Future Leaders review

By Joanne McTavish, Baxters

On Tuesday 25th January we enjoyed a session with Cara Chambers, Global Marketing Director for International Beverage. Cara shared her journey from Grad Scheme to Global Marketing Director; reflecting on lessons learned along the way and sharing her top tips:

  1. While to an outsider career progression may look highly planned and logical, in reality work is only one part of life and often it is the merging of micro choices in both your work and home life that determine your path.
  2. Consider challenging yourself to work in a totally different industry, e.g. Cara moving from Drinks to Banking, or a totally different role, e.g. Cara spent some time in Sales and Category. Use principles you know from your experience to date and apply them to see how they do and don’t stand up in new situations. Take learnings from each new role, e.g. a short stint in sales at the start of Cara’s career provided great insight into the conversations the sales team were having and made her consider how she could best equip her sales team to have the best brand conversations when she went back into a marketing role. This breadth of experience also stands you in good stead as you progress further in your career. In Cara’s experience, the people who are most rounded have done a number of different roles. It’s helpful to understand more of what others do when you get to a more senior level and are working with your peers, e.g. the Sales and Finance Directors.
  3. We don’t always see in ourselves what others see in us. New opportunities may come your way that you don’t feel ready for, despite those you respect and trust thinking you are. Big new opportunity feel scary? Ask what they see in you and how they will support you to succeed, e.g. with training.
  4. Don’t feel disloyal about considering your current position and regularly ask, “should I stay or should I go?” - Is it right for you now? Are you right for the company? Can you do your best work? Are you learning? Are you happy with your boss? Are you happy with the culture? Can you see where you’re going next? Consider what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
  5. When the culture doesn’t fit you (important distinction, not you don’t fit the culture!) really notice this. You develop your own values, and your thoughts on right and wrong through your career. If it doesn’t feel right for you, don’t stay a long time.
  6. While work is an important part of life, it’s not the only part. Consider how you can develop your “side bars” – the things you do outside of work such as volunteering, mentoring, being involved in the Marketing Soc, etc. These things feed into your career and your career feeds into them.
  7. As a leader, your role is to empower your team. Get the right people, in the right roles, doing the right things, and doing them right. Rather than thinking of yourself at the top of a pyramid as the leader of the team, invert the pyramid and consider how you can support the team from the base and empower them.

And finally, some book recommendations:

  • ‘Sticky Wisdom’ Dave Allan and Matt Kingdon
  • First break all the rules – Marcus Buckingham and Curt Cuffman
  • ‘Turn the ship around’ L David Marquet and foreword by Stephen R Covey



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