Character Traits for Work That Make a Real Difference

As an RMIT mentor and alumni I was recently invited to attend the Business Students Association Women in Business breakfast event featuring a guest panel with Sally Freeman KPMG, Dionne Higgins RMIT University, Elizabeth Proust AO Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Debra Abbott Victoria Police and Justin Smith, 3AW.

The average age of the students in the room was 19 and the focus of the panel and breakfast were the characteristics required to navigate your business career, a topic close to my heart. I graduated from my Bachelor of Business – Marketing in 1997 and, while it feels like yesterday, some time has passed since then and the business landscape these students are entering will require so much more from their ‘whole’ selves than it did of my cohort.

As we listened to the panel we sat at the table with 3rd year business students, who varied in age from 20-30 years old, and are specialising in Marketing and International Business. We enjoyed a discussion about gender and diversity, with the suggestion that organisations need to think deeply and plan purposely for inherent disadvantages. The opportunity is to amplify the gaps and understand why, at certain points of age and career women, step out – and adjust for that. Part of the solution is providing mentoring programs and tailoring options that suit the culture and architecture of the organisation.

Organisations need to think deeply and plan purposely for inherent disadvantages. Click To Tweet

Important Character Traits

It was the discussion around the character traits these employers look for in potential employees that I believe professionals of all ages can benefit from reviewing.  Suggestions were made from each of the panel members during the discussion and I have listed below the main ones, including:

  • The art of listening
  • Enquiring mind
  • Leadership qualities and leadership abilities (demonstrated through participation in sport and your community)
  • A commitment to life long learning
  • The skills and experience for today
  • The mindset to adapt over a long career that may be with many employers
  • Curiosity
  • Problem solving
  • Independent thinking
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Think outside the box
  • Bring yourself to work and be a real authentic person to be part of the team
  • Networking
  • Say yes to opportunities
  • Believe in yourself

The Importance of Values

Debra Abbott, Victoria Police, believes that moral courage is the over-riding characteristic (and value) that the Victoria Police recruitment is built around. It is being able to do the right thing that matters most. Victoria Police wear this on their sleeve and it is their over-riding mission.

It is being able to do the right thing that matters most. Click To Tweet

As I listened to the panel’s insights, it struck me that there is high value placed on the contribution that fresh and young minds can add to the organisation’s culture in an increasingly complex and competitive business environment. It was also refreshing to hear from the panel that candidates are interviewing the organisation for values alignment and cultural fit, with the acknowledgement that the younger generation are challenging the employer in the interview and evaluating the company’s social license to operate in the market.

Passion is essential to making your way, charting and navigating through. If you have the moral courage and desire there is a way. With organisations increasingly relying on their new employees to challenge the status quo, how can you make a real difference in your current and future roles?

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