Need new talent? Look within the business

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Q&A session with Grace Rothery, Head of UK Retail at Gazprom Energy

What are the benefits of appointing an existing employee into a role as opposed to looking externally?

It’s a win-win situation! Both the employee and the employer benefit from recruiting internally. From the employee’s perspective, they can carry over their knowledge of the company and achieve career progression in an environment they are already comfortable in.

The employer also stands to gain. Research shows that when people believe an internal promotion could be on the cards, they’re twice as likely to put in extra effort at work to help boost their personal profile. The employer also benefits from a team member that already understands the organisation and its processes, so there’s less of a need for training, and the employee can become an immediate asset to the business.

Speaking personally, I had been Head of Legal & Regulation for four years and was looking for career progression, but I wanted to stay with Gazprom Energy. I was fortunate that the business wanted to offer a new role leading the UK business internally, and that my skill set was considered transferrable.

2.     How did you find the progression from Head of Legal at Gazprom Energy, to Head of UK Retail?

It has been quite a shift to go from an advisory role, to a position where I’m required to make decisions on a pretty much constant basis. However thanks to my experience within the company I’d already developed a good understanding of the business, and I’m surrounded by knowledgeable people which means asking the stupid question isn’t as daunting as it could otherwise be.

3.     What skills could you transfer from your previous role to your current one?

I was really lucky in my previous role. I led a legal team that was fully integrated into, and valued, by the business so I had a great overview and understanding of all areas of Gazprom Energy. Thanks to that, I picked up some great insight into what works for the business, and how we can step things up a notch to boost success.

4.     How can employers upskill senior employees and prepare them to be future leaders?

Get them involved in more than just their day-to-day role, and give aspiring employees a regular update on what’s happening in their department and the wider business. When I was Head of Legal, I had multiple opportunities to contribute to projects and initiatives that were outside my strict remit. They helped me broaden my skills and learn about business strategy.

When Gazprom Energy implemented a new customer management platform, we didn’t only use external suppliers to develop it. Employees from across the business, from finance to the customer service, worked alongside the suppliers. This gave our employees the opportunity to develop their skills and broaden their career horizons.

5.     What are the challenges of training up employees into more senior roles?

The more senior you become, the more business acumen you need. That’s often the struggle with training people up. They normally have a great insight into the department they work in, but don’t have a broad enough perspective of the business. It should be the focus to train rising stars on commercial and broader business skills, no matter what their position is.

6.     When is it best to look externally when hiring for a role?

When you need a fresh pair of eyes and proven expertise, e.g. to carry out a project or drive transformation, often hiring somebody external can be the best option. When you’ve worked in the same organisation for a while, it’s easy to become blinkered in your own and the business’ view of how to do things. Sometimes you need to seek out somebody with proven experience in a specific field to deliver at the high standard you need.

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