View from the board: sometimes a sideways move is a step up

It used to be that the average age of FTSE 100 FDs was in the 50s. I wouldn’t
want to guess the exact number, but I am confident it is considerably lower than
that now.

People are qualifying, and then trying to charge through their career as
quickly as possible to get to their dream job as fast as they can.

However, there is another point to consider. Sometimes taking your time, and
perhaps making a sideways move, is actually the best way to move forward.

The debate is around whether or not the role in question is an upwards move
for them. And this leads us to the short-term v medium-term debate.

You see, some roles are an automatic upwards move. You are the divisional FD
of a mid-ranking business and are offered the chance to be the FD of BP ­ I
guess I get a bottle of champagne if I make that happen.

However, some roles are not such an obvious, automatic upward step. For
instance, you are the divisional FD in a FTSE and you are offered the number two
role in a FTSE. Or you’re the number two in a FTSE and you’re offered the chance
to be the number two in another FTSE , or as a divisional FD.

By purely focusing on the title, or the hierarchical move up the ladder, you
ignore all of the other aspects you need to make your career successful.

These include exposure to different operating environments; experience of a
variety of sectors and; international experience; PLC and US-listed operating
processes ­ the list is endless. And sometimes experience of these is more
important, or at least as important, as getting the next step up.

To help prove my point, let me tell you a story. A candidate was offered two
roles ­ FD of a FTSE 150 company, or number two in a FTSE 100.

Which role did he take? Number two in a FTSE 100.

And what role is he doing now? Number one in the same company, through
internal promotion.
Maybe medium-term should be the new short-term…

Mark Freebairn is a partner at Odgers Ray &

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