Category Archives: Personal Development

11 Career Related Movies You Need to Watch Today

Besides being a passionate talent acquisition professional, I am also an avid movie fan. I’m in total admiration of the actors and actresses that portray the roles scripted for them and the directors that make the scripts come to life. Whenever I come across a movie that has relevance to me in my career, I’m always eager to see it at the first given opportunity. So, if like me you are interested in how movies deal with work related subject matter, you may want to check out the following titles.

The Circle (2017)

The premise: The movie is focused on Mae’s character (Emma Watson) who successfully secures a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle. Things get off to a flying start in the beginning but she soon discovers that the company is up to no good and that its products may adversely impact humanity. She becomes the whistleblower and the chief architect of the company’s downfall.

Takeaway: I see this movie as a bit of an essay on the tech sector revealing the prevalence of bad practices including weak corporate governance and overbearing leadership. The company’s products clearly pose serious ethical concerns around privacy which kind of reminded me of the Facebook privacy issues and Uber during the Travis Kalanick years.

The Intern (2015)

The premise: Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro) is a recent retiree who quickly struggles to deal with life post retirement. He spots an opportunity to get back into work and applies successfully to become a senior intern at an online fashion company founded and run by Jules Ostin (played by Anne Hathaway).

Takeaway: What was really pleasing about this movie was that this was the first time a ‘talent acquisition team’ is featured in a movie setting. We actually see the candidate experience in flow.  Indeed, Ben’s first interaction and interviews are with several members the TA team which suggests that the company in the movie probably has a robust interview and selection process. The movie also raised some important issues about work life balance. In the movie, Jules’s husband is a stay at home dad allowing Jules to pursue her career often to his frustration. The movie also reassuringly tackles the issue of ageism in the workplace. Instead of casting aside senior citizens, it proactively puts together a program of inclusivity to reintroduce senior citizens back into work and really utilize their experience. This probably suggests that the company in the movie values diversity and inclusion. In this movie, Ben helps Jules to reinvigorate both her and the company to overcome operational issues.

A Family Man (2016)

The premise: Dane Jensen (played by Gerard Butler) is a headhunter operating in the cut throat world of agency recruitment. His job is made even more challenging driven by his desire to outperform his peers, own the company whilst fulfilling the needs of his family – thus creating a clash of priorities.

Takeaway: Lays bare the inner workings of agency recruitment. It reveals the tactics – often underhand and unethical that recruiters use to win jobs and place candidates. A ‘win at any cost’ approach reveals an industry culture that is incompatible with work life balance. Agency recruitment isn’t for everyone. Struggling to juggle work and family life, Dane is fired from his job and then starts his own company working from home to take back control of his life.

Up In The Air (2009)

The premise: Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) works for an HR consulting company that specializes in terminating employees on behalf of employers. This sees him travelling up and down the country and pleasingly collecting air miles in the process. He enjoys what he does but soon comes across issues that threaten his lifestyle by the emergence of a love interest, and a new hire which prompts him to reassess his life.

Takeaway: Firing people is unpleasant. Sadly, whenever a company goes through a rough patch, it’s human capital that has to pay the price through layoffs. This movie details that process and the issues that companies have to deal with in order to remain profitable. The movie also chronicles the life of an individual (Ryan Bingham) who seems content hopping from one city to another doing a very sensitive job. How happy would you be constantly travelling for your job?

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The premise: Based on Chris Gardner’s true story (played by Will Smith). The movie depicts a struggling salesman taking custody of his son and the immense difficulties he faces in pursuing a professional career.

Career takeaway: A hugely inspiring and motivational movie that reveals in spectacular detail the struggles and stresses we face as human beings. An emotionally charged account of the worst that can happen to any capable person. Chris Gardner was a phenomenal hero of his own life facing one challenge and setback after another. In the end, he prevailed through his commitment and self- belief.

The Internship (2013)

The premise: Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are two salesmen who find themselves struggling in their careers because of the digital age. They somehow manage to get internships at Google where they compete against a talented bunch of youngsters to secure employment.

