Q&A: Paving the path to better career prospects

This week we chat to Ineke McMahon, co-founder of the P2P – Path to Promotion – learning and development academy. With almost two decades as an executive recruiter placing CEOs and Directors, Ineke was frustrated with the lack of professional development available for ambitious professionals who wanted to get ahead in their career. Ineke partnered with Amber Renae, who had extensive experience in online learning.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind expanding your horizons from recruitment into career development?

IM: I had been involved in career strategy and executive recruitment for almost two decades and found myself in the career strategist role giving the same advice over and over. I have also been particularly passionate about diversity and seeing women ascend into the C-Suite. I had been speaking at events for years when one woman came up to me afterwards and said she wished there was a way that she could capture the advice from the event… and so the idea was born. Partnering with Amber was a natural progression as she brought all of the skills of building an online platform – and as an ex TV-presenter it seemed like the perfect fit.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge in getting the venture off the ground, and how did you overcome it?

IM: There were a few challenges – building the content took many years for the first course. We did a survey of over two thousand people to understand what people wanted and prioritised in their career development needs and built the content around the results. We ran several test courses which we filmed and further refined the content from there. Building a new business is stressful and challenging, so we were really pleased that soon after launch, we secured some major organisations like Mirvac, Lend Lease and Goodstart.

ISB: Online learning is a growing area – what are the biggest challenges with it?

IM: As a career strategist, I have mostly worked with clients face to face. Moving online was a big challenge. With our signature course, Success

Accelerator, we have coupled it with online group coaching calls, so the students still get personal contact. One of the unique advantages of the Success Accelerator course is that it applies to people at all levels – from a first-year graduate to a seasoned executive looking to get on to boards. Our test run had a group with people at all levels in it, and they all stated that the content was equally as valuable no matter what stage of career they were in.

ISB: How has the current COVID-19 crisis affected your business?

IM: In this current environment, we are seeking a huge spike in enquiries as people look to use this time with mandated work from home periods to invest in self-development. A sense of isolation is one of the biggest risks during this time and people have extra time given their commute is pretty small from their bedroom to their home office! It’s also important to future proof yourself in uncertain environments. When I first started in recruitment, unemployment was nine per cent and I also recruited through the GFC. That was one of the key reasons we started the academy – to help people future proof themselves against an economic downturn.

ISB: What is your vision for the venture in the next couple of years?

IM: My vision for the academy is to see people putting into place the content that we teach and getting ahead in their careers. I have received a lot of personal satisfaction over the years from seeing people get promoted. This is a format for me to get that information out to a broader audience and see people achieve greater job satisfaction and fulfilment.

ISB: And, finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on this journey you’d share with others looking to start their own business?

Billionaire Warren Buffett has repeatedly said in interviews that the best investments that he ever made were in his own personal development – it gives the best returns!

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