Some of UK’s top leaders from business, government and public life gathered on April 10 and 11 in central London to share advice they would give to their 18 year-old selves at Heidrick & Struggles | JCA Group’s annual Career Builder event, hosted in partnership with youth social action charity City Year UK.
Senior leaders – including Geoff Quinn, T.M. Lewin Chairman and former CEO, Lord Augustine ‘Gus’ O’Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary, and Mayank Prakash, Department for Work and Pensions’ Director General for Digital, Data and Security and the holder of the Most Influential Person in IT award – addressed over 65 young people from across the country, taking part in interactive sessions, panel discussions and workshops.
Reflecting back on his distinguished career, culminating as head of the Civil Service, Lord O’Donnell shared three pieces of advice which had helped him to make the right decisions at critical points in his career – namely, to listen to honest feedback, follow your passions and be prepared to take risks.
The goal of the two-day event for students ranging in age from 18 to 25 years, was to prepare them for the world of work. Participants included young people volunteering through City Year UK, who dedicate their time to addressing educational and social inequality. Volunteers serve as mentors and role models for children growing up in disadvantaged communities, including schools in London, the West Midlands, and Greater Manchester. “We are delighted to partner with City Year UK for the fifth year running and to support an organisation that does so much to help our local communities,” said Claire Skinner, Partner-in-charge of the Heidrick & Struggles | JCA Group London office. “We are particularly grateful to the inspirational leaders who dedicated their time and shared their insights to make this event such a success.”
City Year UK volunteer mentor Simi Obi-Adewole, 21 and from London, said: “The last two days have been very insightful and I’ve learned a lot from the speakers. It’s reaffirmed lot of what I’ve learned from my mentors about leadership.
“I hope to take away some practical skills which I can use to further develop myself and my leadership skills. Something I’ve really taken away is that authenticity and being yourself is the best way that you will succeed in the professional world.”
Other speakers included Andrea Cooper, Group Human Resources Director at Caffe Nero, and Nick Earle, SVP of Global Field Operations for Virgin Hyperloop.