Takeaway: Whilst critics referred to this movie as being a Google documentary, it’s really about how one needs to adapt themselves in a changing labor market that is being disrupted by technology.

Office Christmas Party (2016)

The premise: Jennifer Anniston plays a CEO of a family run company who threatens to shut down his brother Clay’s branch (played by T.J.Miller). In an attempt persuade her to change her mind, Clay throws a lavish Christmas party in order to land a big client to save the day, but things do not go as he intended.

Takeaway: Both funny and rude, this movie is about the challenges involved in running a family business. It also highlights the importance of company culture. In the movie we see the client rejecting Clay’s business proposal because he doesn’t like the culture of his company which led me to the conclusion that you could think that you are the best company in the world but if your culture isn’t good to those outside the company, you run the risk of damaging its reputation and profitability.

Horrible Bosses 1 (2011)/Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

The premise: In Horrible Bosses 1 (2011), three friends concoct plans to murder their awful managers in order to secure their happiness. In Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), the three friends featured in the previous movie start their own business but get into problems when an investor cheats them prompting them to plot revenge against their tormentor.

Takeaway: You’ll really relate to this movie if you ever worked for a boss who was passive aggressive, a micro manager or just plain unpleasant to work for. It’s a light hearted look at how three individuals driven to despair by their managers are desperate to ensure their happiness.

Fist Fight (2017)

The premise: Andy Campbell (played by Charlie Day) inadvertently causes the dismissal of another teacher Strickland (played by Ice Cube). This act leads to Strickland challenging Andy to an after school fight.

Takeaway: Shows the impact of weak leadership trickling all the way down to employees. You’ll end up with disharmony among your employees and a workforce that is isn’t engaged. In this particular story, the inability of leadership to manage an employee relations issue results in a fight between two teachers. Poor governance and a lack of concern for employee welfare are strong themes here.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

The premise: Focuses on the life of Alexander (played by Ed Oxenbould) and his family. They each face back to back setbacks. He ends up thinking if he has somehow managed to curse the family.

Takeaway: Ben Cooper (played by Steve Carell) and Kelly Cooper (played by Jennifer Garner) are both working parents who face struggles in their professional lives. In the movie, Ben has the weirdest interview experience when he’s forced to take his toddler son with him to the interview, and Kelly who works for a publishing company, accidently changes the words in a children’s book which result in the book being full of rude words. Despite their individual misfortune, Ben actually ends up impressing in his interview and gets the job whilst Kelly’s mistake actually ends of benefitting her company. The movie is a reminder that we are all not perfect at end of the day and that sometimes it’s ok to have a bad day and you can’t do anything to change it.

So these are my favorite career related movies. If you get the chance, I encourage you to watch them as most of them are comedies so you’ll enjoy them. Happy viewing!

Image Credit: Manu Mohan

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Six reasons why you need to undertake an expat assignment in the GCC

 

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates and has witnessed modernisation on a grand scale since the 1990s. It has weathered the financial storms during the height of the financial crisis to re-establish itself as a prime destination for multinationals looking to establish a presence in the region and beyond. The United Arab Emirates is part of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and can be best defined as a regional intergovernmental political and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Having lived and worked in Dubai for nearly four years, since coming back to the UK I have benefited both culturally and career wise. My time there was interesting, enjoyable, challenging and enriching. Having also had the opportunity to travel to other countries within the GCC, I have found that there are several common themes that are prevalent throughout the six countries. These are:

The GGC leads the way in job creation: As the economies and populations of the GCC grow, so does demand on civil infrastructure, education, healthcare, housing so this results in job opportunities across multiple sectors.

Fewer decision makers: This is especially the case with regional companies/family conglomerates where it is often the CEO and/or Chairman who is the sole decision maker so decisions are reached faster rather than going through multiple layers of approval.

Faster business cycles: Due to faster decision making, projects can take shape much faster so a company’s hiring needs can be established quicker, creating job opportunities and transactions are completed faster.

Career development: Economies in the GCC are still developing so this means better prospects to move both laterally and vertically in your career. If you are somebody with between 5 and 10 years’ experience with a good educational background, you are going to be in demand so expect calls from recruiters.

