Ask me anything: Five thought–provoking questions for your boss

By Rachel Lund

On the GSK Future Leaders Programme (FLP), we’re fortunate to work under the guidance of experienced managers who are always generous when it comes to sharing their knowledge. I recently got together with my manager – Justin Brown,  the Quality Director at one of our manufacturing sites – five things I wanted to know. I got some great insight which I’ve pulled together here, giving my own take as a graduate along the way.

1. If you could give one piece of advice to a graduate what would it be?

He said: Take on board feedback and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone.

I say: Feedback is the most valuable way to learn and develop whilst on your GSK journey. Feedback should be a GIFT (Generous, Incident based, focused on Facts and with Take-away actions) and should highlight what you are good at, but also what you need to develop.

2. What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

He said: Having the conviction to move between different functions to further my development.

I say: Moving between different functions is an amazing way to further your development. On the graduate programme, breadth rotations can be used to move between functions. Breadth rotations could include moving from Global Manufacturing and Supply to Commercial or from Operations to Quality, for example

3. If you could solve any one problem in the world, what would it be and why?

He said: A difficult one! I’d say access to clean water, to ensure everyone has access to a clean sustainable water supply.

I say: GSK has a global partnership with Save the Children, to help bring life-saving help to children in countries around the world. This includes supporting emergency response efforts to provide shelter, food, medical assistance and clean water to those affected by a crisis.

4. What do you think the most valuable leadership trait is and why?

He said: The ability to inspire others, whether dealing with current issues or focusing on future strategies.

I say: One of the six GSK Expectations (what the company expects from its employees and puts at the heart of its personal development plans) is ‘Set Direction & Inspire’, recognising the importance of being able to inspire colleagues and teams whilst working for GSK. On the graduate scheme, we work to demonstrate these behaviours on a daily basis, ensuring we’re developing these leadership behaviours from Day one.

5. When interviewing, aside from the technical knowledge, what do you look for in a candidate?

He said: Leadership traits such as integrity, humility and drive. Evidence of being able to work in a team and deal with varying priorities. They should be a good communicator with interests outside of work.

I say: The Future Leaders Programme is a leadership training programme, so we are encouraged to demonstrate leadership traits from the start of the programme. Interests outside of work can massively help develop these leadership traits. For example, try sports teams to develop teamwork skills, volunteering with a charity, or coaching a children’s sports team to build communication and leadership skills in a non-workplace environment.