Reed’s specialist supply chain & logistics recruiters will help you find the perfect job – whether you are searching for entry-level roles or senior director and leadership positions. We ensure that we fully understand your requirements so that we can provide a service focused on you taking your next career step.
George gained several years experience in Human Resources, Talent Acquisition and organizational development, working with a focus on tech enablement in the staffing industry. He specialises in the recruitment of professionals in the logistics and supply chain sector, working with domestic and international companies ranging from independent transport providers to large multinational companies.
New year, new skills: public speaking
The thought of public speaking usually conjures up one of two things for professionals: terror or acceptance. It rarely seems to be something anyone looks forward to or enjoys, unless you’re blessed with natural stage presence, witty repartee, and profound confidence.If you’re looking for a new challenge, learning how to overcome your fears and/or make improvements to your overall presentation style could be one of the best things you do for yourself this year. Not only can it be a huge benefit in your career, but it can also help with life in general – enabling you to speak with confidence and eloquence in situations that may be challenging.Soft skills such as public speaking are highly sought after – and are vital in leadership roles. With dedication and practise, it’s possible for anxious or shy people to finesse their presentation skills and learn how to deliver to any audience. William Hagerup, President of the 104 London Debaters, has been involved with Toastmasters for more than 10 years. He took up public speaking initially for his work which led to it becoming a hobby and passion. At the London club, he mentors people in the art of debate – an exciting challenge for those who have already mastered the art of public speaking.Q: How transformative can public speaking skills be in the workplace?A:In the workplace, the ability to speak confidently and present in a convincing way can be powerful.Good communication skills can encourage people to get on board with your ideas, regardless of your role. For example, speaking well can make all the difference if you need to sell a product or your own skills in a job interview.Q: Ahead of a presentation, aside from testing any equipment, what key things should the individual do to help their confidence?A:It’s very important to understand what makes your presentation successful, to help you gain confidence."As part of your rehearsal, it’s worth recording your presentation. Watching yourself can be painful, but it’s a useful exercise to help you spot habits or ticks." William Hagerup Club President of Toastmasters' 104 London Debaters clubAs part of your rehearsal, it’s worth recording your presentation. Watching yourself can be painful, but it’s a useful exercise to help you spot habits or ticks – I used to have a tendency of moving my head too much. If you’re far away from the audience people may not notice these things, but if you’re projected on a big screen, or in an online meeting, the camera magnifies you which can be very distracting for the audience.It’s also useful to get feedback from a trusted mentor, friend, or a colleague who is more experienced, and who can give you some honest feedback.Q: Introverts and extroverts – can they master public speaking in the same way? A: It’s often easier for extroverts to stand up in front of people, but it’s okay to have different presentation styles if you don’t have that confidence. The important thing is to find your voice and a way that you can be you in front of people without being too nervous, finding peace in being just the way you are. Extroverts, like myself, have one disadvantage in that we can sometimes have an unsubstantiated self-confidence which can lead to a lack of focus, perhaps not communicating in the best way. The introvert tends to be much more careful with their preparation, making sure they have everything clear for the audience, with their PowerPoint and with what they say. I’ve often seen examples of this with the nervous, wobbly-voiced introvert outshining the confident extrovert whose presentation is rushed or disjointed. Q: Handling nerves – what to do when your throat goes dry before you’ve said a word? A: If your nerves are debilitating so that you just can’t deliver, you should practise well in advance. I’ve found breathing slowly and deeply really helps just before you start, and then look away from the audience. Perhaps the introduction is being given before you speak and your heart is pounding – use the moment to look out of the window to distract yourself, just don’t look at the audience. Once you take the podium and you're in the focus, look over their heads and scan