Personal and professional development: Even if you decide to spend only a few years in the GCC or commit to a longer duration, you should expect to enhance your skills set as you gain exposure to prestigious projects and working alongside a multinational workforce means a more culturally diverse experience. Many expats who have worked in the GCC go on to work in other regions such as Asia Pacific and North America as their GCC experience is considered very valuable and transferable so if you choose to go to the GCC region, you will certainly be adding value to both your life and career.

Weather: Although it is stifling hot during summer months (mainly May to October), when it does cool down there are ample opportunities to pursue outdoor pursuits. Plus, it’s really nice waking up to a sunny bright blue clear skies.

Six tweaks to make to enhance your career development trajectory

There is no golden formula that one can apply to be successful in their career but one can certainly make certain adjustments in their day to day attitude that can prove worthwhile in enhancing your skills set and worth in your career. Here are six tweaks that could help propel you forward in your career:

  1. Take pre – emptive action: Prevent things from happening before the wheels fall off. Put in place methods and procedures that will prevent a situation reaching crisis stage.
  2. Adopt a proactive mind – set: Stop reacting to things that are coming to you. Instead focus on taking positive steps to completing the task (s) at hand.
  3. Look at the bigger picture: Have the end goal in mind whenever you set out to do something. Ask yourself if the action you are about to take will generate the required results.
  4. Become solution focused: Always operate with a continuous improvement agenda. Even a minor change to a policy or process may trigger an improvement.
  5. Disconnect: When things go wrong, don’t panic and take it personally. Instead, take a step back to assess what went wrong and why and execute your solution orientated mind – set.

5 things I learnt from the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the lessons they have for business

The 2014 FIFA World Cup recently concluded and despite on and off the pitch controversies, and much public anger at the cost of the Brazilian Government’s spending on infrastructure, the tournament was one of the most successful and memorable in living memory. Here are five things I learnt from watching the tournament and the resonance they have in business:

ONE – There is no substitute for team work and attitude:

Teams such as Costa Rica and USA were a prime example of team work and attitude. They didn’t have the household names and match winning players of other teams but they proved that getting basics right, having a nothing to lose mentality and punching above their weight together with helping other team members out when they were out of position made them a force. This propelled them to the highest level of performance any team can desire at a major tournament.

Business Lesson: Go beyond your job description and keep things simple. Believing in yourself and your team members will create a positive team environment. More importantly, understand what the common goal is and be realistic in your expectations.

TWO – Don’t be afraid to take a risk:

Netherlands coach Louie Van Gall embodied this in abundance. During the Quarter Final match against Costa Rica, Van Gaal substituted his first choice goalkeeper Cillisen and replaced him with Krul when the match went to penalties. The outcome of this was that Krul saved two penalties and this put the Netherlands through to the semi finals. His greater height and reach were sighted by Van Gaal as the rationale behind the substitution.

Business Lesson: Don’t be afraid to experiment. As a Manager, next time you have a project – put an untested team member on the project. Know your teams’ individual strengths and skills to get the best out of the team.

THREE – Have a plan B:

In each of the games Netherlands played, the team adapted their style and tactics to their opponents and that proved valuable as Netherlands progressed through the tournament. Van Gaal was a thinking coach who constantly studied the oppositions every move before executing his strategy.

Business Lesson: In business, it’s important to know what you will do in a clutch situation. Something might not work as you would expect. Have something prepared that you can revert to in times of need – a toolkit etc.

FOUR – Stick with the norm and you run the risk of failure:

By the time we got the Semi Finals when Brazil played Columbia, signs were evident that Brazil was not up to the standard of other teams. When Brazil played Germany, their weaknesses were laid bare and they imploded before the eyes of their country. In the aftermath of Brazil’s disastrous exit, it was apparent that coach Scolari was heavily reliant on Neymar and Tiago Silva who were the spine of the team. Scolari kept faith with the same team as he picked in the first match to deliver but as that turned out that was blind faith. Brazil were predictable, relied on the same tactics and never had a plan B.

