Quiz the management expert

In November we were delighted to welcome a panel of management experts to the forum to answer your questions on the hot management topics of the day.

Narinder Uppal imageNarinder Uppal, Director of Qualifications, CMI.

Narinder joined the CMI in March 2009 and since her arrival launched and developed a successful ‘Ambassador Programme’ and also created an engagement proposition for the Companions of the Institute.   Last year she moved to the role of the Director of Awarding Body for the CMI which brings responsibility of developing a portfolio of regulated professional management qualifications, management of the network of delivery partners and the maintenance and improvement of the quality of teaching and learning.

Previously she headed up the International part of the business at The Chartered Institute of Marketing where she enjoyed a number of years developing international markets in the Far East, Africa, Middle East and India.  She has also spent many years lecturing in Universities and Colleges where her passion for marketing, management and education has been achievable.

Narinder is very committed and passionate about the impact that management and leadership has on individuals and organisations.  Spare time is dedicated to the art of shopping! 

Sarah MilburnSarah Milburn, Director of Talent, Philips Electronics.

Sarah Milburn is an HR Professional with over 15 years experience in the private sector. Her experience covers all areas of strategic HR including management development, recruitment and retention, HR strategy and ensuring that the HR function continually supports the long term business goals of the organisation.

In her current role she is responsible for the recruitment and talent life cycle of the Philips workforce  to ensure they meet the current and future business needs.

As a mother of two Sarah works flexibly and balances her day to day role with the needs of her hectic family life! 

Paul MowatPaul Mowat, Test Architect Lead, Accenture

Paul Mowat works at Accenture. He has a varied background and specialises in Software Testing having gained over 12 years’ experience in this field across multiple industries, (C&HT, FS, Gov, Products, & TCoE). His primary focus is managing the delivery of all testing phases both functional and non-functional Testing using distributed teams, driving test efficiencies, implementing process improvements (TMMi) & innovation through the use of automated tools, reduced rework, duplication of processes and inefficiencies to improve productivity.

He has experience in setting up Managed Testing Services and Test Centre of Excellence (TCoE), interviewing and he also leads a Core Testing skills Group with approx. 240 people, building a community through regular events, newsletter, 1-2-1’s, and CV reviews. 

The discussion

CMI: Welcome to this live on-line chat.

We've got about 10 minutes to go before our experts will join the debate but in the meantime feel free to start posting your questions.

CMI: As we're ready to go perhaps each of our three experts would like to say a quick Hello and introduce themselves?

Paul Mowat: My name is Paul - currently been working for Accenture for the past 5 years in IT.

Paul Mowat: Looking forward to hear what people think on the topic of management...   

Narinder: Good afternoon, if you want any any advice on how qualifications can help with your career progression, please post a question for me. I personally worked myself up the career ladder by studying part-time and take advantage of all the opportunities offered.

Sarah Milburn: Hi all, I'm online looking forward to hearing your questions.   

Adam: Hi everyone. My question is about skills development. Obviously it's key to have a skilled workforce, but is the responsibility on the individual or the organisation to upskill?

CMI: Good question Adam, who would like to take this first?

 Sarah Milburn: I’d love to comment  

CMI: Ok Sarah, over to you.

Paul Mowat: I'll add my thoughts on this too...

Sarah Milburn: Working for a very commercial organisation I strongly believe it’s about creating a culture and environment where there are plentiful relevant opportunities available so that an individual can take responsibility to manage their own development.

CMI: Narinder, obviously this is a big part of your role, what are your views?

Narinder: To ensure that you have access to opportunities it is important that you individually invest in your own development and gain relevant qualifications that will give you a competitive advantage. Through your organisation you can access and focus on particular skill development. Nowadays you need both qualifications and experience to keep yourself ahead.

CMI: Thanks Sarah. Do you think there is a role for a manager to play in the process as well?

Mark R: I'm thinking of moving into consultancy as I feel that I am not fulfilling my potential in my current role. Any tips on how to go about this?

