Welcome back to our series on talent development. In our last blog, we heard from Felicity Dexter about how SFS has supported her professional development throughout her career and given her the flexibility to work in a wide variety of roles. This time, Emma Thomas – Change and Culture Facilitator at SFS, is here to tell us what she’s learnt during her time with SFS, and share with us her top tips for career success:
I’ve worked at SFS for almost 22 years, such a long tenure with one company is unusual these days but I am fortunate to have worked for a business where I have been able to grow and move into new opportunities.
Across my time with SFS I have worked in eight roles and have just moved into my ninth. These roles have included contribution and leadership at all levels of the sales hierarchy, operational management and leading strategic projects. In my latest role as Change and Culture Facilitator for COF I am able to utilise all the experience I’ve gained and connections I’ve made so far in my career to drive and support organisational change aligned to our strategic goals. It’s also another amazing opportunity to learn and grow from and with others.
Some of my key learnings in my career to date include:
1. Continuous learning is more than just buzz words
Having a learning mindset is, I believe, the most important factor in navigating a successful and fulfilling career. I’ve always been a curious person and enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone to try new things. I think of that uncomfortable feeling we all get when we are out of our comfort zone as ‘growing pain’ which helps me have the right mindset to embrace and seek out new opportunities that, at times, can feel daunting.
2. Self-awareness is essential.
I moved into my 1st management role quite early on in my career, and I remember the steep learning curve I went through at the time as I became acutely aware of the responsibility I had for my team. As leaders we cast a large shadow and it’s important to be aware of and humbled by this, and continually stay focused on developing your leadership capabilities. For me, tools like upward feedback sessions, 360 feedback, and regularly checking in with people to obtain in the moment feedback have helped me develop over the years.
3. Authentic connections matter.
I’ve always been a ‘people person’ which is one reason I was drawn to sales when I started out in my career as I wanted to be in a role where I was forming and building relationships. Over the years my confidence has increased – I remember lots of times early on when I felt the need to fit in and conform. As I matured, I came to realise that my greatest strength lies in my individuality. When I am myself this is where I add the most value, this is when I make the best connections with people, and ultimately this is where I am at my most fulfilled. There is no magic wand for getting comfortable in your own skin. For me actively getting involved in topics I am really passionate about- like diversity and inclusion - has been key. Each of us has so much to bring to the table and finding your passion can really help in unlocking your own confidence and finding your mojo.
If you’d like to learn more then feel free to get in touch with me via LinkedIn!
Emma Thomas, Change and Culture Facilitator
I am the change and culture facilitator and have been part of the Commercial Finance team at SFS for circa 22 years. I have worked in the financial services sector since graduating from university and been fortunate to hold a number of different roles, across different functions, in this time. With a strong commercial background, having operated in customer facing roles for over 15 years, I enjoy being able to collaborate across the business to drive and support successful change aligned to our business goals. I have always been a passionate advocate and champion on topics that link into organisational culture and I am so excited to have moved into a role that enables me to focus on this.
Outside of work I am a mother to 18 month old twin girls and am massively enjoying the crazy and fulfilling adventure that is parenting. I am a very keen traveller and look forward to showing my girls all that this world has to offer as they grow up. Alongside parenting I take great pleasure from a good book , visiting fun places with friends, and being outside in all the great parks I am lucky to live near as much as the English weather allows!