Smart Pension's head of proposition development won the Rising Star of Pensions award. He tells Kim Kaveh about the lessons he has learned along the way.
What does winning the Rising Star of Pensions award mean to you?
It means everything. It is a culmination of years of hard work, a lot of hard work. And the awards are a great acknowledgement for what young people are doing in the industry.
What has been your biggest achievement in your career so far?
My biggest achievement to date has been the success of the Next Generation Pensions Committee (NextGen Now). When setting it up, I knew there was an appetite for the organisation and the platform that it could provide, but I never envisaged it being so well received.
It's nice to know that, at the very beginning of the journey, there has been so much support and enthusiasm around it. I look forward to seeing exactly how much we have managed to achieve with it. I hope it becomes a prominent figure in shaping how the industry works.
What challenges have you faced and how have you dealt with them?
I actually thought about this the other day. So, there have been situations before where people have thought I haven't been ready for roles, because of my age predominantly.
I think the success I have had in my career is testament to the fact that experience is not all about age. It's about how hard you work, and putting yourself out there I guess.
What are the important lessons you have learned in your pensions career so far?
Treat everybody the way that you would like to be treated, respect everybody you meet, and network a lot. You never know who might have something that is of interest to you in some way and may be able to help you in your career.
What is your top tip for someone looking to progress or start a career in pensions?
For somebody looking to start a career in pensions I would say - speak to lots of people because you will have a better idea of what you might want to do. And for somebody who is looking to progress, don't be afraid to do different things.
You never really know what you want to do - at least I didn't know what I wanted to do until I was actually doing it. So get as much experience as you can, and talk to as many people as you can.
Did you always plan on having a career in finance, or more specifically pensions?
No, definitely not. I actually used to play for Crystal Palace Football Club from the age of 17, and was offered a fresh new contract when I was 23. I didn't actually go to university either before starting my pensions career.
What else can the industry do to get better at supporting and encouraging the rising stars of pensions?
I would say make time for people. I think people so often are very busy, and understandably, but at the same time we need to pass on our knowledge and make time for young people, listen to them and share problems. We can end up in a very bad situation where nobody knows what they are doing otherwise. That's the best thing we can do for rising stars.
I think Professional Pensions did an amazing job with the awards. The fact that there were so many nominations, and it was such a successful evening, just shows how important it is to the industry.
What are the Rising Star Awards?
The Rising Star Awards celebrate the emerging talent in pensions - recognising and identifying the sector's future leaders as well as shining the spotlight on the organisations and individuals that are helping develop and foster new talent in the industry.
To see the full list of winners and read more about the awards, click here.
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