Where to Start
Job-seekers today have a long list of criteria they would like their next jobs to meet. Having been placed in a business planning role, Stockmann wanted to return to being a CFO and she wanted to sit on a board again. She also wanted to work for a company with a strong ethical stance that was “doing good” in some way. That’s what she had liked about Novartis: “The work they’re doing to save, extend and improve lives appeals to me because it’s doing something valid that is helping others and is right for humanity.” Although being flexible about location — she and her partner wanted to stay abroad a few more years — meant that she spoke with potential employers in the US, Asia and Europe, it was the role itself, as well as a “lively” London location, that was the deciding factor.
While Van der Smissen wanted to stay in Belgium, he enjoyed the international aspect of his work with Unilever. “I liked working with people from different cultures, understanding why people do the things they do or why they don’t do the things I expect them to do. So I was looking for something that had an international dimension to it,” he says. He also wanted to work for a company that produces tangible products, rather than services, and is a recognised brand name in its market. And, crucially, he knew what he didn’t want: more than an hour’s commute at each end of the working day.
For Singh, apart from developing her knowledge about a wider range of products, she wants to continue working with “challenging people.” “You can’t work with people who don’t have anything to teach you,” says Singh, who had studied law before joining a graduate scheme at UK energy company Centrica, where she moved from junior accounting roles to internal audit and working in a strategic team. At BP, “I love working with traders even though they can be difficult because I like the challenge of negotiating with them. If you tell them one plus one is two, they want to know how you know that one is one — that’s what I mean by challenging people.” Other criteria? A global company with a competitive internal environment, a good reputation and a culture of “trust and openness.”
Laine-Toner has a list of “personal values” — including openness, honesty, integrity and respect — that he wants to see at any company where he works. But the two things that are most important to him are a commitment to career development and — like Stockmann — a belief in the company’s values. “The reason I have been with Sainsbury for so long is that I believe in what the company’s trying to do,” he says. “I believe in its sustainability agenda. We changed our bananas to 100% Fairtrade and that, for me, is inspired. I couldn’t work for a company that I didn’t believe was doing the right thing.”