4 career tips from company MD and old boy, Tim Edwards
Monday 24 April, 2017
On 29 March 2017, it was Warrane old boy Tim Edwards that was guest speaker for the Wednesday night dinner. Grateful and excited to be back, he told the residents that his one regret from his Warrane days was treating the place as a hotel for the first 12 weeks out of his almost six-year stay. 12 weeks seems a small part, but he wished he had gotten involved, and therefore enjoyed himself more, right from the start!
As a as Managing Director of a consultancy that prides itself on bringing substance to strategy, Edwards was all about practical, rather than philosophical, tips for the boys. He shared with them four things that helped him to achieve a fast-rising and successful career to date - often things that were first imparted to him at Warrane.
Edwards began by talking about service – how being of service to others can be beneficial to your career.
“How do I lead in every situation? By looking at how I can respond, how I can serve, how I can please. And there’s a really humbling impact that comes with that, primarily to you and yourself, when you go out and take service very seriously. And that comes with a sense of satisfaction that you’re actually stepping outside of your own greed and your own need, and you’re going out there in support of others, and looking for something that’s greater than your agenda being pushed forward”.
As lovely and ideal as this sounded, Edwards did point out that this is something that doesn’t make sense at first: since career is often about pushing your own agenda and competing with others.
“How are we ever going to get ahead if we’re busy trying to respond to someone’s need, or to serve others? Surely there’s an economic reality out there about the scarce resources, that necessarily means that serving would take second place,” he said.
“But what I found as I got out into the workforce was that this concept actually started changing into something whereby the ‘pay it forward’ thing actually works... I tended to be “yes- man” as a graduate, I wanted to please everyone...There was this sense of ‘How can I serve? How can I help? How can I add value to something that’s actually happening in the workplace?’ And pretty soon, if that’s your attitude... a secondary impact is people actually looking out for you and looking to serve you.... and competing soon gets completely flipped on its head because you don’t need to compete – people are pushing you forward.”
Edwards continued: “In career I rose quite dramatically, in terms of the ranks... and in the lead-up I found that it wasn’t just myself pushing my case, but a large army... And if I was to hazard a guess as to why they looked to do that, I don’t think it was necessarily technical brilliance. I don’t think it was necessarily anything but this concept of ‘this guy is going to do something good for all of us because it’s just in his nature to serve.’”
Edwards’ second piece of advice was about friendships: building and keeping close to a support network.
“15 to 20 years after we’ve left college, there’s still 15 of us that communicate with each other almost every single day of the week,” he said. “And there’s this sense that I’m so much more powerful because of the relationships that I have built... All the things that happen in this place that give you the opportunity to form a bond, such that you can achieve so much more because you’re part of a group or part of a team that gives you confidence, was very much for me practiced during these five and a half to six years at Warrane.
He continued, “There’s a camaraderie that goes well beyond your years at Warrane... You on your own are powerful, but you’re so much more powerful with your friends and your comrades”.
He also spoke about coaching and mentoring: the differences between them, and the need for both. “Coaches...were the ones who were helping me get better at engineering... someone who’s sitting close by you...who’s looking at getting you better at what you do... You need to balance that with a mentor.”
“A mentor,” he continued.” is someone who truly cares about you, who is going to give you the external perspective... They’re constantly challenging you... a voice of reason outside of your direct context who ends up giving you that reality check... Get a good coach internally; and balance it out with a bloody good mentor, externally, who’s looking out for you over the course of your life, not just your career.”
Edwards made it clear to the boys that their current life stage was an excellent one for figuring out what they stand for.
“There’s an element of actually looking to find yourself when you’re in a place like this,” he said. “Whenever I talk to people who have gone to college versus people who haven’t, it almost seems like they’ve missed the point about becoming a man. And that point is about discovering yourself, discovering your voice, discovering what it is within you that isn’t going to make you the next goat or sheep that joins the herd in whatever happens outside of Warrane when you get on with your professional lives.”
“What employers find incredibly attractive – what the world finds incredibly attractive – is a man with an independent opinion. And the opportunity provided to ...find your true voice - in a place like Warrane it’s next to none. I think my formative years of 17-23 or so, of being here, actually involved a lot of self-discovery that I don’t think would have been provided to me if I wasn’t up til three or four in the morning debating...If I’m constantly working to try and find my inner voice, then this element of independence I reflect in my own view is eventually going to get cemented, and this place does a fantastic job of fostering that.”
Finding what you’re best at
“I believe very firmly,” said Edwards, “there’s one thing each of us individually were put on this earth to do better than anyone else... There really will not be another opportunity across your lives to have the space and time to think about what it is...”
He continued: “It almost sounds arrogant but it’s true: there’s a purpose to every individual, we weren’t conceived with an idea of malaise or mediocrity...I was put on this earth because of something. And the opportunity now is for all of you to find out what that is!”