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Are you future proofing your career?

21 Aug

shutterstock_40818789740% of all jobs are likely to be automated by 2030 – that’s according to Oxford University economists Dr Carl Frey and Dr Michael Osborne. The question is what new types of work will you be doing b…

Source: Are you future proofing your career?


Are you future proofing your career?

21 Aug

40% of all jobs are likely to be automated by 2030 – that’s according to Oxford University economists Dr Carl Frey and Dr Michael Osborne. The question is what new types of work will you be doing by then?  How will you be freed up from repetitive tasks as automation opens up new possibilities?

These are important questions to ask yourselves and while 2030 is in the distant future, automation is already happening. It’s likely to affect portions of almost all jobs, according to a new report from McKinsey & Company which recently analysed 2,000+ work activities in the US economy.  It will require businesses to understand how their orgainzations will be transformed and how processes and culture will have to be changed as a result. It also requires a mindset shift in all of us. Here’s why.

Demographic changes are impacting us all in the workplace:   

  1. We’re living longer – in the UK, the number of centenarians has risen by 72% over the last decade and life expectancy continues to increase across European countries. We’re all going to be working much longer and the idea of retirement is eroding. Some of us can expect to work up to 20 years after retirement age.
  2. We’ll have multiple careers – as we’ll be working longer, the concept of a ‘job for life’ is increasingly rare. Instead, we’ll have upwards of 10-15 different roles, careers and build a patchwork of skills designed to adapt to changing technologies and trends.
  3. Gigs won’t just be for musicians – we’re starting to see people choosing to work‘gig jobs’ having a portfolio of part-time jobs to give them freedom and flexibility in the types of work they do. It’s becoming increasingly popular with millennials, keen to try multiple pursuits at the same time.

Why the type of work we do is changing

The structure of employment is shifting – while automation, artificial intelligence and robots will replace certain jobs with repetitive tasks, new jobs will be created, while skills gaps in certain areas like cyber security and analytics will still exist. It’s estimated that by 2020 there will be 756,000 unfilled vacancies for ICT professionals in Europe. Last year, the EU Commission helped to form four new national coalitions to help build a stronger digital Europe – two of which were the Belgian Alliance for Digital Skills and Jobs and the Netherlands National Coalition.

What can you do?

At a personal level, it’s vital that you take responsibility for your own careers now so you can disrupt yourselves and learn new skills to ensure your future employability.

It requires a different approach to learning – where you take the initiative to learn continuously. It could be online learning courses, certification, reading blogs, forums, Medium posts, book club style learning sessions with colleagues – the possibilities are endless. But it demands a change in mindset to be open to  new possibilities and invest time in your own personal development, something I’ve talked about previously in my post: Disrupt Yourself to Success.

 Here are some useful questions to ask yourself to future proof your career: 

  • What skills do I currently have?
  • Are these skills future proofed for the changing nature of work?
  • What steps do I need to take to acquire new digital skills?
  • What type of work interests me?
  • Where are the current industry skills gaps? Could I re-train to move into one of these areas?
  • Am I continuously learning?
  • How can I make learning a daily habit?

Changing the type of work we do isn’t necessarily going to be a comfortable experience – but that’s OK. It’s part of the learning curve and helps you grow personally and professionally. There’s no time like the present to start future proofing your career and open yourself up to change.

What are you doing to future proof your career?


Disrupt Yourself To Success

11 Jan

disrupt yourself to success

Are you comfortable in your current job but you feel that there’s something missing? Do you find your tasks are becoming routine and no longer challenging? Do you feel like you’ve reached a career peak and your job has lost its shine? Perhaps it’s time to disrupt yourself.

Most of us work with a personal goal or ambition in mind, whether it’s to develop new skills, make a difference, become famous or simply to provide for our families. When your work is challenging it energizes you, gives you drive and generally makes you feel good. Then, once you’ve finally achieved your goal or career ambition, you bask in the warm glow of your success and are happy to work at it thereafter.

