My form tutor and English Teacher, Miss D, once told me during my final year that I should pursue an “altruistic” career and was understandably upset when I returned to the school a few years later and told her I had chosen a career in finance. I think she wanted me to be a teacher. This forced me to reflect on what I had hoped to do when I left school, and what I chose to do when leaving university. At the time I thought Miss D was empowering me to change the world, however once I learnt the cutthroat reality of grad scheme applications, I parked any altruistic intentions to make sure I had a job once I finished university.
When you are at the early stages in your career, or even trying to decide which career to pursue, it is difficult to piece together the path from no experience to the height of your professional ambition. Studying computer science at university will not lead you straight to a role as lead developer at Google, starting your own business usually requires more than just a good idea, and managing the construction of the next Shard requires more than just a certificate in project management skills. A lot of people’s first jobs are not even in the industry they want to end up in. Growth and progression take time. So everyone, particularly those early in their careers, need to ensure they are maximising their growth opportunities, and at Quorsus, internal initiatives have been the best avenue for me to do that.
Your impact on your employer can be so much more than fulfilling the tasks on your job spec, and it is those additional internal contributions that enable someone more junior to assume responsibilities they may not get regularly, and build out their capabilities and experience. When I established the CSR initiative at Quorsus, not only was I trying to bring a touch of altruism to Capital Markets, but I was also taking ownership of an idea and driving that forward, and therefore making myself accountable for the output of the programme. Many of my colleagues volunteered their efforts in delivering on those outputs, and it was the coordination and management of these volunteers and their outputs that ultimately gave me exposure to project management responsibilities that I would not have necessarily got on a client-facing project at that stage in my career.
Similarly, other colleagues have benefitted from the ability to build out internal tooling that facilitates both the running of the business and the delivery of our consultancy. Some of them have learnt how to code or create Power BI dashboards while developing our support platforms. Others have learnt about internal controls and procedures, and how they can contribute to ensuring quality across consultancy delivery. One thing that is consistent, is that each of these individuals is using an internal initiative to enhance their career development.
In addition to the soft skill development, the CSR initiative enabled me to make significant cultural contributions at Quorsus through organisation of charity and social events. So much of growth and progression at work is based around exposure and making the right impression, and this is best achieved by immersing yourself in workplace culture. This is amplified at a small business like Quorsus, where culture is so crucial to our success working together.
If you are reading this, and work at a larger organisation, you may think the same opportunities are not there internally for you. Initiatives like Thought Leadership and branding are often owned by established internal teams, and upskill opportunities are often only available through formalised certifications. However, CSR is something that is now practiced by most businesses in some capacity, with larger institutions often allocating staff several days leave a year that can be taken for CSR purposes. The private sector is transitioning toward more being more ‘altruistic’ – best exemplified by the emergence of ESG investments in Capital Markets – and CSR initiatives are a great way to make personal progression while also helping give some wider social benefit. And it just might make your old school teacher a bit more proud of you.