Up-Skilling During Isolation is Hard, But The Rewards Are There

Redundancy, COVID, too much time on your hands? Some practical tips on making the most of your professional downtime.

The job market is a difficult place to navigate at the moment.

I’m in constant contact with leading professionals in the industry, until recently, these individuals were the most sought-after talent in the country.

Now many of these high performers are confronted with having an extra 50+ hours of spare time on their hands after being made redundant or not having contracts extended or even started.

I thought I’d profile a contact of mine who is in between roles and has decided this is the time to make the most of it and pivot. Andrew Dome an exec leader in Workplace and Collaboration, has been a long-standing client and now candidate of mine, having helped him build teams to expand the IT capabilities of his former teams. Andrew’s work speaks for itself, by managing business units that have transformed their collaborative workplace environments with the latest technology and applications, Andrew is renowned for his exceptional leadership and ensuring his team deliver high profile programs. His roles have been at Stockland, Origin Energy and Lloyd’s and like many, Andrew has experienced a recent non-start to a new role due to corona-related business contraction and downsizing, had timing been different, he would be on site now. So instead of chasing down the next position, he has decided to take a different approach and focus on himself.

Andrew took the time to chat with me about how he’s making the most of this time.  

How are you using this time to up-skill?

For a while now I’ve been thinking furthering executive study opportunities. Having this extra time on my hands has given me the opportunity to commit to a Disruptive Innovation course at Harvard Business School starting next week, and in a few weeks I’ll be starting an Executive Management course at MIT Business School.

What made you choose this area of study?

One of the more interesting and pertinent topics in technology is disruptive strategy. I’ve been interested in this area for a while now, and with the current climate I couldn’t think of anything more relevant to learn more about.

The executive management course combines topics surrounding productivity, time, and becoming a more effective leader. As an IT exec, these ideas are very relevant to my career path, and important for me to better understand in order for me to further my career.  

What stopped you from doing this earlier?

I think really what stopped me is time. Working in tech and managing large teams, I tend to find very little time for myself. Attending would have also involved travelling to the states, and now I’m able to attend both of these courses virtually, which is much more manageable.

Talk me through the challenges

Time management has been a real challenge, especially having a young family. I was working around the clock, doing course work at night and somehow finding time to look after my boys as well. Now I’m able to have more control over my schedule, do my course work during time that I’m most productive, and have even gotten back into running and yoga.

Do you think this would have been more beneficial if you could attend physically?

Using video conferencing, you definitely get the same value out of the content as you would physically being there. I don’t think the networking aspect is as good, obviously not going to lunches and dinners, but you can still make connections with other students and teachers.

Do you have any more plans for iso up skilling?

I’ll see how these courses go. I may continue on to some advanced certificates or look at other career development opportunities depending on where I land work wise. I feel you need to always to keep learning, especially in such a dynamic industry.

What have you learned about yourself during this time?

I value the people in my life a lot more. Not having interactions with people day-to-day has been a real struggle, and I’m keen to surround myself with the positive people in my life when I can.

I’ve got a lot more empathy for people who are isolated during normal times, and I’ve been getting involved with push-up challenges to raise awareness for mental health issues.

What tips would you offer others in the same situation?
  1. Use this as an opportunity to up skill, look at courses to improve your career path or change your career direction
  2. Stay positive and don't rush into opportunities that may not be suitable
  3. Align yourself to your network in your chosen field, and work with recruiters to help you understand the job market and land your next position more efficiently.

We are seeing some light at the end of this challenging time, more opportunities are opening up as restrictions are relaxed and we are becoming comfortable to remote working and on boarding. Extra study may not be for everyone in the same boat, however during this time if you are waiting on your next position, it’s a good time to reflect, take up something new that you’ve had in mind to do, or even simply taking stock of what matters most, looking after your mental health and wellbeing, this too will get you through.

For more ideas, support or career pivoting direction please message me for help or connect with Andrew he is a great leader & ready to go for his next position too.

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