Hello readers, today’s piece is inspired by an interview with Jennifer Mbaluto, a partner at the reputable law firm, Clifford Chance, from the Smart Series podcast. She offers gems that I believe could benefit young international students/graduates seeking to pursue their career goals at large international corporations.

Jennifer moved to London to resume work at Clifford Chance after working for several years in Kenya. She says that moving to Clifford Chance showed her that possibilities were endless, especially in impacting a wider Africa.  Some key points I took away from the interview include the following:

Find your Purpose and Passion

“Your sweet spot in life, where you are most optimal, is where your passion and talent interlink.”

Jennifer says that her purpose and her passion for Africa is what makes her job meaningful to her. She sees a lot of opportunity to improve the continent, and so completing transactions involving Africa on a bigger impactful scale, makes all the work that she does worthwhile.

It is therefore important to find your passion and purpose when delving into your career. Look for things that excite you, because it allows your work and your life to flow together into a fruitful mix.

Additionally, from a student/graduate perspective, it makes the gruelling hours invested into applications for jobs that bit more bearable. 

Open Mindedness

Adopting an openness to understanding other cultures is very important, especially in such a period of huge globalisation. However, not only is it a necessity, but it opens up endless opportunities to truly engage with your dreams and aspirations, as we have seen in Jennifer’s case.

Jennifer gives an example of how being socially aware to other cultures makes a difference in the working environment. For example, coming from Kenya and finding out that at meetings in the UK, a little bit of small talk was required before handling business matters, was foreign to her. This was because, in Kenya, the lawyers show up, and get straight down to business. So, as she wouldn’t have classed herself as a “small talker”, she needed to adapt.  This required open mindedness.

Although this may seem minor, this small aspect may make a difference to how you are perceived by your colleagues and could ultimately determine your working relationship with them. You don’t want to be that person that’s difficult to work with because you are not willing to be socially open to other people’s way of doing things.

Additionally, you should widen your outlook, because if you want to work in a global corporation, most of your clients will be international.  They will require an understanding of their businesses which can often times be intertwined with their own culture.  If you cannot adapt, you will struggle.

Seek Feedback

You have to be proactive about seeking feedback.

“Ask and you shall receive” – if you do not ask for/encourage feedback, no one will give it to you. It is your responsibility to develop the skills that you require to achieve YOUR goals. Seeking feedback will develop you at a quicker pace than if you had not asked for feedback. You cannot develop what you do not know.  As a bonus, it leaves a good impression on your colleagues or supervisor.

So, as I reflect, these key tips all have elements of emotional intelligence, skills that are increasingly being sought out by employers. Elements of self-awareness and self-regulation are needed for self-improvement after seeking feedback. They are also needed when finding your purpose and passion. Social-awareness and empathy are needed to be open and understanding towards other people and their cultures. Finally, to keep moving forward, you need to be motivated to achieve your goals, if not, you could struggle a lot, as it could all seem “pointless”.

Ikenna Henry Onyebuchi

Ikenna Henry Onyebuchi

Hello there! I am Ikenna Henry Onyebuchi, a graduate from the University of Exeter with an LLB Law degree. I am currently on a Career Commitment Scholarship, studying at BPP University Law School, enrolled on the Legal Practice Course, with the combined master’s in law degree. I am also currently in search of a training contract to embark on my journey to becoming a solicitor in England, and I will be sharing my journey through BAME Nation!

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