebook.
  • Suzanne Baxter, Independent Non-Executive Director.
  • Kerry Dettmarr EMEA Financial Controller at CBRE.
  • Aisling Roberts, Associate Director for UK Technology at Protiviti.

Here are the six key lessons that came from the discussion to help improve your career progression and potential at work.

Lesson 1: Change your mindset

Changing your work mindset can help you improve your productivity, engagement and career potential. If you constantly think about what you can't do, it can impact you in more ways than you might expect, like your job application process, interview performance or collaborating with the wider team. Try to counteract this by thinking proactively about your skills, including your role experience and where you might need more training. 

Empowering your mind to know that you can do more things than you think means that you're not holding yourself back from exciting opportunities to excel at work.


Lesson 2: Consider alternative options

Job-sharing and part-time working options are often overlooked as suitable opportunities to progress your career, however, they are becoming more popular in the workplace. By reframing the discussion and helping to highlight successful ways job-sharing and part-time roles have added value, we can help organisations find alternative career paths to offer women and men greater flexibility at work.

Suzanne Baxter commented, "Something I’ve seen recently is a seriously impressive example of job sharing for a strategy director role. It’s a job share between two women who have worked together for over 10 years and for the interview they came in and put a proposition together to explain how they would job share the role. They are so committed, very professional and doing an amazing job, they’re seamless. I’d never really thought about the perspective that individuals can take this into their own hands, of proposing and finding their own permanent job share."

Lesson 3: Be the role model for others as you climb

Whether it's intentional or not, every woman in business is a role model to others. Emma Cashmore, Diversity Director at Facebook shared some valuable insight on the kind of person we should all aspire to be at work and where you can take influence as you climb the career ladder to ensure that you continue to inspire others.

Lesson 4: Don't undervalue flexibility

There's nothing worse than a lack of transparency when it comes to flexible working options. It's important you know how to ask flexible working and clearly express your expectations alongside your plan to overcome any expected challenges. We are often proactive about what we need to do our jobs, but when it comes to asking for flexibility we don't use the same approach.

It's important that we consider your personal needs from work to be successful, and how that relates to your career goals.

Lesson 5: Focus on the solution rather than the challenge

Constantly talking about challenges with your manager and expecting them to solve them for you won't ensure that you always come away with what you want. Instead try coming up with a solution to your challenge first as this will show great leadership and initiative. Providing a well-thought-out solution will make it much easier for you to get their approval. 

Sometimes it can be as simple as reminding yourself that you already possess the ability to be your own problem-solver at work while also improving your adaptability to situations.

Lesson 6: Set clear career goals

During your career, it's important to remember that each day is different. Workloads can vary and change frequently so it's good to remind yourself why you are in the role to stay grounded. Regularly ask yourself these questions:

  • what is your overall job purpose?
  • are you happy at work and why?
  • does your career goals align with first two questions?

If you go into work each day knowing exactly why you are there, you can remain focused, aligning yourself with business targets and mapping out your own progression. This means you can clearly set out your career goals and see how you are progressing towards them.


Your career journey is all about learning

These key lessons cover the importance of enhancing your soft skills and having the empowerment of your own career trajectory. What's important is that all these lessons are achievable and can help you progress in your career — no matter what stage you are in your career. 

Your career journey is all about learning and with every setback or success give yourself the time to learn and understand the why so you can improve. Remember your career development is in your hands! Know your worth, your skills and what's important to you about your job.

If you would like to see more exciting career advice to fuel your career progression, subscribe to our e-newsletter. Harness your career potential and search jobs with us today!

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