Your educational background does not mean that you cannot be whatever you want to be. Too many times as a HR Professional when we are recruiting many just focus on where the person was educated, what qualifications they got and where they have worked. If they have had 3 years in one job, 5 years in another and worked for top companies then they must be outstanding. Yes, they could be but also they could have some serious issues they may come with. Like believing that people not like them or look like them are worthless, portraying a negative behaviour to others. Some of the things I have heard has shocked me but I just put it down to unconscious bias.
No path is ever straight, often with many detours. Some people are fortunate to have a career plan that meets their goals and never face detours. Well, that’s what they want you to believe. They may not have got that promotion but they are not going to tell you that. They will just tell you that everything they have wanted to achieve they have. Well lucky them! I can sniff out phoniness a mile away. It is like a radar.
Then there are others who are like me that who are dyslexic and blessed with some many other skills and talents that many have never thought is able. Many would see dyslexia as a hindrance others like myself see it as a gift. We don’t fit into the stereotypical idolisation of what people think we should be. The most famous dyslexic entrepreneur is Richard Branson, many would think he is wacky however look beyond the ‘wackiness’ and you’ll see a genius. Stephen Spielberg (also dyslexic), the movie maker is a genius is worth $3.3 Billion.
Going down a slight different career direction does not mean that we should right off people. When I first started on my career path, I realised that I was destined for greatness; I was and still am very inquisitive and have a passion for learning. Not the traditional way but going to business talks, seminars and attending workshops, implementing what I learn in my career. I looked at my role models and thought I want to be successful like them. I wanted greater challenges that took me out of my comfort zones. I know who I am and what I was created to do which is to make a difference in people’s life not just mine.
I sit at the table (not on the seats at the side) – executive management board – and became a board member for a housing association on a regeneration project which gave me an opportunity to work on a project based in Europe. Then the doors started opening up. I became an Adviser to a CEO and senior management team of a major security organisation in London. Other opportunities since have opened up. I take a lot of my achievements for granted, why? Because I don’t think I am doing anything special but just doing what I am passionate about.
Yet when I am looking for jobs I have been told that my experience is not relevant to my career by recruiters who couldn’t understand how the skills and experience was usually in my career. Even told me “how can a person like you get these positions”! Told to leave it off my CV too.
Come on, get real! I challenge convention, bring ideas to the table, help implement them as a ‘critical friend’ scrutinising the organisation’s performance and offering HR strategic input and advice to the executive team. Using up to date business and people knowledge able to identify and understand key commercial business issues and risks. Improve organisational and people performance, Cultural Change and Structural Change and become more commercial to meet the challenges in London and worldwide
We should not and cannot write off people because they are not ‘like us’ or because they never went to a particular education establishment or worked in a particular sector. Look beyond your reflection in the mirror and see difference is a good thing. Organisations need people from diverse backgrounds with skills and experiences and not clones.
My role models are my ‘other’ mother who lives her life using Emotional Intelligence, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.