An intentional approach to career strategy

In a fast-changing world where higher levels of engagement and productivity are much sought after, but frequently elusive, we know that a compelling career proposition is a vital missing link. We advocate going beyond the data-driven approach of Talent Management and adopting a strategy that while technology-enabled, is essentially people-centred. The message to current and prospective employees is – join us and we’ll help you to grow, thrive and do your best work.

In this roundtable discussion our ‘provocateur’ Sarah Burns, VP Global L&D at Coty, argued that individual actions are insufficient to deliver this new career deal. Rather, a strategic response is required so that organisations, teams and individuals develop the right mind sets and behaviours to be prepared for the future world of work, skills and careers. Participants discussed the reasons why developing a career strategy is relevant to their business priorities.

Participating organisations:
Activision, Asahi Breweries Europe, Bakkavor, Bentley Motors, Direct Line, GSK, Hymans Robertson, IHG, ITE Group, Marriott International, Southeastern, Thomson Reuters, UBS.

If you’d like to be considered for an invitation to a future Virtual Roundtable please contact us.

Read the summary of the discussion below or download it.

Roundtable summary

A diverse group came together to discuss how an intentional, and future-oriented Career Strategy offers a different, complementary and more human perspective on managing and developing talent in organisations.


Organisations shared the career-focused challenges and questions they are wrestling with:

  • Balancing the organisation’s needs and priorities with individuals when organisational structures are changing
  • Helping people to navigate their own careers to make sense of the opportunities available
  • Avoiding the loss of critical talent during major change
  • Re-skilling key staff more frequently
  • Re-defining what career means in the context of flatter, more agile organisations, and influencing employee mind sets accordingly
  • Equipping managers and mentors to encourage their people to focus on career experiences, and not just promotions
  • Freeing up internal talent mobility.


Sarah Burns (Global VP, Learning & Development at Coty) described their systemic approach to introducing a new career strategy, based on the concept of fostering employee growth via experiences as the new paradigm for careers.

Harnessing the Coty challenger spirit, and focussing on experiential learning, the ‘Signature Experiences’ strategy is helping shape the new Coty business, supporting employees to craft careers in a fast-changing environment, whilst building out the tools that enable growth focused conversations. Sarah advocated for a strategic approach that adapts to the readiness of the business for change. Building out a compelling career proposition based on shared beliefs has been where the real work took place. The use of story telling ‘Coty Voices’ has also been particularly effective.

Other examples of good practice included:

  • Facilitating mobility by using AI/technology platforms which match individual skill sets with open opportunities
  • Ensuring experience maps are forward and not backward looking
  • Being explicit that the new career deal is essentially about experience building
  • Providing training and on-line resources for managers and team members to foster stretching growth conversations.


David North highighted how the Careers of Tomorrow research has informed a Career Strategy and Support model that provides a simple, but powerful framework for adopting an intentional approach, with the employee’s career experience at its’ centre.

Discussion of the model highlighted these priorities:

  • Move from tactical to strategic conversations with senior leaders
  • Establish a set of organisational beliefs which guide career development and align with business strategy and people processes
  • Offer an attractive career deal to all employees- not a one size fits all
  • It’s not enough to tell people to manage their careers; we need to enable them to do this. Career-building experiences need to be transparent and accessible for the new career deal to be credible.

If you’d like to be considered for an invitation to a future Virtual Roundtable please contact us.