back and forth, so you only pretend to look at them – fake it till you make it. Gradually your confidence will build because you’ve realised the sky didn’t fall down and no one is throwing things at you. But still don't look at the audience because sometimes if you’re nervous and start looking at people’s faces for reassurance, it can put you off your stride, especially if they’re not very receptive. Only when your nerves are under control should you start to make eye contact, if you wish. Q: Delivery – can you share any tips for keeping to a designated time slot? A: Preparation again is the key. Run through it a few times and use a timer. A good rule of thumb is to use about 100 words a minute, which is a fairly slow speaking pace but a good one to help the audience follow you. Also, it gives a bit of leeway so that if you do improvise and add things that come to mind as you’re speaking, you have enough space to do that."You should never read from your PowerPoint slides or from a script as it’s really boring. Only refer to them for key points, graphs or pictures that will help engage the audience." William HagerupClub President of Toastmasters' 104 London Debaters clubYou should never read from your PowerPoint slides or from a script as it’s really boring. Only refer to them for key points, graphs or pictures that will help engage the audience and jog your memory if you need it. If you run through that a few times with a timer, you can give a fluent presentation without speaking too fast.If you do need notes to hand, print them large enough that you don’t have to peer at the paper as you’re speaking. You can just have them as a reminder. Index cards are a good idea because you can hold them without fumbling with a big piece of paper, which can act as a barrier between you and the audience. If you are inexperienced or very nervous, write down the main points.Q: When the tech goes wrong – how should you regain composure when the PowerPoint fails?A:It’s good to prepare a joke in advance. If you’re able to say something funny when something goes wrong, it takes the edge off the situation. Perhaps just have an ‘emergency’ question ready to put to the audience or ask if they have any questions.If your presentation depends on you showing some graphs or papers, you might have some print-outs ready to share rather than waiting for something to be fixed, which may take a long time.I think it’s generally better not to rely too much on just one technology. Always think of backups. Q: Presenting online – what common pitfalls are there to avoid?A:The basics are having good light so your face is bright. The sound is very important and should be tested in advance, perhaps with a friend. It might be worth investing in a slightly better microphone which can make a big difference. And then I’d say the position of the camera is important. You don’t want it too far up so that people are looking down at you, and not too far down, because then it looks like you’re standing over them like a strict headmaster.Speakers sometimes get concerned that they need to look at the various screens and look at people’s faces, but audience members often turn off their cameras. I just ignore that a little bit and write my keywords on a document placed on the screen underneath where my camera is, so I’m looking in the direction of the camera. It's not noticeable for the audience because my eyes are in that direction, so they think I'm looking at them. So that’s quite a nice way of doing it and once I finish, I can just take the notes away and more fully engage with people. I also often ask if it’s possible for everyone to turn on their cameras, because it’s a bit disconcerting talking to a blank screen or staring at their avatars. And it’s easier for them to zone out and start doing other things and not really pay attention when their cameras are off.Q: Q&A time – what if you don’t know the answer?A:I’m quite strict on this so I would say you should’ve done your homework better. I don’t think one should show up for a presentation if you haven't researched your subject thoroughly. There’s no real excuse for lack of preparation – you’re either showing disrespect for your audience or complete ineptitude if you’re not ready to answer any relevant question.Of course, if it’s not relevant, it’s perfectly fair to say, “I'm sorry, I don’t think that's relevant. It’s not something that is specifically to do with what I said, so I’m not going to be able to answer that one now, but we can talk about it perhaps afterwards or in a different setting”.If something comes up unexpectedly that you ought to have researched, you’re going to have to be honest and say you haven’t explored that in depth but will be happy to go back to them with an answer through the contact details of the meeting organiser.Looking for a new challenge in 2024? Get in touch with one of our expert consultants today.
