A career as unique as you are. It’s yours to build. ​

EY Australia

I was recently asked to think about my career top tips to share with our Engage with EY community. 

As a Registered Psychologist, I now have over a decade of consulting experience, specialising in client projects focused on safety culture, leadership capability, employee experience, and mental health. I am really grateful of the opportunities I have been given to date including being the chair of EY Oceania’s Gender Network, all whilst working four days per week so that I can spend additional time with my three daughters. 

I have always had a passion for workshop facilitation and have recently moved into a role supporting EY’s learning agenda across Oceania’s People Advisory Services to ensure all staff are inspired and enabled to become the highest version of themselves.

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The advice I would share to help you to own your potential and build a successful and unique career would be:

1. Put your own oxygen mask first – this is really about investing in your physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social wellbeing. Taking a holistic approach to wellbeing has become much more important in a post-COVID world that continues to be riddled with uncertainty and disruption at a rapid pace. Things such as having a growth mindset, adopting healthy nutrition and sleeping habits, and learning to forgive (both yourself and others) are vital skills to becoming a “corporate athlete” who can adapt quickly to produce exceptional client service. You need to look after yourself personally so that you have the available resources to perform at your best professionally.

2. Increase your emotional intelligence (EQ) – this is similar to #1, but intimately focused on the ability to recognise your emotions as well as the emotions of others, combined with the creation of successful relationships. Having high EQ can significantly impact significant domains of your working life, including your career development and job performance. Research conducted by TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of leadership excellence and overall performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs. You can strengthen your EQ daily by practicing skills such as empathy, active listening, and conflict management.

3. Build a diverse network – it’s ok to be human and not have all the answers. Part of this is about being kind to ourselves and demonstrating self-compassion. But as our world and workplaces become more diverse and open, it is vital that individuals have the inclusive leadership skills to understand, respect and work with others despite differences in race, culture, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, political or religious beliefs, etc. Ask lots of questions, and when you think there is something that you know with relative certainty, push yourself to challenge that assumption and consider other possibilities. In short, the ability to understand and adapt to others who might have different ways of perceiving the world is a necessary skillset for advancing, or even re-defining, your career.

4. Identify what makes you tick – essentially, find and connect with your purpose. This isn’t just about getting out of bed motivated, but more importantly using purpose as a filter for career decision-making and behaviour. When you are deciding on whether to take on a new role or project, which organisations to work for, or any time you are in doubt, ask yourself, “Is this in alignment with my purpose?” Additionally, sharing your purpose with others is a powerful communication tool which can help inspire others as well as initiate strength-based discussions focused on career or team goals. As a tip, turn your purpose into a simple elevator pitch that supports why you do what you do.

In summary, having a successful career is about making deliberate and conscious choices (including "why" you do it), and then investing time and energy to make it happen (the "what" and "how" you do it). These four tips are simple for anyone to apply in any field, and will help set you up for success regardless of your career path.

The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organisation or its member firms.

Peter Kennedy | Associate Director at EY | Leadership Development