• YOU CAN NEVER START TOO YOUNG:  Success breeds success, often literally: the children of career high-fliers tend to be high-fliers themselves. This could be due to nature, nurture, connections, or just plain good advice. Management Today asked eight CEOs for their top tips for climbing the career ladder.

    YOU CAN NEVER START TOO YOUNG: Success breeds success, often literally: the children of career high-fliers tend to be high-fliers themselves. This could be due to nature, nurture, connections, or just plain good advice. Management Today asked eight CEOs for their top tips for climbing the career ladder.

  • HELP YOUR BOSS SUCCEED:  ‘Understand your boss’s needs and what would surprise them,’ says Paul Geddes, CEO of FTSE 100 Insurance giant Direct Line. ‘That way you know what to bring them and what not to bring them.

    HELP YOUR BOSS SUCCEED: ‘Understand your boss’s needs and what would surprise them,’ says Paul Geddes, CEO of FTSE 100 Insurance giant Direct Line. ‘That way you know what to bring them and what not to bring them.

  • HELP YOUR BOSS SUCCEED:  'It’s really important to know what’s going to make your boss successful and what they worry about, because anybody in your team that meets your needs and helps you do what you need to do, you think well of,’ adds Geddes.

    HELP YOUR BOSS SUCCEED: 'It’s really important to know what’s going to make your boss successful and what they worry about, because anybody in your team that meets your needs and helps you do what you need to do, you think well of,’ adds Geddes.

  • CAST A WIDE NET:  ‘Work in lots of different places,' says George Brasher, UK MD of HP Inc. He worked across several different functions over 26 years at the firm, and found the breadth of experience invaluable. ‘By going out doing things it will help you to figure out what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing.’

    CAST A WIDE NET: ‘Work in lots of different places,' says George Brasher, UK MD of HP Inc. He worked across several different functions over 26 years at the firm, and found the breadth of experience invaluable. ‘By going out doing things it will help you to figure out what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing.’

  • CAST A WIDE NET:  ‘The second reason is that by working in different places in an organisation you build your network, which is one of your biggest sources of strength,' says Brasher.

    CAST A WIDE NET: ‘The second reason is that by working in different places in an organisation you build your network, which is one of your biggest sources of strength,' says Brasher.

  • PUT DOWN ROOTS:  ‘Get great roots in something. Prove you can do something really well, don’t scamper around too much,' advises Lord Browne of Madingley, former CEO of BP. Quantity is good, he says, but it's no subsitute for quality.

    PUT DOWN ROOTS: ‘Get great roots in something. Prove you can do something really well, don’t scamper around too much,' advises Lord Browne of Madingley, former CEO of BP. Quantity is good, he says, but it's no subsitute for quality.

  • KEEP LEARNING:  The world’s most successful people never think they’re the ‘finished item,’ says Direct Line’s Paul Geddes. ‘They’re continually looking for feedback and self-improvement. It’s seeking out people that are good at things you’re not good at, and saying I’ll take you out for lunch if you’ll tell me the secret of how you’re good at what you do.’

    KEEP LEARNING: The world’s most successful people never think they’re the ‘finished item,’ says Direct Line’s Paul Geddes. ‘They’re continually looking for feedback and self-improvement. It’s seeking out people that are good at things you’re not good at, and saying I’ll take you out for lunch if you’ll tell me the secret of how you’re good at what you do.’

  • KEEP LEARNING:  ‘You need a thirst for self-improvement and self-development that’s not reliant on other people,' adds Geddes. 'Some people have an attitude of

    KEEP LEARNING: ‘You need a thirst for self-improvement and self-development that’s not reliant on other people,' adds Geddes. 'Some people have an attitude of "I’m fully baked, take me or leave" – they won’t get on as well as people that say "look, I’m hungry to learn and get on".’

  • LEARN TO CODE:  Some advice is more specific. ‘Learn to code.  You can always become a manager – in tech driven businesses, having that knowledge will help you be a better manager,’ says Richard Flint, CEO of Sky Bet (he does know how to code, incidentally).

    LEARN TO CODE: Some advice is more specific. ‘Learn to code. You can always become a manager – in tech driven businesses, having that knowledge will help you be a better manager,’ says Richard Flint, CEO of Sky Bet (he does know how to code, incidentally).

  • BE OPENLY AMBITIOUS:  ‘People shouldn’t be afraid to show their ambitions. Of course if somebody is sitting in front of you banging the table every week then that can get tiresome. But I think people shouldn’t be afraid to say they want to get on,’ says Direct Line's Geddes.

    BE OPENLY AMBITIOUS: ‘People shouldn’t be afraid to show their ambitions. Of course if somebody is sitting in front of you banging the table every week then that can get tiresome. But I think people shouldn’t be afraid to say they want to get on,’ says Direct Line's Geddes.

