Leaders in Residence: What meeting 30 CEOs and entrepreneurs taught me

Rebecca Dale is a 2nd year undergraduate management student. In her first year, she attended a Leaders in Residence event as part of her Exploring Your Potential module.

Leaders in Residence brought 150 students face-to-face with 30 business leaders, ranging from relatively recent graduates in leadership positions, to entrepreneurs, CEOs and managing directors. At this event, students quizzed the Leaders on what managers and leaders do, and what employers are looking for when recruiting graduates.

Were the Leaders in Residence how you expected them to be?

In a way, the leaders were as I expected because they were all very successful and driven business people. However, they were far friendlier and more humble than I had perhaps anticipated them to be.

What qualities did you notice about them?

I noticed that they were really keen to help the next generation to succeed and give us invaluable career advice. They were also more than happy to answer any questions that we had.

What questions did you ask and how were they answered?

I asked if there was anything the leaders would do differently if they could go back to when they were our age. They laughed and said yes, lots, but their main message was to be present in the moment and not to think ahead too much. If you work hard and you’re good at what you do, career progression will happen naturally; it doesn’t need excessive planning.

Did it help you identify any weaknesses to work on?

The day in general helped me to realise that I struggle with networking, specifically informal networking. However, a few weeks after the Leaders in Residence event, I completed a spring week at Barclays, which had lots of networking opportunities to help improve my informal networking skills. The Leaders in Residence event helped me in the workplace, by allowing me to identify my personal weaknesses, specifically in regard to networking, so that I could then think of ways to overcome these weaknesses.

Did you recognise any strengths or things you were doing well already?

One strength I noticed in myself is that I am motivated to do well and proactive in securing work experience independently, which is attractive to employers.

Would you recommend the session to your peers?

I would recommend the session because you can gain a variety of career advice, which helps you to plan your career path.

Do you feel more prepared to enter the job market?

I perhaps feel slightly more prepared to enter the job market because it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the practical job market, since there is a whole different world outside of the theory we are taught at university.

Finally, what was the single most useful piece of knowledge that you gained?

The most useful piece of knowledge I was given was from Lisa Florit. She said:

In the workplace, not everybody will like you and you’ve got to learn to be ok with that.

This really resonated with me because I have often been discouraged in part-time jobs if a co-worker has been cold towards me. Therefore, I need to learn to be less sensitive in order to succeed in business.