Paul Mowat: Also you have to remember that the workforce is becoming more skilled and if you are not developing you may get left behind.

Paul Mowat: There is a good site called Top Consultant  

Sarah Milburn: Absolutely, a manager's input is vital in coaching, sponsoring and often creating opportunities for individuals.   

Adam: So the individual identifies opportunities and the employer foots the bill?

Paul Mowat: Make sure you are ready to be flexible and be available to travel....

CMI: What does Top Consultant offer Paul?

Paul Mowat: Good employers will always keep the best of their employees

Narinder: Mark, working as a consultant is a great role, but it requires a specialist knowledge area as it is also a very competitive marketplace. There are qualifications and awards through the Institute of Consulting that would point you in the direction as the more credibility you have the better.   

Paul Mowat: Discussion boards, job listings...

CMI: Ok, thanks all, interesting answers.

Paul Mowat: Narinder I agree. One requires not just good communication skills which seems to be a given today but also the ability to influence, report to multiple stakeholders, and most of adpat to change in a domain in which you have the knowledge.

CMI: We have a question now from Kylie on how to make your CV stand out. Sarah, would you like to start us off?   

Kylie: What is the best way to make my CV stand out from all the others that will be hitting employers desks?

Sarah Milburn: For me it’s about simplicity, to the point and no longer than 2 pages. this may seem like a cliche, but so many people get it wrong, I look for real achievements and successes and always look for confirmation on the difference somebody has made whilst they have been at an organisation. The education and other factual elements need to be clear and correct.   

Narinder: I agree with Sarah - focus on the results achieved in your previous roles rather than just listing what you do in your day-to-day role.   

Paul Mowat: Good point - the CV's I have reviewed and there has been many... people list their job tasks and not what they have achieved....

CMI: Thanks guys. For students about to enter the job market are there any particular activities that would give them the edge over and above the academic studies?   

Paul Mowat: For me it has to be what they have been involved in outside of their studies. I have just taken 4 new Analysts into my team...  

Paul Mowat: Each of them stands out.. if I reflect back when I left University I feel I did not achieve as much as they have...

Paul Mowat: Work exp. is key even if its unpaid.. I think we have so many students in the UK who are not prepared for work...   

Sarah Milburn: totally agree Paul, we screen 1000's of graduate Cv's and it’s about what they have involved themselves in outside of their studies, this involvement and experience can indicate behavioural strengths that we would look to learn more about.

CMI: Following on from Kylie's question we have a question from Maggie.   

Maggie: Do you feel organisations do enough to manage the talent within their ranks? 

Narinder: I'll start this one off

Paul Mowat: I think some organisations are better than others...   

Narinder: Agree with Paul, some organisations are better than others and it also depends on the size of the organisation. As individuals we have to ensure that our talents are recognised and that is about going above and beyond in the role that you undertake and getting involved in cross-organisational projects. Your talent then does get spotted. Where organisations have established programmes that is great, but even then you need to demonstrate your passion and commitment.   

CMI: Sarah, how do you manage talent at Philips?   

Sarah Milburn: I’m really privileged to be in a position where Talent is on the agenda of our most senior management teams.   

Paul Mowat: Within Accenture we have various paths, e.g. fast track, ability to stop at certain levels to gain deep industry knowledge and skills as well as being recognised yearly through reviews which are assessed based on the size, complexity of your role, what you are doing outside of your role etc.

Sarah Milburn: We understand the need for a proactive approach to Talent management that is flexible enough to recognise individual contribution along with leadership and functional strengths.   

CMI: Narinder: what would you suggest that people who are a little reluctant to come forward to volunteer could do? Is it their responsibility or does some of it lie with their manager to recognise this talent and then nurture it?

Sarah Milburn: We foster the mentality that all those joining our organisation have talent and the behaviours that will add to our success

Narinder: You do need a manager that recognises talent and nurtures it, so a joint plan is really important. I have young members in my team and we sit down together and look at where they would like their career to go and also where their particular strengths lie   

Paul Mowat: I agree with both comments however people make a choice on whether their job is a career or simply a job.... 

