Madeleine graduated in 2010 in Law (LLB). Here she talks to us about her role as Senior Learning & Development Manager with Clyde & Co LLP and how she got to this point in her career.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you finished university?

I always thought I would be a lawyer. I loved studying law but I realised during the course of my degree that being a lawyer was not something I actually wanted to do, for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest challenges was working out what I wanted to do. I did not expect to be in the job I am in at all; I didn't know that my field of work existed I had no idea what else was out there for me. I felt quite aimless and drifting. I found that by remaining open to new experiences and challenging myself to take on new types of work and learning, I was able to broaden my horizons and find a field that I love working in.

What did you do after finishing university?

I fell into Human Resources (HR). I took a job that built on administrative work I had been doing over the summers to earn extra money, and then found that the work was something I really enjoyed. From there, I specialised further and worked my way into Learning & Development (L&D). Now my career is all about making others feel more comfortable and competent in their careers.

What did you learn from your first graduate role? What did you like / dislike about it?

I have moved around in sector and job role. I began in 'generalist' HR, working in both the NHS and retail sector. While in the retail sector, I moved into the field of L&D. I found a real benefit in this transition; in my generalist role, I tried out a broad range of skills that would work for a career in HR. That was how I found out that I loved anything L&D-related and that I was good at it. It gave me a lot more confidence when I moved over into that field.

Are you doing the same role / in the same sector? If not, why did you change roles?

Following my time in the NHS and retail sectors, I moved into the legal sector where I have currently been working for about seven years. This is where I've seen my career progress because I've built my skill set; working my way up from a specialist role (which is fairly junior) up to a senior manager (one of the most senior roles in my team's structure) in the space of those seven years. This has given me a good range of experiences to draw on as I solve the issues I'm confronted with now, and has meant I've been able to find a match between stretching myself ambitiously, but also making sure I'm not pushing myself too far.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your first graduate job?

There were times as I worked in my generalist role that I really doubted whether I was capable of doing the work. I had always found that I could adapt easily to new situations while at university, but I struggled at times with the learning curve that was required of me at work. I really had to manage myself and realise that I did not have to be good at everything straight away; I needed to understand what I was good at, what I was bad at and use all of that as data to help me make the right choices and focus my development on the most fruitful areas.

If you could go back, would you do anything differently?

Relax. I spent a lot of time worrying that I needed to have everything worked out by the time graduation rolled around. My friends and I graduated in the aftermath of the global financial crisis; we definitely did not have it as bad as some of the previous classes will have, but we still felt the pinch. I do not know anyone now who is in a field or role they find unrewarding. If you relax, you can remain open to new experiences and pieces of learning, and that will help you fast track your development.

What are your plans for the future?

My current career goal is to be the head of a global learning and development function before I am 40, which I believe I am currently on track for. After that, I will reset and see where I want to put my focus.

What advice would you give to a current student who is not sure what to do after graduation?

Talk to everyone you can and be curious about what their roles actually mean. Explore what sits behind the 'front-facing' roles. I spent a lot of time at law firm networking events, and I never really realised that there were entire functions sitting behind the lawyers helping the firms run. If I had been more curious and proactive about asking those questions, I would have found a lot more out a lot sooner!

Sum up your career journey so far in three words.

Interesting, surprising, fulfilling.