My Career Path
by Elaine Bagshawe
I am 28 years old and work in London, England and wanted to share my path to career growth with Nina readers along with some top tips I discovered along the way.
I started working at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) six years ago. Initially I was a temporary worker in our Customer Contact Centre (CCC). With a bit of luck as well as personal determination to succeed, I managed to turn a six week temporary contract into a successful career. I would like to share some of these key ‘career moments’. I do so in order to inspire other individuals, but also hope that some of the ideas serve as a positive toolkit for organisations also. The positive support, structure and opportunities the FCA has offered have been an integral part of my path to growth.
Despite being a temporary worker when I started, I made sure that I was one of the best performers in my team. This meant exceeding productivity targets and regularly asking for feedback from my line managers and support staff about how I was performing and how I could improve. Not only did this improve my performance, it also meant I developed a good reputation amongst the management team for being proactive and wanting to improve. This meant that when permanent roles became available I was at the top of the list.
I’ve been lucky to work for an organisation that takes developing its employees seriously. During my time as a team leader, I was mentored by a Head of Department. This gave me a ‘safe space’ to talk about issues I faced and gave me ways of tackling particularly difficult situations I was facing. Overall I developed greater confidence in my management style as well as being more confident in terms of try new things/approaches.
Tip 1: Early in my career I learnt that it’s important to get feedback on a regular basis and from a number of sources. Having a mentor can really help, because they’ll help you determine what can usefully translate into action.
I have also learnt that you should always put your hand up, regardless of any anxiety you may have about doing so! Rather than waiting for opportunities to come along I’ve actively looked for them opportunities in the organisation. This means always being aware of what’s going on in your industry and organisation and then using this knowledge to ask for work on specific projects or programmes. My biggest lesson here was when I became a team leader in the CCC. Although I had been in the FCA for less than a year and permanent for less than six months, when a management opportunity came up I threw my hat in the ring. It was partly because I wanted to understand how the process worked, but I also wanted to get interview and assessment feedback. I was delighted when I was offered the role, which also meant that at 22 I was the youngest member of the management team.
I’ve also taken up opportunities such as taking part in a networking event with HM Treasury, a Government department that oversees some of the work of the FCA, and joining the Association of Project Management (APM) to be seen as industry expert within the organisation and access external knowledge and training and support.
Tip 2: Rather than waiting for things to come along, take an active role in looking for opportunities in your organisation.
Over the last two years in particular I have always felt trusted by my line manager. I have a great relationship with my mentor but that is more inward looking. Having my line manager act as a sponsor for me is ‘outward looking’. For example, by always speaking highly of me to other people in the organisation he has helped strengthen my network. His endorsement has helped me to build a good internal reputation. This, in turn, has led to being given excellent opportunities to work on high profile programmes within the FCA – as the representative for my department. My line manager supported me throughout, empowering me to take decisions that I felt appropriate and working with me to resolve any issues.
Tip 3: Good managers are generous. They don’t ‘tell’ you what to do, instead they empower you to find your own direction
The FCA has supported me in two key ways. I’ve been able to build skill set through internationally recognised qualifications; they have, for example, paid for me to do Prince2 in project management and a change management qualification. These are high benchmark qualifications in the industry and have helped me to be seen as an expert. I would never have been able to pay to do this myself. By investing in me, the FCA has shown me that I am valued by them and my senior management team. The ensuing sense of reward, has meant that I have stayed focused and engaged – and so haven’t needed to look outside of the organisation to develop my career.
And finally… I have always made sure I make time for my own development.This has included attending networking events outside of working hours and reading relevant newsletters and information so that I keep up to date with what’s happening in my chosen field. This, linked to the opportunities that I’ve responded to, has enabled me to recently move from our Contact Centre into our Programme Management Department as a Business Change Manager.
Elaine Bagshaw my career story in the FCA
Tip 4: My big lesson to people would be to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing and move on if you don’t! I have thrived when I’ve enjoyed what I’m working on as it has ensured I’m engaged and enthusiastic about what I’m doing – which can be infectious!