Sainsbury's Eyre: There's more to your career than serendipity

Be brave, be nice and bounce back, says Rachel Eyre, head of marketing propositions at Sainsbury's.

Back in 2013, I had just started an exciting role at Barclays and was fortunate to be working for a world-class marketer.

I spent two years with my eyes and ears wide open, absorbing everything and reflecting on the kind of leader I wanted to be. When that role ended, I decided to see how I’d cope somewhere else.

At Sainsbury’s, I am learning something new every day, working on a fantastic brand and leading a talented team. During my career, opportunities have presented themselves at exactly the moment I’ve needed them. But it’s not all down to serendipity.

Be brave

Don’t talk yourself down from the exciting but slightly scary opportunities, whether it’s a change in career, putting your hand up for a daunting project or sharing an opinion that you know others disagree with. Back yourself and take a punt.

Take responsibily

I’ve been so lucky to have some incredible support, but the truth is no-one cares as much about you and your career as you do. Don’t wait for someone else to make it happen – take your development and your career into your own hands.

Be nice

It sounds trite, but you can never underestimate the value of being a decent person. People will go the extra mile for you if you’ve been fair, consistent and genuine.

Bounce back

You’ll get things wrong and you’ll get feedback you don’t like. Respect those experiences, learn from them – and then move on. Resilience is key.

Embrace change

Leadership today demands adaptability, not just in coping with change but also in leading through change. Those who can embrace change, and help others to do the same, will thrive.

Balance passion with pragmatism

Be driven, energetic and focused, but be prepared to pick your battles. The ones that matter most will need all your attention.

Don't knee-jerk

Probably the best career advice I’ve received (courtesy of Cilla Snowball). If you love what you do and are learning, stay put. If one of those things is missing, ask your boss to fix it. If they can’t or don’t, then make a change.

Know yourself

The better you know who you are, when you’re at your best and what triggers your not-so-glory moments, the more you can manage the impact you have on other people.

Be a culture vulture

Believing you’ll fit in is so important when changing jobs. Dig into the hows and whys of a new job and talk to as many people as possible to get an idea of the type of person that succeeds in that environment. If it’s not you, chances are it won’t make you happy.

Focus on your strengths

Yes, you have development areas and you should work on those. But it’s your strengths that make you shine – nurture them and find a job that makes the most of them.

Rachel Eyre is head of marketing propositions, Sainsbury’s and featured in Marketing’s Power 100 Next Generation in 2013

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