9 nuggets of career advice from successful women

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  • Your new career commandments to live by.

    Career success can be hard to navigate – especially as a woman, when repressive stereotypes of ‘bossy’ or ‘cut-throat’ female professionals can often discourage us from climbing the ladder. But with women making up just over a third of roles in the boardrooms of Britain’s FTSE-100 companies, and just under a third (32.37%) of UK business owners, it’s important we power through.

    One of the best ways to empower ourselves for success is to listen to the wise words of those who have carved out their paths before us. And that’s exactly why we asked the judges of this year’s Marie Claire Future Shapers Awards (which will be announced later this month) to share their most valuable career tips.

    On the judging panel of the 2021 Future Shapers Awards – helping us to pick out 10 people who are trailblazing in their industries and laying foundations for positive change – is Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, fitness influencer and entrepreneur Grace Beverley, Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Andrea Thompson, and co-founder of women’s member’s club AllBright, Anna Jones.

    We asked these four women, each of whom is at the top of their game in their respective industries, to impart the career advice they live by. Hopefully, these nuggets of wisdom will stick with you throughout your own career, helping you to push yourself to be the best you can be at work every day.

    The career tips you won’t want to forget…

    1. Find your champions

    “In a hierarchical workplace, you need champions. Who are those people who believe in you and your efforts? If you don’t have one (or more) yet, you need to identify them. These people will not only build your confidence through their confidence in you, but they’ll also provide an authoritative voice of support and be able to champion your ideas in rooms where you aren’t present,” says Grace Beverley.

    Anna Jones agrees, adding that she strongly believes in “the power of sisterhood” when it comes to guiding you through the good times and the bad. “My own sisterhood have been with me from the very beginning; their different experiences and perspectives have helped me through many challenges. They have kept me balanced and centred and have been integral to my career journey,” Anna tells Marie Claire.

    2. Remember your values and stick to them

    For Marie Claire’s Editor-in-Chief Andrea Thompson, it’s vital to “work out what values are really important to you and build a career that is as closely aligned with them as possible.”

    3. Accept that your ‘plan’ may change

    “Having an end goal will always keep you focused but knowing that your mind and opportunities will change is part of the adventure,” says Clara Amfo. “Getting from point A to B in a smooth line is the dream – but you may surprise yourself with a path you didn’t plan on, taking you to exactly where you want to be.” The bottom line? “You’re not too ‘BIG’ for any starter role or job, every opportunity is a learning tool.” Wise words.

    4. Know your boundaries

    “Saying ‘no’ doesn’t come easy to many of us, me included,” admits Anna. “I’ve really had to hone my ability to politely, but firmly, draw boundaries that allow for sustainable ways of working. Burnout is real and it creeps up without us noticing. Getting comfortable and confident pushing back in the right way has been fundamental to my career success.”

    5. Never stop learning

    “Remember too that the best way to get good at something is by practising it. Some of my favourite ways of doing this are also the cheapest: reading articles and studies, reading books and watching YouTube videos,” suggests Grace. “You don’t need a degree to become knowledgeable on a subject,” she adds.

    6. Find something you love and it won’t feel like work

    Clara Amfo thinks the secret to working hard is loving what you do. “I know ‘persistence’ gets thrown about a lot but IMHO persistence is best fulled by being in love with what you want to do, and understanding the core reasons why you want to do it. Knowing what truly drives your core values around your career gets you half way there,” she advises.”

    7. ‘Failure’ isn’t a bad thing

    “The advice I’d pass on is not to worry too much about the setbacks. In hindsight, career ‘failures’ often turn out to be opportunities in disguise,” says Andrea.

    8. Celebrate your successes – and keep focussed on them

    “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my career is to pause, look back and celebrate your wins, big and small,” shares Anna Jones. “It’s so important to take time to reflect on your achievements – and the achievements of your colleagues – to ensure you maintain perspective and momentum as you move forward. There are so many competing demands on our time that celebration is often the first thing to get taken off the list and that’s wrong, it’s an important factor in the health and direction of your career.”

    Success is something Grace also recommends keeping focussed on. “Define success for yourself constantly,” she advises. “Constantly check in with yourself and what success means to you. Has it changed? Do you really want that or does someone else want that for you? Keep course correcting and set weekly and monthly goals to reach your overall yearly goals that lead to your big milestone objectives.”

    9. Know your worth outside of work

    This is an important one, because work shouldn’t define everything about you. “When you are passionate about your career, it’s easy to confuse being good at your job with your value as human,” says Clara Amfo. “You are great person regardless of where you are on your career ladder. So with that I say: really try to maintain a good balance of aiming for your goals and the things you like to do for pure JOY that are nothing to do with work. You’ll thank yourself later!”

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