Hi everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic morning, afternoon, or evening from wherever you are reading this blog! My name is Rizwan Tahmeed, a Grade 12 student at Woburn Collegiate Institute. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate Leadership Academy Lecturer Jessica McNaughton’s presentation on her journey, what she learned about business and herself, and a case study.
Before getting into the highlights, it was an honor to attend Jessica’s lecture. The session was more of an informational and relatable presentation compared to the past speakers. This lecture focused on her journey and what she learned from starting her first job as a waitress to leading the human resources department to closing mergers and acquisitions deals. Each job taught her three fundamental lessons about herself, her personality, and the world of business.
The first key takeaway from her lecture was the lessons that she learned throughout her career. Jessica started working as a waitress, working her way up to leading the human resources department and eventually the mergers and acquisitions division. Each job taught her something unique and lessons that would come back to be useful later in her career when she took on more corporate roles and positions. I believe that each job and position is always considered a stepping stone towards achieving your dream job. Although there were so many lessons she told us that she gained, the ones below highlight the ones that were impactful to me:
1. Knowledge is king: Knowledge is integral to success and life. What would we do without knowledge? Every day and in the future, we always refer to our knowledge and what we learned. When facing difficult situations, referring to your knowledge and what you learned from your past experiences is crucial to making that uncomfortable situation comfortable.
2. Structure and process make a difference: Structure and process are essentially how something should be done. It is the difference between a team where everyone knows what to do, how to do it, and what process to use to make the process for the customer easier versus a team that is completely lost. Teams with access to a good process and structure produce high-quality results.
3. Treat each job as if you own the business/company: As mentioned before, each job is a stepping stone and will only equip you with the lessons you might even refer to when working in your dream job. Treating the job as you own it and thinking of it as a position that is vital to the company’s success will allow you to produce results, perform exceptionally well, and unlock doors to opportunities.
3. People are always watching you: This lesson ties into the previous lesson. Treating each job as you own it and producing notable results as a result of that mindset attracts people who may work in a higher position towards you. As Jessica mentioned, she produced high-quality results as a waitress that a customer who worked at a corporation noticed, and as a result, she was hired into a position because of that mindset.
4. Fry your onions: This is a bit of a weird one that surprised me and I am sure surprised you too. Essentially, this saying means that if you are in a situation where you have to do something to achieve something by a certain deadline and you have no idea, just do something so everyone thinks that you are coming up with an idea. As a result, you will be able to have some peace and time to think of how you want to achieve whatever goal you want to achieve.
5. Pay attention to the nay-sayers: Although we often decide to ignore the nay-sayers, it is still important to listen and pay some attention to them. There might be a reason as to why they don’t like your product and service and even potentially offer a perspective or ideas of how to improve your product which you have never thought of before.
The second key highlight was solving a case study about a problem that a company is currently facing. As the individuals who were solving the problem, we had to provide suggestions regarding how the company can move forward to increase its customer base. As the consultant in this role, I had to suggest solutions, how the company in the case study can implement it, and how it benefits the company. This case study was different from the other ones since I was solving a problem that a company is currently facing instead of being placed in a hypothetical or fictional solving a fictional issue. Due to this, I was able to be a consultant in practice and understand what a consultant does in their everyday work. In other words, I was able to gain a sneak peek into the life of a consultant.
The third key highlight was how I can learn more about myself. Jessica shared a few aspects to look for when discovering yourself. Knowing who you are as a person and everything about yourself is crucial to your success in the future. Learning about what lights your brain on fire and what disengages you can help you prevent situations or paths where you won’t be happy. Discovering your gifts and passion can help you know more about what you are strong at and what area you need to work on. At the end of the day, it is always important to run experiments and put yourself in uncomfortable situations to develop yourself professionally and personally.
In closing, I can most definitely conclude that Jessica’s presentation helped me learn some lessons about the business world and instigated me to think about how a company can solve a potential problem that they could be facing. Jessica's lecture was informative, unique, and one that helped me discover more about being a consultant. If you wish to take one thing away from this blog post, remember that to achieve your macro you must think and know the micro. In other words, know the small stuff and minor details to achieve what you want to be in the future or accomplish in the present.