Claire joined AlphaSights in August 2013 and now manages AlphaSights' European Talent Attraction strategy.
Doing what everyone else is doing makes me uncomfortable. When I was 7, I wanted to play the cello simply because no one else played it. Of course, I kicked myself once I realised this thing had to be carried around – especially when it was bigger than me (no seriously, I could actually fit inside the case and I haven’t grown that much since).
During my final year at university I couldn’t think of anything worse than the grad schemes everyone seemed to be applying for. I half-heartedly applied for some things, but couldn't bring myself to throw everything at it. I wasn’t entirely convinced about any of them and couldn’t shake this aversion to being one of hundreds. I ended up waiting until I had finished my exams to think seriously about grad jobs. I took that risk and woke up the morning after my final exam thinking, “well, this is the first day of the rest of my life…”.
I was academic, passionate about my subject, and considered taking my studies further. However, much like my passion for music, my passion for academia was not enough to make a career. I wanted to roll up my sleeves and make things happen. I clearly had an operational skill set; thinking about my previous work experiences, I realised I was impatient, action-orientated and found process for the sake of process frustrating. I also realised that your studies don’t have to be vocational and you don’t have to be something everyone understands – an artist, a teacher, a doctor, or a lawyer.
I figured that if I didn’t have a job title in mind, at least I knew what I was good at, what was important to me, and what skills I wanted to develop. I came across AlphaSights while looking at exciting and high-growth firms in London. I wasn’t really attracted by the start-up scene (I don’t love chaos and uncertainty that much) but AlphaSights seemed like a perfect compromise. I would be joining a young team – both in terms of development and the average age of my soon-to-be-colleagues. Most importantly, they desperately needed someone who would get stuck in and get things done. It was a far cry from the large companies I had experienced in the past and I wasn’t entirely sure where it would take me, but it was exciting.
Clearly there are pros and cons to both. There’s a lot to be said for choosing a grad job where you have it all mapped out. You will often gain professional qualifications and you always know what’s expected of you. In a high-growth environment, you have to learn to expect the unexpected and you have to be prepared to drive your own development.
In February, it will be 3.5 years since I joined AlphaSights. The company has given me the freedom to try new things whilst providing me with the support and structure I needed to develop. Choosing a “non-typical” career path can be daunting. However uncertainty, while not always easy, is somewhat liberating – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Updated on 16 January 2017. To learn more about opportunities to join the AlphaSights recruiting team, visit our open positions page.