When life chucks over a chance, you grab it (with both hands, ideally). Failure is always an option, yes, but what’s the alternative?
Anything, really. But growing stale in a role, organisation or industry is a distinct possibility
Anita Thompson, Head of Business Operations at legal services firm LOD, is the complete antithesis of that (slightly scary) scenario. She’s jumped at every opportunity, crossed into other industries and markets – and learned a whole lot along the way.
Anita spent 4 years at Deloitte during the heyday of big budgets and grad-grabbing (FUN), then leaped into legal land. While she first worked in a graduate recruitment role at Deacons, she soon ended up in HR. Throw in some time overseas with Ashurst in London, yet more experience and a baby…and before long, Anita was back in Sydney doing HR (including people & culture) for start-up AdventBalance Lawyers.
When that company merged with LOD, she put her hand up for a marketing & comms role. Not yet as exhausted as those reading this (😅), Anita made the move to her current role in business operations in May 2022.
So you certainly won’t wonder why we brought her along for our Moving from Talent Acquisition to People & Culture podcast. Clearly, she knows how to keep a career varied, interesting and invigorating!
Anita gave us her POV on embracing opportunities, changing careers and why a background in TA is a huge plus.
Helicopter views and (multiple) hats
The beauty of Anita’s current role is that she’s still got her fingers in the P&C pie. Of course, she’s also responsible for a number of other business functions which, she says, has been quite an adjustment.
‘There really is more of that helicopter view over a number of different functions,’ she says. ‘In any day, I’ll be working with my P&C manager…and then working with ops and tech systems and then some marketing campaigns.
‘So I’ve had to get my head around being pulled in different directions.’
And then there are the many competing (and conflicting) needs of her numerous stakeholders.
Multitasking and managing stakeholders
Challenging though it may be (ego massaging, anyone?) Anita thinks her background in TA has given her some pretty handy skills in that department.
‘Managing stakeholders and relationships…is a fundamental skill when you’re in a TA role,’ she tells us. ‘In TA, you have so many different roles [to fill] and so many different stakeholders you’re dealing with. But that’s set a foundation for me to be able to multitask and manage different priorities – and work out what those priorities actually are.’
Anita also reminds anyone thinking of transitioning from TA to P&C that you are already an expert at uncovering peoples’ strengths. And that’s going to serve you well if you pivot into P&C (or any other role, for that matter).
Now that’s some career advice we’re happy to accept.
Playing to peoples’ strengths
‘In a TA role, you are meeting with candidates and talking with them about their strengths and potentially their development areas,’ Anita explains. ‘And what I think I’ve been able to take from my roles in TA and those experiences is now…being able to identify and play to peoples’ strengths…but at the same time work out what areas they need to develop and really support them to do that.’
Even if you don’t have Anita’s appetite for change, we bet you have the skills!
Leave the control freak at the door
We’re not fans and she’s not welcome (the control freak, you guys. We could chat with Anita alll day long).
We’re not saying it’s easy to let go. But let go you must if you want to perform at your best. Even Anita admits she’s struggled with this.
‘I was that person on the tools on a day-to-day basis, so the challenge has been relinquishing control and delegating,’ she confesses. ‘[It’s about] thinking about…’what am I best placed to be doing to add value to the business?’ Activity doesn’t always equal achievement, so you might be ticking off all these things, but get to the end of the day and go ‘Was that really what I was supposed to do today?’’
Time is precious. Use it wisely.
Don’t fight every fire
It’s hot, tiring work and you’re going to run out of time and energy to do your actual job.
‘It’s that balance between…working out what fires you need to fight and what fires the team should be fighting,’ Anita says. ‘If you’re fighting fires all the time, you’re never going to be proactive in your particular role.’
Asking questions and seeing the synergies
Talking of proactive, you’ll have to take a dose of it if a career change is on the cards.
(Look we didn’t say it. Anita did. But we’re totally onboard).
‘Look at upskilling in some core areas you may be needing to develop outside of your particular area of expertise – and talk to people who have done it before,’ Anita advises. ‘People within your business that you’ve seen move across functions and also people outside…that you’re seeing on LinkedIn.
‘Really talk to people, ask questions…there are so many synergies between different functions…it’s actually not that daunting.
Her final piece of career advice?
‘Go for it!’ she urges us.
Moving from TA to P&C means being open to opportunities
Whether you’re an Anita-type or more of a ‘I’m really quite comfortable, thank you very much’ kind of person, opportunity will knock. And you should really give it some serious thought.
‘A transition can be a huge boost for you both personally and professionally,’ Anita says enthusiastically, ‘so I would say seize any opportunity you’ve got to do that. Take a step back, look at the overall business and see if there are any opportunities for you to add a few more strings to your bow.’
Thinking of making a move from TA into P&C? The Moving from Talent Acquisition to People & Culture podcast is made for you! Get all the tips and tricks of the trade you need to take your career in the direction you’ve always dreamed of.