Career advice and inspiration from the professionals.
Spotlight on: Alison Robb As Group Director for Strategy & Planning, Alison Robb is the most senior female at Nationwide. Now she’s helping other women rise to the top.
How did you get where you are today?
I went to a school that helped me make good career choices, gained a business qualification, and chose employers that invest in their people. I’ve learnt the value of that, so I put time and effort into working with graduates to maximise their talent.
Is it important to set yourself clear career goals?
I’ve always had broad goals and been open to new opportunities. If you’re too prescriptive, it can narrow your options and lead to disappointment. When I embarked upon a career as an accountant, for example, I had no ambition to lead a team. Today, that’s one of the most rewarding things I do.
Why are you good at your job?
Technical competence, determination, leadership skills, and putting myself out there, taking on jobs that aren’t always popular or easy and do them well. I listen to feedback and work out how to react to it without compromising who I am.
Have you come across any barriers to career progression?
I’m the only woman at my level in my organisation, but that’s never particularly been a problem for me. I may not necessarily have any female role models, but I am continually inspired by the people I work with. Organisations need to to make sure they’re having open conversations to retain their talented staff, and that way of working requires two-way flexibility.
Here at Nationwide, for example, I’m about to launch and lead a women’s network to help people make the most of their opportunities.
What do you look for in an employer?
You can get under the skin of the organisation from the people it employs. I would talk to staff at my own level before I took a job. I’d go into the building to see if I like the environment and the diversity of staff too. You can also tell a lot about an organisation from the information it puts into the public domain. Nationwide offers great insights through our website, YouTube and Facebook, for example.
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