My cohort and I were treated to our very first Masterclass in March with Mr. Charles Lewington of Hanover Communications. The offices of Hanover situated on the Thames’ Southbank offered the cohort a wonderful backdrop to an informative and candid Masterclass from Mr Lewington. Throughout his time with us we covered a range of topics such as career progression, handling a crisis and good qualities in a leader. I found these topics and others during the masterclass to be particularly pertinent to the questions that I am asking myself as my personal progression transitions from the end of university into the job market.
I am about to approach a crossroads as my undergraduate degree comes to an end this summer, I’m still not sure what direction I wish to take my career into. For perhaps the first time in my life what I’ll be doing next year is unknown to me. I find this stage in my professional development simultaneously exciting and daunting. Mr Lewington’s story and advice helped me to view this next step in a better light. He spoke of also not knowing what he wished to do with his own career after his University degree ended. The high level of success that Mr Lewington was able to attain despite a lack of direction initially in his career was encouraging to hear. Mr Lewington continued with advice to those at the start of their careers, urging us to go explore the working world and gain experience to help us find that which we truly enjoy before committing to one career long term.
Applying to various companies and trying new roles that push you outside of your comfort zone involves a trial-and-error approach. Mr Lewington was firm in his assertion that the best thing we could do in the hunt for our professional pathways was to always take on the biggest opportunities offered to us, no matter how big the challenge may be. It is through pushing ourselves and heading into uncharted territory that we learn and grow the most, which is something that I wholeheartedly agree with.
Another notable topic Mr Lewington covered that I found insightful was crisis management. Inevitably in life and careers there will be periods of crisis when something sudden shakes all your best laid plans. Resilience to crises is critical in the world of Mr Lewington’s business and politics (and I’m sure many other industries). I listened carefully as Mr Lewington was asked how he deals with crises arising in his business. I think his advice is easily transferable to many different environments as well. He stressed how critically important it is to have a great depth of understanding before any action is taken in handling a crisis. The subsequent important steps are to have a detailed plan to deal with the crisis and ensure that all stakeholders are on board and in unison. Mr Lewington had high praise for those with personalities that crave knowledge, his reasoning for this is exemplified by how valuable he suggested it was to ask the right information gathering questions during a crisis. He stated that he liked “inquisitive people” as they would naturally learn about issues, create potential contacts, and build good connections in the world of business. As I was listening, I asked myself if I met this requirement of curiosity; I concluded that I have always been inquisitive and probing. Funnily enough, I even had the nickname of “Info Dan” in school because my friends saw that I always had some new random snippet of knowledge to impart on them at the most unexpected times. It was good to see how this quirky trait in me can hopefully be utilised in my career, and better help me to manage crises when they come knocking on the door.
Overall Mr Lewington’s Masterclass was a great experience which has set my expectations very high for the rest of the Masterclasses this year. There are far too many takeaways from this event for this blog post to cover them all, but for me these were some of the most interesting takeaways from the session.
Written by Daniel Rowson, 2022 Patchwork Masterclass Participant