However, after a time you may find that dream job, or a large part of it, becomes automatic and routine. This tends to occur when you enter a “comfort zone” in which you can confidently perform your work year in year out without issues. It’s a perfectly good place to be but it’s not where the magic happens. Growth, fresh ideas, innovation and creativity all occur when you are outside your comfort zones. So, in order to step outside the zone, you need to disrupt yourself, be prepared to learn new skills, open up to new experiences and go on a journey where the end goal might not even be in sight.

Career development is no longer the linear track it used to be, where we’d follow logical steps up the ladder to success. To accelerate personal growth requires courage to leave a comfortable position (where you are at the top of your S-curve), and take a step back or sideways to try something new (starting at the bottom of a new S-curve) that will take you further over time.   Timing is important and good preparation before you jump to the next learning curve is essential for successful career advancement.

Here are a few tips to prepare for launch:

  1. Write down the functional and emotional elements that are important to you in a new role or job.
  2. Know your distinctive strengths and apply your special skills in a unique manner.
  3. Ensure your strengths align with the learning curve you are planning to undertake.
  4. Analyze how well your skills map to unmet needs.
  5. Be prepared to step down, step backwards or step sideways. When you’re seeking a new venture outside your comfort zone, you have to be prepared to invest in learning and developing before you can achieve success. For instance, to strengthen or learn new skills you may need to take a step back on the career ladder, or a step sideways into a new area of business and then learn the ropes.
  6. Embrace failure and use your experience wisely. If you welcome failure as a guide and teacher you’re more likely to find your way to success.
  7. Engage in discovery-driven planning where you have a plan but the outcome may be as yet unknown. If you pursue a disruptive course, you can’t see the top of the curve from the bottom and you may end up with a different result altogether.
  8. Follow the “equal odds rule”.  This rule basically states that success is a numbers game. The best strategy is to produce as much work as possible in order to provide more opportunities to create something meaningful. For instance, if you want to write a frequently cited paper, publish a lot. If you want a successful business, go to work. If you want to sharpen your skills as disruptor, disrupt. As Woody Allen brilliantly pointed out: “80% of success is just showing up”.

In her latest book “Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work” Whitney Johnson talks about the importance of driving innovation through personal disruption. Definitely an interesting and worthwhile read!

Go ahead and disrupt yourself to success!

The Female Leadership Advantage

23 Mar


Have you ever noticed how most words associated with leadership are masculine?

Manager, leader, boss, chief, officer, they all lack a feminine connotation. Historically leadership positions were a male stronghold and, even in corporate boardrooms today, the balance remains in their favor. Perhaps this was understandable in an industrial era but in today’s networked economy there is a need for more authentic, emphatic and collaborative leaders. And these happen to be just the skills that female leaders often have in abundance.

Authenticity in communications is vital for leadership in a changing business environment. Change creates anxiety and confusion and requires genuine and clear communications to build trust and confidence. Female leaders often have better communication skills and the ability to articulate a strategy with empathy helps to create optimism and clarity in uncertain times. This is a great asset to any management team that has to steer an organization through disruptive changes.

Collaboration between teams is more important today than it has ever been. With organizations becoming increasingly global, cross-cultural, and networked, leaders will need to find ways to inspire their teams using creative and collaborative tools. Female leaders often have good listening skills and relate well to others, which is important to ensure an inclusive approach to nurture innovation and new ideas. Their interpersonal skills and the ability to empower and engage team members are strong assets to help any organization deliver high levels of performance.

Creativity and the ability to spot opportunities are essential qualities for any good leader to ensure a sustainable, successful business. Female leaders are great at networking and use this to good effect to sow the seeds of ideas. Generous in their ability to give and open doors for others, they include all team members as they like to make in a difference in the lives of others. For any organization looking to create an open culture of innovation, they would do well to include female leaders on their teams.

Relationships are at the heart of any organization, and building strong, long-lasting relationships with clients, employees and other stakeholders are even more important in the digital age. Female leaders are specialists at cultivating relationships that are purposeful, genuine and meaningful. Connecting people and resources effectively, they thrive on creating and sustaining momentum for both themselves and others, using their caring and nurturing skills to best business advantage.

