We were thrilled to welcome Laura MacDonald, Owner of Prosper, as our speaker for the morning session. Laura has over 16 years’ experience working in the corporate sector, and over three years as an HR and Business Manager in a local secondary school.

Prosper is a mentorship programme designed to work with local businesses to engage, mentor and support local students during their trainee years. Laura’s session focussed on the skills she teaches to students looking to start in the industry, and how these can be developed and used later in career paths.

There was discussion on career growth versus career progression; how we measure these two outcomes; how we manage pathways for success; the differences between each; and how to aim for these outcomes.

Laura emphasised how our careers are in our hands, and that we need to be thinking outside the box. She stressed the importance of taking charge of opportunities presented to us, even if it means going outside of our comfort zones. Creating a strong personal brand, incorporating personal values as well as the employer’s values, was also highlighted.

Laura explained that as much as it’s a firm’s responsibility to ensure that their staff are happy in their roles, and feel that they are progressing and supported, much of our career growth is up to us to control and influence.

Creating a plan that follows simple steps can help us to track our progress. This should include evaluating our strengths and weaknesses, visualising where we want to be professionally and personally, and identifying gaps between these two areas, while considering how we can bridge these gaps.

Creating a clear road map for success, and breaking this down into small and achievable objectives, will avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. Regularly reviewing and evaluating, knowing that not everything works the first time, or is right, and adapting our objectives are all important parts of making an effective plan.

Laura discussed how appraisals and 1-2-1 reviews can sometimes feel that they are only for feedback from line managers, when really they are also platforms for us to share our career plans, aspirations and ideas in a focussed environment. Laura recommends approaching these meetings with purpose and preparation!

The session was ideal for our Future Connect members. Laura highlighted very practical and achievable ways for taking charge of careers and making the necessary steps to grow and prosper.

Our Future Connect scheme is all about supporting new talent in our industry and providing useful insights to assist members in their ongoing careers within the financial services sector.

If you would like to find out more about Future Connect, including how to sign up and information on upcoming events, visit our Future Connect page.