The evolution of the CIO: an evolving role
Technology has become ingrained in almost every part of business life – no matter the industry or sector.As employers have learned to survive in unstable market conditions, they’ve come to realise the value of having an innovative and business-focused chief information officer (CIO).With technology advancing at an unprecedented pace, the traditional responsibilities of the CIO have expanded, with their role becoming increasingly important to the success of an organisation. In today’s business world, CIOs are required to not only manage IT infrastructure and systems, but also to drive forward and align technology initiatives with overarching business goals.The changing roleHistorically, the CIO's primary focus has been on overseeing the implementation and maintenance of technology systems within an organisation. However, as businesses have become more reliant on technology for their operations and growth, the role has evolved to encompass a broader set of responsibilities.Today, CIOs are expected to be strategic business partners who are there to help enhance operational efficiency and leverage technology to create competitive advantages – maximising the return on the company’s investment in technology. In other words, it’s now essential for a CIO to focus not only on cost savings, but on using technology to add value and increase revenue for the business.CIOs are now required to collaborate closely with other c-suite executives to align technology initiatives with overall business objectives, identify opportunities for digital transformation, and mitigate potential risks associated with technology adoption. It’s an exciting era, as CIOs now have the chance to be transformational leaders who can harness technological advancements and data to consolidate their tech stacks and gain efficiency.Challenges in staying up to dateStaying current with the latest technological developments can be a considerable challenge. The rapid pace of innovation, coupled with the proliferation of widespread AI technologies, presents a daunting task for CIOs looking to stay informed and ready to address the potential impact these technologies can have on their organisation.According to digital adoption platform, Userlane, and leading consultancy, PwC, almost two thirds of CIOs surveyed were concerned that the state of the economy will affect their digital transformation plans. But at the same time, 62% plan to deepen their investment in technology, illustrating just how important technology integration now is at leadership level.One of the biggest challenges is offering digital services that are safe and secure for the consumer, which makes cybersecurity a number one priority for the majority of CIOs; their responsibility is to protect the systems and data that shareholders and stakeholders entrust them with.As cyber threats become more sophisticated, CIOs must continually evaluate and implement robust security measures to safeguard their organisations' data and infrastructure.Understanding the capabilities of AIGiven the uptake in generative AI across the workplace, it’s no surprise that AI is expected to shape the future of business. Large language models (LLMs) will continue to play a part in generating documentation on business processes, designing training programmes, and writing and rewriting code.AI has been hotly anticipated by technology departments for a while, but has only recently reached a point where its potential benefits, capabilities, and enhancements, have become clear. CIOs are being asked to learn what AI is capable of and how it can be harnessed to competitive or strategic advantage across the business – similar to the adoption of any other technology.More recently, generative AI is offering an entry point for companies looking to spearhead investment decisions. Rather than manually researching information, CIOs have the ability to use generative AI to summarise markets, telling them where to look and where to harness department energy.Managing business needsThis transformation now sees CIOs juggling evolving responsibilities, to shape their departments. This requires a thorough understanding of their organisation's strategic objectives – helped by their c-suite role – as well as the ability to identify and prioritise technology initiatives that will best support those objectives.As the role grows, it’s important for CIOs to develop and maintain strong relationships with other business leaders and departments, gaining insights into their challenges and opportunities, and leveraging technology to address them. As a company grows, so does the amount of data, which makes having an innovative leader and strong IT department even more essential.We’re seeing CIOs steering the ship, promoting continuous improvement within their teams, while further encouraging the exploration of new technologies to drive meaningful change to stay competitive, relevant, and secure.The sooner companies realise the true value of the CIO position, the better their chances of success.To find a talented tech professional for your company, or to take the next step in your career, contact our specialist technology recruiters now.
