Liz Heathwood leads global people strategy and change management projects at EY. Initially, Liz started her career as a school teacher, teaching drama and music along with choir, violin and hip-hop dance before pivoting into a Business degree and transitioning into Human Resources. Following her transition to the HR field, she has held high ranking roles at organisations from Visy group to Clayton Utz to her current employer EY. Liz also has a passion for mentoring and sharing her wisdom on panels, podcast interviews and public speaking events.
I absolutely loved Liz’s contribution. Here are her Top 5 Pearls of Wisdom:
- Be so good they can’t ignore you – mastery of skills leads to passion, not the other way around. Not my words, but the words of Cal Newport, Georgetown professor and author of ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. He takes issue with the ‘follow your dreams’ statements and goes against typical ‘follow your passion’ type statements. But he concludes through scientific research that you are far more likely to be successful by focussing on what you naturally excel at rather than finding something that ‘drives’ you. This resonates with me so much with where I’m at in my career and wish I had this advice at the beginning of my career. I finally feel through my current role and developing my strengths that I’ve found what I’m good at and this leads into my purpose and passion to start to do things outside of my usual role that interests me.
- Be bold – earn your credibility through your voice. People don’t get ahead by being a fence sitter. Have a point of view and put yourself out there. I always advise others to do this respectfully of course and at the right time in a conversation but you may be surprised at the response. People like it when you give intelligent thought and comment on things. You don’t always have to agree with them. Challenge their thinking where appropriate and where you think differently. I actually have found it’s a quick way to build credibility with stakeholders because they then value your expertise and perspective.
- Think beyond the operational – Jump off the day-to-day mouse wheel. This is applicable for both graduates and leaders. Being strategic is a skill. To be successful you have to get off the wheel, reflect and take stock of where you are at. Sometimes we are so caught up in the day-to-day operations we don’t stop and think about where we are headed. Think big picture, not activities. Ask questions like: What are we trying to achieve? How will my current actions make me successful? This can be with your career or the direction of a business. Have a plan and be deliberate in your actions in how you are building where you want to get to.
- Build your brand – I underestimated this early in my career. I’m not underestimating it now. The power of your brand is crucial to career success. Your next job may not be through a job ad but through the networks around you. Always remember those people you are building relationships with right now early in your career will progress with you and they could potentially become your clients so start cultivating relationships now. Think about what you want your brand to be internal in an organisation and external. This is important. Start small and chip away at it.
- Be prepared to learn, relearn and adapt – This one speaks for itself and is the wise words of future of work strategist Heather McGowan in her book ‘The Adaptation Advantage’. It’s all about how we can thrive in the future of work as individuals and as leaders. We must continuously adapt, let things go and embrace new things. Have a hunger for learning. I really believe microlearning is a great and fast way to build your expertise for busy people. I of course love reading but it can be hard when you are busy so I frequently use podcasts as a way to consume learning on the go. There are so many experts out there talking about various topics and best practice you can learn from. It’s a great platform to leverage.
If you would like to hear more of Liz’s advice check out the following podcast episodes:
Or connect with Liz on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizheathwood/