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Developing Your Career

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Mary millar

By Mary Millar

Mary Millar is a highly experienced main board HR Director with expertise in global, private and family owned organisations and with leading FMCG brands such as McCain Foods, Golden Wonder and Speedo International –  now offering consultancy servies.

Mary has over 25 years’ experience at a senior level of enabling businesses to achieve profitable growth and stability through business transformation and culture change, team and individual development and change management.

Developing Your Career- Some Practical Actions!

Developing yourself and your career starts with understanding more about yourself – what are your strengths, and passions, how can you build on them? Is how you perceive yourself different to how others perceive you? Once you understand your strengths, how can you develop yourself (and keep learning)? Finally, how can you get yourself noticed both inside and outside your organisation?

Here are a few ways you can find out more:

Understanding yourself:

  • Find a coach who will work with you on specific goals, and help you uncover your strengths. Perhaps your organisation will help you fund the cost – but if not, contact a reputable association of coaches to find out how you can offer to be coached, as people who are qualifying need hours of coaching practice (often free).
  • Get feedback – send a simple email to colleagues- “How do I add value to the organisation, and how can I add more value?” Follow up the responses face to face where you are inspired to know more. Don’t ignore any responses that feel a bit uncomfortable – this might be revealing your ‘blind spots’ (Google Johari Window if you’d like to know more).
  • Look up free psychometric tests to identify your behavioural preferences and strengths. Look for work that plays to your behavioural strengths – perhaps it’s working with people; perhaps it’s process work.
  • Ask yourself – “Where am I now in my career and where do I want to be?” Where you want to be might include more responsibilities in your current role,  or even a change of direction ( do a great newsletter –

Developing yourself:

  •  A mentor (usually someone experienced in the field you work in) can be useful in contributing his or her own ideas and experiences – ask someone in your organisation who you feel could offer you useful advice and with whom you can build a trusting relationship.
  • Why not be a mentor yourself for more junior people in your organisation – getting out of your own head and helping others can help with gaining perspective on your own life too.
  • The Aspire Foundation also looks for mentors who are willing to offer an hour a month

Keep learning:

  • Look for a blended approach to learning- so 70% of development time should be spent learning in the role, 20% learning from others and 10% formal training.
  • Be curious and stay curious about the organisation – especially the bits you don’t know much about. Shadow people in other departments; ask if you can attend meetings as an observer (or make yourself useful and keep any records).
  • There are hundreds of free on line courses, (just Google ‘free on line learning’).
  • Build your confidence – ask your friends and family what they think you are good at. Ask other people you know socially .  You may be surprised at what others see in you.

Get noticed:

  • Find a champion – someone in a senior position who will offer you career advice within that organisation, who will champion you, mention you, suggest projects you can help with.
  • Be visible in your organisation- for example, volunteer to work on projects; offer to help with new starter inductions.
  • Network – good networking isn’t the sterile exchange of business cards- it’s about helping and sharing with people. Set up an internal network for people with similar interests, and find an external network that is supportive.  By all means use social/business media to help you bolster your presence; but I believe you need to establish relationships face to face. For inspiration try


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