Business Lessons: Don’t be afraid of mixing things up and when it comes to recruiting a team; do not be averse to individuals of unconventional backgrounds whose CVs may not read great on paper. Resist having similar styles of people in the same team and instead select individuals who would complement each other and a particular function and/or department. Above all, give indivuals time and autonomy and let them flourish.

FIVE – Feeling valued elevated a player:

Suarez, Neymar, Neuer, Messi, Robben, Rodriguez were all talisman to their team. Their talent is undeniable but what was even more important was that they had the support of their team, coaching staff, and when these players performed they had a domino effect on the rest of their team.

Business Lesson: Feedback and engagement are two of the most critical elements in business. Get either wrong, and you end up with a disenfranchised and de – motived workforce. To get it right, work out what truly drives your workforce and what puts them off. Move forward then by making a commitment to driving out the practices that create unhappiness in the workplace.

 

 

 

Lessons learnt from hardship

We are exposed to challenges at every stage of our lives. As newly born babies we come into this world totally oblivious. We are then taught by our parents to speak, walk and become independent of our parents so we can move about freely without their assistance. At school we, are exposed to our first real interactions with people. We have disagreements with other children but through the experience and guidance of our parents we learn what is right and wrong.  Then as we embark on our student lives, we are thrust into a different environment that requires a greater level of independence. We have to meet deadlines, be punctual in our attendance at lectures and seminars and learn how to manage our workload, and balancing our studies with our social lives. Here too we learn to develop the qualities that make us into the people we are going to be in our working lives. Then we enter into relationships, we get married and set up home with our partners. Here too we learn about life’s challenges and it is our very wisdom and ability to deal with change that will determine how successful we are.

Now as you are reading this you are probably wondering all this is fine well, what is the point here. The point is that this is what life’s model looks like if thing go smoothly. However, the trouble is life doesn’t always go smoothly. Unforeseen events occur that upset this model. This is where the hardship comes in. People are totally unprepared for this. People experience these unforeseen events in different forms. They could be involved in an accident and face life changing injuries, they could become ill and have to endure painful treatment and operations, loved ones could pass away, they could face bankruptcy, be made homeless.  There are people who survive this hardship then there are those people who fall at the first hurdle and fall victim to the hardship. However, the difference between facing up to the hardship and giving into it is to keep your mind intact. The human mind is a really powerful tool.  If you can keep it together you can keep everything else together. This is the starting point.

The other thing you have to remember about life is that it will not always be comfortable. There will be bumps and scrapes along the way, and you may even fall down and have to get back up. There will always be something that won’t be right. The getting up part is the hardest. In general, I believe that people who experience hardship earlier on in their lives are more prepared and mentally stronger for the challenges that hardship throws up. The mistake people make in their lives is that they don’t take it seriously until something bad has happened to them. Yes it will be scary, you will want to cry and you may just want to hide from your problems. The important thing to remember is to stand tall when disaster strikes, and be prepared for it. Mental conditioning is very important.

Sadly, it is a great concern that Generation Y in society is growing up to expect that things will be done for them automatically, that they will graduate from college and university and walk straight into a high paying job. That is simply not the case for the majority of people out there. Life’s dynamics are changing partly due to changes brought about by the global recession. Only the fittest and bravest survive and if you can become resilient in facing up to hardships you can prevail in overcoming problems.  From a personal point of view here are the things I have learnt from hardship:

