Rachel Kolebuk, head of business planning and product management, began her career at The Nottingham in 2005. She has enjoyed roles in product marketing, interim head of department, project management, business planning and finance and is very much of the opinion that you get out what you put in!
I began life at The Nottingham as a product manager in 2005. After three years, I progressed to senior product manager – a broader role which covered mortgages, savings and third party suppliers. This whetted my appetite for more responsibility and I was delighted to be invited to take on the interim role of head of marketing for a year.
I thoroughly enjoyed the role and it definitely opened up new horizons for me. I was then approached about taking on a project management role to launch Nottingham Mortgage Services. This was absolutely a stretch role and involved me working closely and managing the expectations of multiple stakeholders across the society.
The skills I gained in these four years were invaluable and set me up for my next opportunity. A new function of business planning was created at this point and I joined the team to take this forward. This was a clear step up and a chance for me to use the project and stakeholder management skills I had gained in earlier roles. I was definitely outside of my comfort zone at this point but it was a good risk to take. An old boss of mine always used to say ‘I want team members who are willing to put their hands up!’ and that has really stayed with me.
I then moved into finance – a completely different discipline considering my background and expertise is in the world of marketing! At this point, I began an MBA in business management, which was sponsored by The Nottingham. It was a big commitment over four years but so valuable. You gain so many skills that you can practically apply in your role - personal, organisation and technical skills and I still use many of the skills in my role today. Most recently, given my previous experience, I was delighted to have an opportunity to look after the product team once again. I’m really enjoying working with the team.
I’d also recommend seeking out other areas of development to broaden your experience. I took the opportunity to be a business mentor for Young Enterprise which is a really good testing ground for leadership. You’re applying skills but in a different way to relate to a completely different audience.
I am currently a director of the charity Nottinghamshire Deaf Society and previously spent three years as a trustee for the Stonebridge City Farm charity. The roles have been both fulfilling and challenging.
Developing your career prospects does not necessarily have to mean moving up the ladder. Career development is about owning and growing your potential, playing to your strengths, getting exposure to new skills and trying out new things.
I have had some fantastic support in my time at The Nottingham but I believe that success is also about taking control and driving your own success. It can feel a bit scary but the more you step outside your comfort zone and expose yourself to development opportunities the easier it gets. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be persistent and find opportunities to expand your experience and build your skills.
If you are thinking that you would like to develop your career further, think about how you can expand your horizons outside of your normal role. Take the initiative and seek out opportunities to learn new skills or spend time in other areas of the organisation that interest you.
There is lots of support out there for you but you need to put your hand up!
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