Sarah Milburn: We spend significant time in recognising that not everyone is confortable putting themselves forward yet still have valuable contributions to be made, ensuring that there is an environment of trust and support often allows people to come forward

CMI: Thanks everyone. Let's move things on slightly now with a question from Pius. Any one want to get the ball rolling?

Pius Ughakpoteni: How can one benefit by way of mentoring from the experience of more senior members of CMI ?   

Paul Mowat: There are lots of benefits from being mentoring and its a 2 way process....   

Paul Mowat: For me its about learning best practices, gaining knowledge about how to operate at the next level, know and understand the pitfalls so you don't make the same mistake...   

Sarah Milburn: Mentoring is an invaluable way to unlock many opportunities, network, share knowledge and experience and we advocate it widely in our organisation.

Sarah Milburn: Often the political intelligence is passed through mentoring that is invaluable when building a career.

Paul Mowat: Not everyone can mentor and this needs to be recognised...

Paul Mowat: Good point Sarah - this has such a large impact on ones career...

CMI: Narinder, what are your thoughts on how Pius can receive advice from senior managers amongst CMI membership?

Narinder: Within the CMI membership we have over thousands of experienced managers and leaders. The best way to tap into that resource is through our on-line communities as the response can be instant, get involved at branch level where you have constant access to members from all types of sectors and job levels.

Sarah Milburn: One bit of advice that I also stick to is that you need to be connected and comfortable with a mentor to ensure you have an authentic relationship that is should be based on trust with both parties engaged in the relationship.

CMI: A question now from Richard.

Richard: What are your thoughts on personal branding and how can one go about improving their personal brand?

CMI: Can you just clarify what you mean by "personal brand". Thanks.

Richard: Sure, it's just like the brand for a company, but for you. So it's what people know about you, how they perceive you and so on.

Sarah Milburn: For me someone’s branding is based on three things their performance, the image they convey and the exposure that they have gained through their contribution.

Narinder: Richard - personal branding is an interesting question. Your behaviours and values are what everyone experiences when they interact with you. Your profile and reputation is something that then creates your brand, the more you interact wtih people from your own organisation or others and how you deliver on what you promise.

CMI: As we all know companies need to innovate to survive. So we have a question now which I guess Paul can kick off with.

Jackie: Do consultants innovate?

Paul Mowat: Interesting question... generally I think Consultants do not innovate becuase innovation is about creating something new...Consultants will make improvements to already established working practices/processes etc.

Paul Mowat: The industry as a whole is known not for innovating becuase to innovate takes time and investment..

Jackie: How important is innovation to your organisations?

Paul Mowat: Jackie innovation is right at the top... we need to innovate for our clients so they are world class and stay ahead of the competition whilst at the same time increase productivity, reduce costs and rework and improve quality.

Paul Mowat: The downside to innovation is that it might result in people losing their jobs becuase the function is no longer required, it’s been streamlined or even no longer exists.

CMI: We're coming to the end now so one last question to finish on.

The campaign we're running at the moment is all about CMI being your "Management Shadow" and giving managers the support they need to improve performance.

If you had a management shadow what would like them to do to boost your workplace performance?

Sarah Milburn: I’d love a management shadow that challenged me and sponsored me!

Richard: I'd like one that helped me achieve great things.

Paul Mowat: Interesting... for me it would have to be having the management shadow at my side providing support and advise as required.

Narinder: Agree with Paul - someone whispering advice on how to handle those difficult situations....   

Paul Mowat: Influencing and becoming that trusted advisor....   

Sarah Milburn: Being a friendly irritant!  

Paul Mowat: Being honest in feedback.

Narinder: Helping with those office politics!

CMI: It seems like these shadows could be busy people!

CMI: I think it's time to close now.

I'd just like to thanks Narinder, Paul and Sarah for their time and their input into this fantastic debate.

Paul Mowat: Goodbye all