  • Self –sufficiency – Being a self starter, not having to rely on anybody else but myself in my personal life. I learnt that one can complete a task quicker without having to wait for others.
  • Certainty – Having the courage and the conviction to make the call on a difficult issue when others around me didn’t.
  • Patience – When things were not going my way, allowing them to run their course and abstain from making unnecessary interventions that would otherwise jeopardize the outcome.
  • Physical endurance – I used to play rugby at school and was also part of the school’s Athletics team during which time I really developed myself physically. When I was at University, I was diagnosed with an illness which required intensive medication and corrective surgery. I had two major surgeries 7 months apart. When the surgeon operated on me and I made a remarkable recovery, he said that if it wasn’t for my physical fitness I would not have made a good recovery. So it definitely pays to be in good physical shape.
  • Mental endurance – The combination of participating in competitive sports at school and dealing with an illness really brought about the best in me mentally. I became more ambitious as a person and also resilient, motivated, calm and collected. I learned how to cope with problems and having the mental capacity to put up with stressful situations.
  • Self-motivation – While others at university and work struggled to keep themselves motivated my attitude always exceeded expectations. Nobody had to tell me to do something. For me it was a part of my everyday routine. I even tackled the most boring of tasks and viewed them as challenges that had to be met.
  • Obedience – This has a lot to do my conformity to cultural norms and values that in turn have shaped my principles when times were rough. Obedience has earned me the respect of others, and I am now seen by others in a positive light when I communicate with them.
  • Posture – A person’s posture is very important. Thanks to exercise, I was able to improve my posture because I wasn’t very tall. To improve my posture, I embarked on a series of simple yoga techniques. I did these regularly for a year and noticed a remarkable transformation. I didn’t slouch anymore and instead walked very upright, shoulders back and chin forwards. This added a whole new edge to me as a person, especially in terms on my height as it gave me a physical presence I previously didn’t have.
  • Principles – One of the most important things I have learnt in life is what I am comfortable and uncomfortable with. Some of these principles have been instilled in me by my parents, others I have developed throughout life. I essentially see my principles as my own codes of conduct that guide me through life’s many challenges.

The process of life is an evolution in itself. It would be very strange if one person spent their lives not adapting to the challenges it posed. Does a perfect life exist? I don’t think so but we do strive for it. There is always something that isn’t right about our lives. Just ask the extremely wealthy celebrities who end up in rehabilitation therapy. Learn how to anticipate the unexpected and learn as much as you can from each challenge in life whether it is minor or major. Build a solid foundation within yourself because when the storms of life hit you, you will stand resolute and emerge strong.

Happiness is elusive but achievable

What makes people happy? Well that depends on individual circumstances. Some people are naturally happy in their outlook on life; others are not and have to find ways of becoming happy. If you are one of those people who fall in the latter category then I think you need to start from extracting happiness from the smaller things in life. This is what works for me. This could be looking forward to the weekend, looking forward to a holiday you have planned, watching your children grow up, meeting a deadline and finishing a project at work. As I see it, happiness is inter-connected with our human needs. Ask yourself what is it that you want from life? I believe the happiest people on the planet are those who are successful in their careers, and truly love what they do. They even look good in person. Having a job one enjoys and pays well can have quite a remarkable impact on one’s life. Personal growth through education and career advancement is the most potent way for self improvement. In this competitive age, it is essential that one renews their skills and education every few years. I have seen people who were at square one in their careers/professions in their early adult years but with years of hard work and some personal sacrifice they got their happiness. It’s never too late to rock and roll.

The Essence of Creativity – It Needs to Flow Correctly

Can you give me an example of your creativity’ is often a question asked by interviewers the world over? Almost all job descriptions these days list it as a character trait. Quite a lot of people struggle to answer this question but it may be more a case of understanding the very essence of creativity more than anything else. To be creative is to be innovative, solution orientated, adding value, and taking initiative. But it is also about passion – it’s about doing something you love. I truly believe that the most successful people in the world are those who like and love what they do. That’s where creativity flows from. Everything becomes second nature. If all this does not happen, then you cannot be creative.

But all this may not be your own fault. For one reason or another maybe the job or work you do started well but later turned out to be something else entirely. Maybe the office culture wasn’t right. There can be numerous reasons.  Some people do take the initiative and make a boring job more interesting by challenging themselves in solving the problems right under their noses. For others being creative is about doing something they love and being in the optimum environment.

Do not be surprised then that if it takes you several jobs or indeed a decade or more to realize your creative potential. It is all about being in the right place at the right time in the right frame of mind.  Creativity is like a chemical reaction. Certain elements such as passion, the right environment, meeting the right minded people, doing something you love, pouncing on the opportunities must be present for the creative juices to flow. When that happens nothing in the world can stop you achieving your goals and ambitions.