Heidrick and Struggles is a company that specialises in leadership consulting, culture-shaping worldwide, and in recruiting senior-level executives in a variety of business sectors to find candidates for high-standing positions in the world’s best organisations, a process called Executive Search. For the fourth year, on Wednesday 21st December, the company kindly opened its doors in the cosy corner of Argyll Street in Central London to prospective young people aged 18 to 22 for a ‘Career Builder’ spanning two days.
For the event, Heidrick joined forces with the youth social action charity City Year UK. People that apply to be part of the charity are from diverse backgrounds aged 18-25, they are people eager to tackle inequality in education. Hence they embark on a yearlong journey to work with young people in schools and provide guidance as a mentor.
‘We are delighted to join forces again with City Year UK to help unlock the talents and aspirations of young people from all walks of life and show that anything is possible in life when you put your mind to it.’ said Andy MacLeod, co-leader of Heidrick & Struggles’ London office.
Senior executives from a variety of sectors, primarily business, came in to address more than 80 young people in order to provide advice on what it takes to make it to the top. The speakers provided invaluable insight by starting with their personal journeys: from 18-year-olds who are unsure of their futures to confident leaders.
Among the speakers was Andrew Triggs Hodge, Programme Manager for Legacy, Thames Tideway Tunnel, as well as treble Olympic Champion and quadruple World Champion in rowing. His advice was poignant because he made it sound like a transferable skill – something anyone could nurture in themselves. He advised to grab every opportunity, develop a strong work ethic, and persevere in every endeavour. He warned that finding opportunity takes you out of your comfort zone and the risks may be enormous, but so are the rewards. As a strong believer in willpower he highlighted the importance of passion and perseverance in pursuit of career aspirations, ‘think with your head, heart and gut.’ He, as well as other renowned speakers, reiterated that everyone’s direction in life is different and may result in conflict, but this should never be a deterrent of a dream.
‘People didn’t understand what I had in my gut. People around me didn’t squash my dream. If it’s a mistake, at least it’s my mistake,’ he said.
He emphasised that developing a stellar work ethic then leads to a world class attitude that will enable anyone to achieve their dreams. Taking pride in achievements is key because it allows you to reap the rewards and becomes a well-earned marker of your success. Sportsmen have something material to show for their achievements – a gold medal – but not having a physical symbol does not mean that people in other careers do not have something to show for their achievements.
Uncovering passion and having fun with it can be hard, but knowing what you are ready to devote your life to will make it worth it: ‘Once you find what speaks to you, it’ll turn you into a nerd, maybe alienate people and do some weird things to your psyche,’ he began, ‘it’s not always going to be fun, but work hard, persevere and the fun will come.’
The Career Builder was full of students who may be unsure of how their futures will pan out. Therefore, hearing stories from people of all backgrounds rising to the top through self-belief and willingness to carry on despite all odds filled the room with inspiration. A gulp of what it takes to make it in the real world is sobering; challenging as it may be to progress professionally, all you have to rely on is yourself. Knowing that it can be done levels the playing field, and opens doors to a new-found inner confidence to succeed.