Socially conscious organizations tend to outperform others as they attract the best talent and have a more engaged workforce. Female leaders are natural givers and often prefer to serve a cause that advances social needs. They tend to be socially conscious leaders, looking at a long-term, sustainable strategy for organizations and a beneficial impact on the community at large.

Numerous research reports and surveys over the past few years have shown that engaging more female leaders contributes to growth, performance and prosperity. The time for change is now. Here is a call to action for all leaders to embrace diversity in the boardroom. A special call to action for all those talented women out there – use your female leadership advantage and encourage others to do the same!

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition” – Marilyn Monroe

The Power Of Positivity

12 Oct

think, do, be positive

The Mind is everything. What you think you become” – Buddha

Positivity always has a payoff. How? A positive attitude not only brings you health benefits, it opens your mind to new opportunities, broadens your network and, ultimately, makes you more successful.

Whilst we sense that being positive is good for us, the science of positive psychology and happiness proves that we benefit greatly by viewing the glass as half full. According to psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, a leading researcher in this field, positive emotions are more than just fleeting, frivolous sensations; instead, they can profoundly change our minds and bodies, provide new perspectives and making us more resilient to setbacks.

Being positive makes you more successful

A positive attitude opens your mind and broadens your awareness. When we experience positive emotions, we are able to see the bigger picture as it increases our peripheral vision and helps us to become more aware of different possibilities. This widening of awareness is directly linked to greater creativity. It helps us find solutions faster, develop new ideas and think outside the box.

Furthermore, positive thinking improves your performance. Studies show that if you’re feeling happy at work, others will judge your work to be more innovative and your supervisor will rate the quality of your work more highly. It was also found that managers who cultivate happiness and connection find that team members are more productive, creative, engaged and have better health profiles.

It is no surprise then that positive people are great to be around, particularly in the work place. They are perceived as more trustworthy and intelligent as well as less selfish. As a result they’re likely to have a wider network within the company than their colleagues and, as team players, they can always count on their support and cooperation. Tasks are performed faster, projects completed more quickly and creative solutions are discovered with ease making them more successful as a result.

Think positive and positive things happen

Positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring unpleasant or difficult situations. It simply means approaching them in a more positive and productive way. Happiness is a choice. You may not be able to change your current situation but you can change the way you view and respond to it.

Can you turn a negative attitude into positive thinking? Yes, anyone can do it but it does take time and practice. A good start is to surround yourself with positive people who provide you with support and encouragement. Wear a smile and you’ll soon find that it’s contagious! Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Remind yourself of your good qualities: your strengths, interests, skills and activities. Want to know more about the power of positive thinking? Why not take a look at the following recently published article from the Mayo Clinic or the publications from the Greater Good Science Center.

Let’s get positive. 

Positivity at work pays dividends. Here is a simple exercise that’s really worth trying: if you are facing a difficult task, try recalling a positive memory just before you engage with it. This broadens your awareness and will make the task easier.

Born to succeed? Let your past guide your future

8 Aug

 vintage wedding photo. just married couple

It is often said that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Family ties, no matter how strained they may sometimes seem, shape and influence you from the moment you are born. There are recognizable family traits such as the colour of your eyes or the shape of your nose, and then there are characteristics such as intelligence, musicality, a head for numbers or languages, stubbornness, and so on. This powerful mix of ‘ingredients’ forms the basis of who you are, and the environment and culture in which you grow up and develop either strengthens or weakens them. Ultimately, it is your actions that determine much of your personality.

Have you ever tried to build your family tree? Tracing your lineage and history can be very interesting and often reveals unexpected findings. The pursuit of family history and origins is often driven by the desire to carve out a place for one’s family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, or to get a better understanding of who you are. Having a better insight into your family history can also help you recognize your strengths, accept your weaknesses and make the right career choices.