Top 10 soft skills you need to work in finance
When searching for a role in finance, it's often not what you know, but what you can offer. Job hunters have long been told to list, and give prominence to, technical skills on their CVs, but finance sector employers are increasingly looking for candidates with interpersonal abilities known as ‘soft skills'. Demonstrating these 10 characteristics will help candidates with finance skills prove their value in the workplace.Communication skills needed in financeGood communicators are in demand across a range of industries, and they're vital in fields that require employees to explain their specialist knowledge to others. Whatever your finance skills, an aptitude for number crunching won't get you far in finance if you can't justify and explain your calculations.Negotiation skills needed in financeWhether you're closing a deal or managing expectations, it's important to know how to fight your corner without ruffling any feathers. An aptitude for negotiation will allow finance professionals to reach an agreement that benefits all parties. Failure to compromise effectively can create frustration and damage interpersonal relationships or, at worst, result in loss of revenue for a business. Having a demonstrable knack for negotiation will put you ahead in any financial enterprise.Influencing skills for finance jobsFinance professionals must be prepared to explain how their objectives are mutually beneficial and anticipate objections. If, as a financial skills example, an investment banker wants to sell off a stake in a joint venture, he or she must be able to show how this will benefit the bank – even if some colleagues disagree.Critical thinkingA critical thinker objectively analyses or conceptualizes a situation from a balanced perspective. Often, customers and clients will look to financial professionals to rationally evaluate a scenario – be it a ledger or the performance of a stock. In fast-paced business environments, a poorly thought-out decision can cost a company time and money. So the ability to make critically-informed choices is crucial for modern finance professionals.FlexibilityFlexible employees are capable of weathering change and staying productive in high-pressure situations. Good stockbrokers provide the most dramatic example of this: their day-to-day work revolves around coping with constant fluctuation and determining the best course of action. However, cultivating a flexible mindset also means being able to see through the eyes of others and understand their motivations. A flexible finance professional will always ask: "Why might someone think this way?"ResilienceResilience refers to one's ability to bounce back after facing adversity. While this is an important skill in any workplace, it's especially important in high-pressure situations. Being able to cope with changing circumstances, having confidence in your ability to deliver, and thinking carefully about what you're trying to achieve can prove valuable – particularly in financial roles.CollaborationIt's no secret that top-level financiers are on the lookout for team players. In the financial sector, it has become increasingly common to work across multiple teams and geographies to achieve a shared goal. Someone who approaches group-working scenarios with an open mind and a willingness to listen will benefit any team.Problem-solving skills for finance jobsEffective problem solvers identify the issue at hand, weigh up their options quickly, and make a firm decision about the best course of action. Those who excel at problem-solving can drive an organization forward and will earn the respect of their colleagues by offering meaningful input in even the toughest situations.EmpathyIt's a common misconception that roles focused on data and numbers require a detached approach – empathy should never be undervalued in finance. Clients often seek financial advice during stressful life events, and dealing with someone who has suffered a loss requires a different approach from a couple seeking their first mortgage.An empathetic person shows that he or she cares. In displaying understanding, finance professionals will also build trust in their relationships with co-workers and clients.It's not enough to simply tell an employer you have the soft skills they're looking for. Instead, strive to demonstrate your skillset by offering examples from previous job roles and highlighting talents you've developed outside of the workplace. Remember, employers are always seeking the right personality for the job – not just a list of positions and qualifications.Interpersonal skillsInterpersonal skills are vital in this sector, to communicate effectively with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders regularly. It may be necessary to speak to people overseas and understand how different cultures prefer to interact too. Some people are naturally good at this, while others may find it takes practice, perhaps through a training course or taking the initiative to steadily improve their communication skills and confidence until it becomes second nature.How to identify your own soft skills for financeReflect on your reactions to tense situations at work and compare them to those of managers and co-workers you admire.Prepare answers to interview questions that screen for soft skills, such as those about workplace experience in problem-solving and collaboration.Ask current or past colleagues to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. They may be able to offer insights you hadn't previously considered.Consider your strengths in relation to the job you want to apply for so you can be confident about the criteria you already fulfill and areas that you can develop on the job.How to acquire new soft skills for finance jobsMake a conscious effort to improve your soft skills every day – remember, they're attributes to develop, not innate qualities.Take up skill-building hobbies in your leisure time. Something as simple as a cooking class might prepare you to prioritize tasks and work under pressure.Ask for help and feedback from colleagues and senior staff in your workplace.Enrol in a course designed to build soft skills, such as those offered by Reed.