Navigating your career: PIC2013 session write-up

This post focusses on Navigating your career, a presentation delivered by Malcolm Bryant, Managing Director & Head of Corporate Services for EMEA & Asia, Morgan Stanley, at the Perfect Information conference I attended in May. You can read my overall impressions from the conference over at the SLA Europe blog.

Malcolm began with a memorable analogy: Managing your career is like going to the dentist. We all know we should go. Sometimes we don’t go as often as we should. And some people don’t go at all.

Navigating your career
Navigating your career

Malcolm said something obvious, but important. No ones going to come along and manage your career for you. You personal development is your responsibility, not your manager’s.The first element of taking charge of your career is to plan.

Ask yourself what motivates you? Is it financial, getting tasks done, the people you work with, career progression, or lifestyle and work/life balance? Evaluate you’re job; write down what you like and dislike about your job.Your ‘likes’ are opportunities to increase scope, add value, and improve skills. And discuss these with your boss/colleagues. Your dislikes can form suggestions for change. Discuss these with your boss – even minor improvements are worth it.

What do you want to be doing in 3-5 years? This is a good amount to be looking forward, as 6 months can be too immediate, and 10 years too far – anything can happen! I found this a very helpful piece of advice. I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years time, it’s too far to comprehend, and my 6 months’ goals are very much driven by my current role and its priorities. 

The second important aspect of your career development is networks.

There are typical excuses for not networking: it’s too political, a fear of rejection, you may feel too junior. But career won’t take care of itself. The benefits of networking can be internal and external to your organisation, including a better understanding of your firm, benchmarking, and feedback.

The final part of Malcom’s advice for navigating your career was some concrete steps to take in the next 90 days:


  • Evaluate your job, your likes/dislikes, and tweak it.
  • Think about the next 3-5 years – possible future roles, do a gap analysis, write it down and discuss with your manager.
  • Using these, come up with personal development plan


  • Think about first impressions. It’s worth prepping yourself for introducing yourself, i.e. What am I working on? Like an elevator pitch for existing contacts.
  • 6 month rule – keep existing relationships warm. Keep in touch with your contacts, e.g. send them an email with ‘I saw this article and thought of you’, congratulations on a recent award etc

Malcolm’s talk was helpful, and comforting as I am already doing much of this as part of the Chartership process. It was interesting to hear advice that was pertinent to me at this stage of my career, but I am sure many senior managers in the room also found something of use in it too.

Will I do these things in the 90 days post-PIC2013? I haven’t yet – I’ve been away, and catching up from being away, which just goes to show even these simple tasks need active attention given to them.

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