On Friday 5th March, the Management Society invited high-level executives to the Hotel du Vin to give students practical advice for moving up the career ladder. In comparison to previous events, the number of speakers was very small in the hopes of providing a more engaged discussion.
The event did not have a promising start, with a major speaker, one of only three invited, withdrawing due to “unforeseen circumstances.” However, the remaining two speakers proved, in just their introductions, that they were highly experienced and very interesting.
The speakers were Jeremy Masding, group CEO of Permanent TSB, and Melanie Richards, vice-chairman of KPMG. Both speakers welcomed questions, with seemingly no aspect of their lives hidden.
During the panel discussion, Lindsay Hamel, Management Society president, offered questions on a range of general career issues, as well as more specific ones. While neither speaker had attended university, both were involved in the recruitment process at their firms. This helped quell any questions over relevance. The presence of each speaker seemed to be quite the coup, with the advice targeted, relevant, and above all, actionable.
Ms Richards’ role as a founding member of the 30% Club Steering Committee gave some insight into the important role companies have in broadening diversity, not just for women but for the broad spectrum of society. Mr. Masding spoke of his personal experience in helping to shape the recruitment process and enable greater diversity, as well as the presence of internal schemes.
The most interesting advice came in the form of which opportunities to take. Mr. Masding advised attendees to identify where they want to end up and the toolbox needed to get there, and then to take opportunities that will help build this toolbox.
The main strength of this event was in the number of speakers, because with so few, each spoke extensively and deeply about their own experiences. Amusing anecdotes and examples of hard-hitting decisions were used to illustrate points to great effectiveness. The speakers managed to present their real, and not always good, experience of executive roles, as well as a path to get there and the reason to do it.
The event closed with some wine and a networking event. The caliber of the speakers and their willingness to speak in-depth about their experiences made this evening un-missable.