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Is 20 Years Too Long?

Ernest Hunter Green speaks to Matt Bateman, a respected FD within the hospitality and leisure sector. Matt is embracing the prospect of securing a new role following an ever-evolving 20 years within the same Group. We often advocate that professionals should keep moving their careers along and the assumption is that should be to secure your next role at a new business. But, what if you could keep your development moving and your challenges fresh whilst being part of one business?

Matt shares his views:

Having recently been made redundant from a company that I worked at for the last 20 years, it has given me the chance to reflect if this length of service is considered too long to stay in one place or not.

In my opinion, there are three things that should be avoided in order to keep the longevity a positive experience for both the employer and the employee.

  • Don’t stay in the same role – Whilst being at the same company doesn’t make you stagnant, being in the same role does. It is important to move roles every few years to give yourself the opportunity of trying something new in order to learn and develop your skills further and to explore a different part of the business enabling you to bring a new perspective and to broaden your knowledge of the company as a whole. If you do find yourself staying in the same position for a long time, then you can still benefit from becoming a subject matter expert and taking on additional responsibilities to grow the role further. This will then strengthen your skill set and put you in a good position should you find you need to make an external move in the future
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up – If you have been at the same employer for many years then you will have built up a large amount of knowledge and experience of the company history. Someone might think that they have a great new idea but when it’s being discussed, you may be aware that this has been tried before and didn’t work. What is important though is the why it didn’t work, and this is where you can use this experience and knowledge to input towards an alternative solution. For example, are the same blockages still in place that stopped it working before, or has the company evolved enough that now it could work? This insight can be invaluable in helping the company with due diligence and planning before any investment is made
  • Don’t be scared of change – It is likely that the company will have had many changes in senior executives during your time there, changes of direction, strategy, acquisitions, disposals all come with new processes and procedures. This is something that you should embrace to stay relevant and not get left behind. Have an open mind, as the response of ‘well we have always done it like that’ never gets you much credit

During my time the company had many transformations. These changes can come with unexpected results. I have received two promotions at times of uncertainty and potential redundancy, showing that the need to step up and grab the opportunity can come at any time.

There are a lot of unknowns when working for a large global company and as we have seen with Covid-19, what is stable today is not necessarily going to be the case tomorrow, especially in the hospitality sector in which I worked. The ability to adapt and be flexible is key and there is no reason that longevity of service should be a barrier to this.