Finding the right way of learning for different career phases helped me grow
I started out with Reebok back in 1998. If you’d have asked me back then what I’d be doing in 17 years’ time, I never would have believed you. I’ve learnt quite a bit during my time with the company, whether it’s been from courses and books to just plain old real life experience and I’d like to share some of the bits that have really stuck with me. I first joined as a Retail Store Manager – possibly one of the most underrated positions in terms of career growth and progression and you really have to be open to learning: You need to become the lead for finance, marketing, supply chain, security, facilities, IT, HR…it’s such a cross-functional role. The really good thing about it is that it develops your overall understanding of the business as a whole, which actually gives you a good basis from which to develop yourself. Career development isn’t just something for the classroom “Life can only be lived forwards, but it only makes sense backwards” is a mantra that seems to describe best my main approach! There are times when I take full charge of my development – I book courses, buy books, get coaches and mentors and work consciously on building key skills. There are other times when I am so “in the flow” that development seems to take a back seat to actually doing.
“It’s only when I look back that I see how much I was actually developing even when I didn’t even realise it.”Matthew Stone, Director Learning
I truly believe that when it comes to personal and career development it’s important to make sure that you find ways of learning that work for you. Learning and development comes in many, many forms. Do I stay or do I go? I would say I’m very much a “take life as it comes” kind of guy, rather than the “grab life by the… you know what!” type. There are times when you feel that development might be stunted if you don’t actively do something but, depending on the situation, doing nothing might offer you greater opportunities in the longer term.
“I think some of the boldest choices I have made involve NOT doing things, rather than the things I have done.”
When my career was looking quite uncertain during the Reebok/adidas merger, I received a great offer to return to the UK for a good role in a strong company that I respected and admired. What stopped me? I had the feeling that my journey with the adidas Group wasn’t yet over. I elected to embrace uncertainty rather than take the known road. Six years later, I am happier than ever in a role that I love, in a place I love, with a company that never ceases to amaze, delight and engage me.