Given our focus on professionals and their career goals, Protagion’s members tend to share a common experience during their lives: the challenge of studying and working simultaneously. Many professionals attest to the personal effort, dedication and diligence required in tackling their professional exams, particularly at board or fellowship level. While this pressure often arises during the earlier years of their careers, it can arise later too, if for example, they study further or write additional exams to change specialism or profession. And, once complete, the sense of accomplishment (and relief) is well-earned – every qualification is a substantial achievement to be celebrated! I know of an actuary who vowed to celebrate every week for a full year once she was done...
Two specific difficult areas which professionals reference are:
The global contagion and national lockdown responses this year are adding significantly to the stress involved in writing professional exams, including:
Even under normal circumstances the nature of your role affects your possible study schedule. For example:
Vacancies or unplanned absence of your teammates can also contribute to additional work pressures. And, especially now given the possibilities of people falling ill, study leave may be cancelled at short notice in order to deliver on corporate priorities. Some roles will also be facing additional work at present, like those in risk management or business continuity areas.
All of this work pressure is compounded with the team working from different home locations, possibly with less reliable access to the software and systems needed to operate optimally. Communication within the team and with seniors can also be more challenging.
Some suggestions for how to manage work and studying while working from home:
Do you agree? Any other suggestions to achieve both passes and promotions? Which techniques have helped you study for professional qualifications while simultaneously delivering above expectations at work? Please also share further ideas to manage the particular challenges of doing this while working from home.
A final thought: given the significant personal and professional stresses we’re all facing at the moment, one of Protagion’s coaches in South Africa has very kindly offered to support our professionals with their current worries by offering a free confidential coaching session per person. Her intention is to be of service and support others through this difficult time, including sharing what she personally practises to remain calm in stressful situations. Please contact us if you’d like to take up Gretha’s offer of a space for those in need to unpack, offload and lessen some of the emotional stress.
Some of the career goals Protagion supports our professional members with are related to transitions, including changing specialism or discipline within their profession, or even changing profession entirely. For example, we’ve shared stories before of a lawyer changing across to banking as well as a lawyer becoming a (famous) author… In this post, we share the experiences of Adam Kay, previously a doctor with the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, before he shifted to become a comedian and writer for TV and film.
In 2010, after six years of training and another six on the wards, Adam hung up his white coat and resigned from his job as a junior doctor. He set out his experiences in medicine in his often-hilarious book “This is Going to Hurt”*, described as a “no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line”.
97-hour weeks. Life and death decisions. A constant tsunami of bodily fluids. And the hospital parking meter earns more than you.
I read the book myself over the Christmas break, and found its style reminiscent (to me at least) of another series of books I really enjoyed, which were set in a fictitious school much like the boarding school I attended in my teens: the “Spud” series*. While that series is primarily a nostalgic and amusing coming-of-age story, the underlying message in “This is Going to Hurt” runs far deeper...
The book is structured into chapters which follow Adam’s journey from starting work as a House Officer to becoming a Senior Registrar over a number of years, and shares anecdotes in the form of diary entries over his time at different hospitals. Read on to follow his career journey in medicine, including his reasoning for his choice of career and then of specialism, as well as the highs and lows he documented, including his burnout and decision to step away. In his introduction, Adam sets up the book with: “So here they are: the diaries I kept during my time in the NHS, verrucas and all. What it’s like working on the front line, the repercussions in my personal life, and how, one terrible day, it all became too much for me.”
At Protagion, we recognise the incredible power of analytics and automation, while at the same time believing wholeheartedly in our uniquely human abilities. As we’ve argued before, it is the blend of these powers (man and machine) that creates immense value. In this article we discuss and share a TED talk by an executive from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on “human plus AI” approaches.
Some of our previous articles which touch on similar themes are:
In fact, Protagion’s business and approach to managing our careers actively is built around the concept of combining human experience, expertise and judgement (from our mentors and coaches) with the benefits offered by technology, algorithms and analytics to offer personalised career suggestions that evolve as professionals grow.
Read more to uncover the ideas of Sylvain Duranton, a business technologist and leader of BCG Gamma, which has deployed over 100 customised AI and analytics solutions for large companies around the world. His team conceptualises, builds, and deploys data science and advanced analytic solutions. Sylvain joined BCG in 1993, and as you will discover, he is a fan of “human plus AI” approaches. He says artificial intelligence is impacting a variety of fields, including businesses’ relationships with their customers, their industrial operations, risk assessment and management (in areas such as healthcare, finance and insurance), and improving the supply chain. However, he warns against “algocracy” (rules-based decisions without human oversight). We conclude the article with a video of his roughly 14-minute talk, given in Mumbai.