Things have changed in the job market over the years. Students no longer walk out of university into a job for life and climb the corporate ladder internally for 40 years. Picking up new skills, knowledge and working relationships in a specialised area requires exploration. Finding prospects that meet your desires is achieved across multiple organisations and with support from leaders in the field.
Trade associations and interest groups are excellent places to build your career outside of your place of employment. Good relationships with company colleagues are essential for achieving industry goals, corporate ambitions, and finding a sense of community among people working towards the same specific aims. But your long-term professional growth and opportunities to learn and earn are widened through external networking.
That’s why I joined techUK.
Outside of your day job
I took up a Board position at techUK in mid-2022 alongside my full-time role as Head of Information Security at ElectraLink. I have worked in technology roles since the early days of my career, with plenty of instances where I had close working relationships with techUK’s Board members.
Through this experience, I have built up a wide network of colleagues and experts whose insight and advice has been incredibly inspiring and useful to achieve my long-term career goals.
For those who are unfamiliar, techUK is a trade association for technology professionals in the UK with primary aims to:
- Ensure the UK is the best place for technology companies to locate and do business,
- Build a network for innovation and collaboration across business, government and stakeholders,
- Support net zero,
- Work with the Government to champion the possibilities of AI and data analytics,
- Work across all sectors to improve services through technology,
- Support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), like ElectraLink,
- And develop innovation and skills.
I decided to join the techUK Board for several reasons, among them to represent SMEs to ensure they understand the benefits and support available, to support ElectraLink as an SME, and to work with SMEs to learn and develop new approaches. I also joined to expand my professional network and learn more from the brightest minds across the country about where the UK’s tech industry is heading.
Expanding your network can expand your knowledge
Particularly within the information and cyber security space, well-supported and process-driven start-ups and SMEs ensure systems are safe, stable and incorporate the fundamental and latest approaches to data use, protection and management. To achieve this, wide networks of specialists who can lend expertise will contribute deep experience, knowledge, and most importantly, ideas.
By involving yourself as a thought leader willing to volunteer time and energy towards curious, driven people with fresh ideas, you will also benefit from the connections they provide and learn from them.
To thrive in these environments, find your niche area, not necessarily related to your current occupational role but in an area you have an interest and expertise in, and consider how you can join a professional association to support your long-term career goals.
My advice for aspiring thought leaders in tech and energy is to put yourself forward for as many opportunities as you can manage. Speaking at events, providing training to others through virtual seminars and other offers support. You will soon grow your reputation through your contributions to others and links to reputable industry colleagues.
Chase these types of opportunities throughout your career, from year one to year 40, and you will never stop loving what you do with people who share the same vision. Feel free to message me on LinkedIn if you have any questions or ideas you’d like to share with me – I would be delighted to hear from you.
Words by Kulwinder Johal, Head of Information Security, ElectraLink