Growth Amidst the Pandemic: Business Leaders’ Advice to Graduates.

Simon advises that when applying for jobs, it is better to go deep, rather than broad.

As a lot of folk wisdom suggests, resilience during adversity and a willingness to change and adapt are key components in the success of any individual or organization. At the start of the pandemic and during its progression, we have not been entirely short of challenges. Not to say, the setup of our Dubai office in 2020 also involved a lot of learning on our part. We have had to maximize our efforts in putting our people first; their safety and engagement and offering the best support to enable our entire team to continue thriving amidst the uncertainty.  

Fortunately, we have been able to diligently continue our trading activities. The global electricity markets operate 24-7 and we as Cobblestone Energy, one of the largest participants in the UK’s Intraday electricity markets means continuity is valuable to the balancing of power and its delivery to users across the continent. We have also successfully expanded our team, adding 11 new members. Our growth is still ongoing, as we continue to hire remarkable individuals from across the globe and spread our operations.  

Our team has shown an intense ability to adapt during the period. Innovation and agility have been the essence of our teamwork. We have seen the greatest developments in systems and efficiency over the last few months indicating an ardent desire for sustainable growth on everyone’s part. We have also expanded on existing and modern technologies that have changed how we work for the better. The team is the firm and continues to be the greatest reason for its success.  

We also have highly effective leadership that has empowered us to transform great ideas into reality and manage agile processes with the right information and guidance. Our leaders have also worked tirelessly to ensure the team has all the necessary tools and is highly motivated and aware of the vision and our purpose. The combination of our remarkable team, leadership, expertise in the field, and an extraordinarily rich and exciting industry in which we operate has set us up for a truly enriching career. That and more is the reason we are the best at what we do and are key players in the electricity markets.  

As part of our strong focus on individual development, our leaders, learning from their experience extend insightful advice to graduates on starting a career in the post pandemic era. Our team has vast experience in interviewing thousands of candidates and developing talent across different departments with rich expertise in commodity markets and technology. The gems in this knowledge apply across different fields and are relevant to anyone in any position or stage in their career.  

Nizar Ajeeb 

CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, COBBLESTONE ENERGY 

The pandemic has substantially impacted our working environment, business activities & consequently the job market. Only those who are very well prepared and flexible enough to adapt to the post-covid era will be able to secure jobs & thrive in their careers. 

Graduates need to build transversal soft skills that are transferrable across multiple sectors & domains. This applies to Communication skills, Leadership skills, Analytical skills, Problem solving skills, …etc. These will continue to be key skills required by hiring managers especially in a remote work environment. Thus, graduates should develop & strengthen these skills through relevant short-term programs, online trainings, books …etc. 

In addition, graduates should adapt well to work remotely while being super productive & efficient, as hybrid and remote work environments will be increasingly the norm. 

DEEPTI AHLUWALIA 

HEAD OF HUMAN RESOURCES 

Graduates will enter a very different world due to the pandemic and need to be prepared for it. They will be faced with a corporate environment where the jobs will be limited as companies will be very cautious of hiring. 

In such a scenario they will need to display grit, resilience, and perseverance. One of the things they can do is to understand the roles and see if they can equip themselves with the qualifications required for those. 

We are already seeing an increase in gig workers, part-time employees and remote employees which helps people take up multiple roles and develop their experience. This is something they should be ready to embrace and prove themselves to be good at. 

Once in a role, they should expect to learn their role on their own with at times, limited personal interaction from colleagues, not an easy thing to do when you are used to studying in college with other students and requires focus and discipline. 

In such an atmosphere what can help them is to have a clear understanding of what is expected from them from Day 1 (clear goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), schedule regular catch-up time with their manager to see how they are doing and have regular performance check-ins to course-correct if required. 

SIMON HOLLERAN 

HEAD OF GB INTRADAY TRADING 

Given the current environment, one should expect that the “business as usual” approach to hiring and recruitment is not going to hold anymore. The first thing to do here would be to temper your expectations, understandably for most businesses the recruitment and onboarding process is going to be much slower and may be fully virtual.  

As it is often said, it is during crisis that one can also encounter opportunity. Make sure that you are always seeking to improve continuously, this can be through developing a skill, or taking a deep-dive into your domain of interest. Such things can lead to outsized compounded marginal gains (remember that (1.001)365 = 1.44, meaning such small improvements daily can lead to a 44% increase over the year. Of course, it is not entirely possible to quantify your growth and development, the idea here being that people recognize the importance of constant growth and development.  

When applying for jobs, I always feel that it is better to go deep, rather than broad. What I mean by this is that rather than applying for many jobs in different domains, find a particular domain (or required skillset) that particularly interests you, and then fine tune your application to the specific role. Some of the most enjoyable (and exciting) candidates that I have interviewed for the trading team have been the ones that show a deep interest in the domain and will go above and beyond to develop their understanding.  

Finally, when joining a company, make sure that you understand what is expected of you, seek regular feedback and at the same time constantly introspect and think about where you are, where you are going (where you want to be?) and how you are going to get there. 

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