When I was young and rebellious, I rarely listened or took any notice of the family history my parents and grandparents shared with me. To my teenage ears it sounded boring, old fashioned, uncool and usually bore no resemblance to the life and activities I was exploring. As I grew older, I began to take more interest and started to enjoy stories of the past. Not only did I learn more about their lives, their challenges and how they dealt with them, but many characteristics seemed to resonate with me:

  • Determination to do things better after a set back – my grandparents built a new home after the family farm burned down.
  • The desire to explore new horizons – my family spread out to all four corners of the globe.
  • The need to make a difference – by setting up a family charity to raise money and goods for a third-world country.
  • An entrepreneurial mindset – most of my family members have run their own business or advised others on how to do so.
  • A creative streak – I recently discovered my mother has a wonderful way of writing stories.

Furthermore, it gave me insight into family traits that I was less keen on, such as stubbornness, which gave me the chance to improve myself.

Understanding where you come from will give you a sense of direction to where you can go and what you can achieve personally and professionally. It also helps to confirm your capabilities and strengthens your belief in yourself. If you find you’re at a crossroads or a dead end in your career, it is particularly helpful to look at your family traits in order to determine a way forward. Latent talents that you may have suppressed, or hidden ones that you never had the opportunity to realise, can rise to the surface and open up new avenues and possibilities that you never would have considered.

What’s your history?

Build your family tree to gain more insight into your own family history. You can use the free program at

Take some time to ask your relatives about their life stories. Select family members that show traits you admire and learn from them.

Busy being busy?

5 Jul

Organizing the chaos

When a colleague asked this morning “hey, how are you?”, I replied without thinking “Busy!”. And this wasn’t the first time either as I have to admit that it is rapidly becoming my standard reply. Does that sound familiar?

It seems “busy” is the new office buzzword. We’re all very busy – busy in meetings, busy preparing and planning, busy in calls,  busy selling, busy delivering, busy travelling and just busy being busy. But does that mean that we are getting the right things done?

Time flies when you’re busy, and it is easy to put in a lot of hours. The work load increases, deadlines shorten and the pressure is on to deliver on targets and objectives. However, the number of hours you put in is not necessarily a measure of effectiveness. At the end of the working day ask yourself: did I accomplish my goal, did I progress?

Too often we have been so busy that we can’t remember what exactly we did all day. Distracted by incoming e-mail, notifications, calls and chat requests, not to mention your manager requesting your attendance at an impromptu meeting and colleagues asking for your support to help meet their deadline.  As a result you are left feeling stressed and unhappy, as the  tasks you planned to complete remain untouched on top your “to do” list.

So how can you make the most of your time and accomplish your goals?

  1.  Be clear about your tasks and goals for the day.  Set out a clear plan and stick to it, don’t get sidetracked. Dare to say “no” or “not now” to tasks that are not directly related to your objectives or goals for the day. Not all requests need your immediate attention and can wait until another day or a more convenient time.
  2. Use your time wisely. Block some time in your diary to finish that presentation or prepare for an important meeting. What gets “booked” gets done. And it leaves less room for others to claim your valuable time.
  3. Shorten meetings and calls. By reducing the time allocated to a call or (online) meeting to 30 minutes (and sticking to it!)  you can be to the point and focused. Ensure you provide a clear agenda and meeting objectives, and share any supporting documents beforehand, so attendees have time to prepare in order to have an effective meeting and outcome.
  4. Be on time. If you start and finish your meetings and conference calls at the agreed time, you don’t have to play catch up for the rest of the day
  5. Switch off e-mail alerts and notifications. Their incessant pop-ups are a constant distraction from your task at hand. Set yourself dedicated 30 minute slots during the day, for instance early morning, midday and end of day to check and follow up on your mail.
  6. Take a break. Working non-stop behind your desk, skipping lunch and coffee breaks will not get your work done any quicker. You will find a short break will leave you refreshed and energized, and gives you a chance to socialize and catch up with colleagues.


So before you turn off your computer at the end of today, ask yourself not how busy you were, but how much closer you came to achieving your goals.

Looking forward to hear your suggestions!

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