Behind the scenes in talent management and development: Gill Wilson’s story

Anthony Haynes writes: One of the aims of this blog is to show behind the scenes at FJWilson and introduce our team of staff and associates. Here we introduce Gill Wilson.


Gill Wilson _photo_86What’s your role with FJWilson?

I‘ve not been with FJWilson long ─ since August 2014, in fact. So far, my role has been to conduct what we call a generic interview ─ that is, an interview not associated with any specific role. This means I have an interview of approximately thirty minutes with a prospective candidate that aims to identify the key parameters of the candidate’s job search.

Apart from checking basic, but important, data ─ such as period of notice and salary expectations ─  I want to understand what the candidate regards as the critical features of their next role, what attributes they would like to see in their future manager, and the type of organisation they would like to work for in future. The factors I take into account for this match are the organisation’s size, longevity and culture.

I summarise all of the information I’ve gathered in a brief report, which I then upload to our very clever database. It extracts each point and helps to enrich the candidate’s profile. Our aim in all that we do, is to find the best match possible between job opportunities and each candidate’s aspirations.


What makes your work satisfying?

I’ve always had a passionate interest in people, in the choices they’ve made and, in particular, their career stories. When I undertake a generic interview for FJWilson I am trying to develop insights into what the candidate would like their future career story to be.

Every candidate I talk to is different. That’s what fascinates me. I ask what makes them feel good and bad at work, what kinds of things really motivate them and what their aspirations are for their next role.

I hope, by listening carefully and thoughtfully and recording not only what they say but also what they mean, that I can play some small part in helping them to achieve their goal.


What’s your career story?

My career story has had four main chapters. The first was working as a secondary teacher and head teacher, working with young people with severe behavioural problems.

During the second chapter I took myself to art school and did a degree in ceramics. I did not come from a background of self-employment but I had always fancied my chances. I wondered if I could make a living using my artistic and creative talents. It was time to find out. It was tough, but eventually I built a small design and manufacture ceramic company which exported around the world.

But career development is a serendipitous affair. The big events that matter most are often those which we can least predict. So it was for me. I had developed a chronic back problem and my parents, who were some 250 miles away, became very ill. I sold my business, moved, and embarked on Chapter 3, combining my business and educational experience. I joined a not-for-profit organisation in Cambridge which focused on career development for people aged 14 to 70.

When I was Director of Programmes there, I was fortunate enough to become involved in the start-up of a new website icould, which is now the largest repository of career stories in the world. This was a grand way to exit full-time employment. It further fed into my fascination with how people make the key careers decisions in their lives.

Now I’m in Chapter 4, semi-retired and taking on jobs that interest and stimulate me such as interviewing for FJWilson.


And outside work?

I have moved just recently and I’m currently involved in renovating a house. At the moment, it is pretty much taking up all of my time.  If I ever return to normality I will fully resume my key interests related to walking, cooking, and entertaining.


If you could offer a single piece of advice…

We readily accept, even cherish, unpredictability in many areas of our lives. For instance, when it comes to finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Yet when it comes to career planning, we can think that somehow we can predict and plan the future with a fair amount of certainty.

But if you look back on your career so far, it is likely that it was an unexpected meeting, a surprising insight or the interruption of real life events that have really shaped many of your career decisions. So learn to cherish random events, actively seek them out to increase your exposure to the unknown or serendipitous events.

You can’t make good fortune any more predictable or planned but it is a strategy that will make good fortune more likely. Sometimes you just need to listen to the space between our frenetic daily routines. Who knows, it may be an out-of-the-blue phone call from Fiona Wilson that could provide a life-changing turn in your career…?


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