How long should I spend in a role? It’s a question I get asked a lot but one that I rarely asked myself in my career spanning two decades.

For me, it’s always been about delivery and development – that moment in time where you realize you have delivered what you set out to achieve and need a new challenge to push yourself to grow further, never allowing yourself to go stale!

My career in numbers

I worked for 15 years at Diageo, two years at Carlsberg, three years at Sab-Miller and Ab-InBev and now almost two years at adidas. I’ve moved roles eight times, each time a promotion, yet only ever had two interviews, always growing into new roles within the organization.

You see, it’s organizations that create great culture, who really understand that their people are what makes them great. These are the organizations that retain great players.

Choose the club that puts your welfare first

Brian O’Driscoll, many would say the greatest center to have ever played rugby (not just because he wore adidas boots!), never left Leinster. He was offered higher salaries, cars, houses and even sunshine in France! But he never left. Why? I imagine it was because he realized that the culture and opportunities for development and growth at his club were world class. It’s very likely he extended his career by as much as three years due to how Leinster were prepared to put his welfare first.

two players seeking to take rugby from opposing player. my career
The Leinster and Ireland outside centre, Brian O’Driscoll stayed with his boyhood team because they were constantly setting higher goals, showing leadership in national and international leagues and always striving to be better ©David Rogers/Getty Images

Diageo was Leinster for me. It took 15 years to finally consider a role outside of the organization. Why? Well, ultimately, I wanted to prove to myself that I could be successful elsewhere, to forego the safety net, to really stretch myself not just from a career perspective but also culturally, experiencing new languages, people and environments. The opportunity to do this came out of the blue and I joined “probably” the best beer company in the world, moving myself and my family to Zurich.

Set your standards high

I still measure companies against the standards set by Diageo, always leading from the front in terms of staff wellbeing, paternity leave, maternity leave, flexible working, gender diversity, pay equality, sustainability and always championing authenticity. Living their values. Something consumers really expect from leading brands today.

My lasting memory of Diageo was the shock of getting a lower than expected rating, I had rocked it all year, overachieved on all KPIs, my manager sat me down to discuss authenticity, explaining that the company wants all ideas to be heard, that’s how we grow together. It was the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned, a company that said, above all else, what we expect from you is to be yourself, your true authentic self. It was a true gift.

team of rugby players walking on a pitch. my career
It’s not all plain sailing no matter how strong your club connection is. Sometimes a transfer is needed to push yourself out of your comfort zone and develop as a player. ©David Rogers/Getty Images

Go with growth and leadership

I want to work for companies that I respect and share common values with. I’m excited by leaders that value their people and inspire me to grow alongside peers with the same sense of ambition and desire to beat the competition.

It’s for these reasons I was quick to join adidas. It’s an exciting time to be within the sports industry as there is a real sense of urgency to grow, to be part of a performance culture and to be the best.

rugby fans waving team flags. my career
Your contributions and passion for improvement will find you fans. ©David Rogers/Getty Images

From invoice controlling at Diageo to transforming sports sponsorships at AB-InBev to now having the honor of managing the best marketing procurement team in the world right here at adidas, it’s been one a hell of a ride, working with and learning from some truly inspiring global leaders.

The exact time spent with these leaders doesn’t matter. It could be an intense season, when you’re fighting for promotion or avoiding relegation or a decade-long romance where you grow into the many challenges that come your way. What matters is you that you keep learning, contributing and growing to be the best performer you can be.

What are your thoughts? How do you recognize it’s time for a new challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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