This week, SLA Europe take over the Future Ready blog. SLAE has around 250 members in half a dozen different countries. We are a thriving network of information professionals: individuals and organisations within the UK and across Europe come together to benefit from each others’ knowledge and experience. All areas of the information profession are represented by our members - specialist librarians, researchers, knowledge managers, business insight consultants, information scientists, editors, content specialists, graduates and academics and we’ve got representation in many different divisions.
Geraldine Clement-Stoneham, Europe Chapter, Academic, Biomedical & Life Sciences, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Leadership & Management, and Taxonomy Divisions
Noone can really predict the future of our profession accurately, but we know too well that it is changing and changing fast. Good business planning in uncertain time involves the development of scenarios with associated plans of action, and an assessment of their likelihood. The assumption is that the best way to cope with uncertain outcomes is to have an array of possible responses available at all times, in the hope that one of them will provide a way to adapt to the new circumstances.
I believe that the same can be applied to career planning, and that the best way to prepare for the future is to seek new experiences in order to develop the ability to apply our core information management skills in different situations. When we apply for a job, we tend to do so because our skills match the job description. Once we are in the job, at the beginning the new environment brings enough learning opportunities, but over time this gets harder as one settles in daily routines.
I have discovered throughout my career that unexpected activities I volunteered for enabled me to develop skills and experience which put me in a better place when time came to move on to the next job. I am lucky because I am a naturally inquisitive person, so I tend to look for new adventures all the time, having even been described as a “compulsive volunteer”! Whilst some might readily argue that an unusual activity is “outside the scope of their role,” and turn it down, I tend to accept if I think I can contribute valuably, and also get something out of it which I would find enjoyable (such as acquiring new skills).
My willingness to invest my time and skills in projects outside of my comfort zone has not only given me the opportunity to work alongside great people who shared their expertise, but also enabled me to influence outcomes and demonstrate the value of my professional knowledge. When I didn’t get the opportunity to grow my skills in my work place, I volunteered in my local SLA chapter. There I have been fortunate to work alongside people willing to share their experience and trust me to take initiatives forward. Today I know that I often rely on knowledge and skills that I have developed working on projects not mentioned in my job description. Many have demonstrated that to be “future ready” one must be flexible, and I would encourage everyone to seize new opportunities and develop new responses to a world that is constantly changing.
Geraldine Clement-Stoneham is an Information and Knowledge Manager at the Medical Research Council UK, where is she is responsible for knowledge and information management policies and systems, including records management, as well as the day to day management of a team of six. Her previous experience includes working as a researcher in a investment bank and managing an information unit for a large international law firm, providing support to lawyers and business development teams. She obtained an MA in Musicology and English from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and an MA in Library and Information Management from University College London. She was the SLA Europe Chapter President in 2009 and currently serve as as the Membership Chair and an Alignment Ambassador. She is a member of the SLA Information Ethics Advisory Council.