  • BUT STAY HUMBLE:  ‘There’s something about the ability and willingness to say you don’t know something and ask,' says Tom Monahan, Managing Partner of Norton Street Capital.

    BUT STAY HUMBLE: ‘There’s something about the ability and willingness to say you don’t know something and ask,' says Tom Monahan, Managing Partner of Norton Street Capital.

  • BUT STAY HUMBLE:  Acting, or indeed believing, that you have all the answers is a recipe for disaster. 'It requires a fair bit of humility, to say I don’t know everything, I’m very comfortable with not knowing anything, and asking for help,’ adds Monahan.

    BUT STAY HUMBLE: Acting, or indeed believing, that you have all the answers is a recipe for disaster. 'It requires a fair bit of humility, to say I don’t know everything, I’m very comfortable with not knowing anything, and asking for help,’ adds Monahan.

  • RESIST BECOMING TOO SPECIALISED:  To get to the top you need a various skills, not just expertise in a particular area. ‘Companies tend to specialise people, but the danger with that is you end up with quite narrow people,’ says Geddes. To resist, volunteer for something new.

    RESIST BECOMING TOO SPECIALISED: To get to the top you need a various skills, not just expertise in a particular area. ‘Companies tend to specialise people, but the danger with that is you end up with quite narrow people,’ says Geddes. To resist, volunteer for something new.

  • DON’T MOAN, MOVE:  ‘Nobody has the God-given right to be promoted,' says Javed Khan, CEO of £300m children's charity Barnardo's, who began in teaching, before taking going into local government then the voluntary sector. ‘People start playing the victim, moaning and groaning and saying the world’s against me. If you’ve tried and failed, move somewhere else.’

    DON’T MOAN, MOVE: ‘Nobody has the God-given right to be promoted,' says Javed Khan, CEO of £300m children's charity Barnardo's, who began in teaching, before taking going into local government then the voluntary sector. ‘People start playing the victim, moaning and groaning and saying the world’s against me. If you’ve tried and failed, move somewhere else.’

  • LEARN TO SELF-PROMOTE:  ‘If you want to position yourself in any way, shape or form, you have to put your opinions out there,' says Heather McGregor, CEO of recruitment firm Taylor Bennett.

    LEARN TO SELF-PROMOTE: ‘If you want to position yourself in any way, shape or form, you have to put your opinions out there,' says Heather McGregor, CEO of recruitment firm Taylor Bennett.

  • LEARN TO SELF-PROMOTE:  Success in the gig economy, McGregor says, requires a degree of personal branding. 'If I were 22 now, I’d have my own blog. I’d make sure all my opinions were in one place, I’d have them well researched and well backed up with links to the raw material. And then people come and find you.'

    LEARN TO SELF-PROMOTE: Success in the gig economy, McGregor says, requires a degree of personal branding. 'If I were 22 now, I’d have my own blog. I’d make sure all my opinions were in one place, I’d have them well researched and well backed up with links to the raw material. And then people come and find you.'

  • RETRAIN... OR EMIGRATE:  ‘When I started my career as an engineer, it was a case of do your degree, do your apprenticeship, become an engineer and stay an engineer. Now, my children are going to have to accept they will probably have to retrain several times. You need to be resilient and persistent,' says Alistair Cox, CEO of FTSE 250 recruitment firm Hays.

    RETRAIN... OR EMIGRATE: ‘When I started my career as an engineer, it was a case of do your degree, do your apprenticeship, become an engineer and stay an engineer. Now, my children are going to have to accept they will probably have to retrain several times. You need to be resilient and persistent,' says Alistair Cox, CEO of FTSE 250 recruitment firm Hays.

  • RETRAIN... OR EMIGRATE:  'Going and working in a different country is one of the best things you can do in your career,’ adds Cox, who’s worked in the US, UK, Norway and Malaysia. ‘International experience – learning how to operate in a completely different culture – is invaluable.’

    RETRAIN... OR EMIGRATE: 'Going and working in a different country is one of the best things you can do in your career,’ adds Cox, who’s worked in the US, UK, Norway and Malaysia. ‘International experience – learning how to operate in a completely different culture – is invaluable.’

  • IT'S ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE:  ‘Attitude is ultimately what will distinguish people,’ says Geddes. ‘People will only be hired into a company if they’re pretty smart and have got a certain amount of skills. But that attitude – thirst for learning, thirst for development, thirst for results – sets people apart.’

    IT'S ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE: ‘Attitude is ultimately what will distinguish people,’ says Geddes. ‘People will only be hired into a company if they’re pretty smart and have got a certain amount of skills. But that attitude – thirst for learning, thirst for development, thirst for results – sets people apart.’

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The careers advice CEOs give their kids

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 26 Feb 2018

Images: Shutterstock

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