Manufacturing Matters: Keep your career development (and well-being) in perpetual motion

12th June 2020
Jonathan Burke
Partner & Head of Practice

Manufacturing Matters: Keep your career development (and well-being) in perpetual motion

Why maintaining momentum in your professional life is like a cycle ride…and why you should take that call from a head-hunter.

As a search professional for one of the UK’s largest executive search firms I have had several calls over the last few weeks from senior leaders asking me what the market is like, and to keep them in mind for new roles in the future. For me, this constant dialogue and interaction is important – keeping in touch and growing my own network is an essential part of my role.

My typical response has been a balanced view of pragmatism (most industrial manufacturing sectors are experiencing significantly reduced demand right now) and guarded positivity (no crystal ball, just thinking a ‘glass-half-full’ mindset is probably the best attitude!). But there is some science to this – our organisation has continued to win new work throughout the lockdown period AND complete search projects where the selection process has been run entirely virtually. This includes leadership roles for well-known public, private and sporting institutions.

My message that we are ‘open for business’ has been both a welcome relief and a clear sign that even in these remarkable times you should keep an open mind to new opportunities and continue to think about developing your career. Like a cycle ride, it is all about momentum, and keeping the wheels turning to get to your destination. The cycling analogy has a personal resonance and is especially relevant at this time.

Whilst over the last ten weeks my own working day has not reduced in the hours I spend at a desk and on a phone, there hasn’t been the usual office commute in a car or on a train to bookend my day. Just by chance I was lent a road bike a week before the start of lockdown so that I could join a group of friends cycling around a particularly dramatic area of North Yorkshire. Having not spent more than 10 minutes on a ‘racing bike’ for over 30 years, to have to cover 50 miles over 6 hours was no mean feat.

To say I was exhausted at the end of it would be a bit of an understatement, but the sense of achievement that we had as a group and our subsequent celebration, will be just as memorable as the weary legs. But here’s the thing…that bike is now an essential part of my daily routine, replacing the office commute with a lung-busting and leg-stretching circular ride through the quiet country lanes near my home. Each day is an opportunity to improve on my personal best time, and to continue the momentum which is essential if I want to get better.

And it would seem I am not the only one to have discovered the improved well-being from more regular cycling as bike sales have boomed across the UK.

Looping back full circle to taking THAT call from a head-hunter – alongside developing and improving our own well-being – is ensuring we maintain our own personal career development. Part of this is being open to considering new opportunities that will enable you to achieve the progression you are seeking. In my world of industrial manufacturing and engineering I know that organisations are still actively looking to hire specific leadership experience to their teams. And, (whilst I would say this) these roles will be a great step in someone’s career.

In uncertain times it is easy to adopt the ‘better the devil you know’ mindset. We still have a very cloudy economic picture ahead of us, but it is possible that we are now moving out of the worst period; and with that more organisations will begin to unlock the doors to hiring new leaders and build the demand for talent.

So, keep cycling (exercising) and remain open to that call from the head-hunter – you never know what it may do for your well-being!

Jonathan Burke is Partner within Berwick Partners, part of the global search firm Odgers Berndtson, where he leads the Industrial Manufacturing & Engineering Practice for the UK. If you would like to speak to him about your own career aspirations, or for some advice, please contact him through his details below: / 0771 8601322

Categories: Manufacturing & Engineering