Key Takeaways from the Career Development Institute Annual Conference

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December was quite an exciting month for me! I was invited to be one of the keynote presenters for the Career Development Institute 2019 conference that took place in Newcastle, England. My keynote was called “Spark Your Resilience: how to thrive, not just survive!” In it, I told my dad’s story of being a workaholic with much business success and resilience, but how unfortunately, his health took a serious beating from his work passion. I shared my Benatti Resiliency Model, named in my dad’s honor, and stories from clients of the impact of focusing on resilience. I learned an important keynote presentation lesson. When you are told you have 19 minutes to present, you only have 19 minutes to present! During minute 18, I was enthusiastically sharing my client Elliott’s amazing story on innovation and all of a sudden, before I made it to my last slide, the chairperson was thanking me. I was having so much fun, I truly lost track of time! I had such a great ending slide, but the AV person cut it out. Lesson learned…

I really enjoyed the session, “Whose future is it anyway?”, facilitated by Tristram Hooley, Professor of Career Education at the University of Derby. He talked about how many of us are concerned about the future of work. Automation may take away many jobs, the digital revolution will require us to develop endless new skills, and the gig economy will eliminate sick pay and pensions in favor of the joys of self-employment. This presentation left me thinking about what is inevitable and what is just possible. All of us need to focus on what kind of career we want in the future and how to stay proactive in achieving it, since change and uncertainty is the norm in every career.

I also had an opportunity to attend a workshop taught by Nicolette Wykeman and Ruth Winden, “How Career Development Professionals Can Support the Ageing Workforce”. A key point of this session was that in a few years, the over-fifty workforce will be the largest of the four or five generations in the working population. Yet despite the growing number of older workers and the talent they bring, there are gaps when it comes to their career prospects, job security, and continuous skill development. I have seen first-hand the incredible benefits to organizations that value individuals with depth of life and job experience, but while some organizations recognize the value of older workers, what about the rest? I left with lots of questions in my head but also the reminder that it is up to each of us to drive our careers, stay connected to present and past colleagues we trust, and invest in professional development at all stages of our careers.

This experience in England was a highlight for my career in 2019! Sometimes serendipity provides us with incredible opportunities, but I believe strongly the best investment we can make in our careers and lives is to take time to focus on our resilience.

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