Paul Armstrong, Diageo
At university, I realised that my preferences were for general application of my skills rather than specialisation. My first two jobs after graduation confirmed this, and my 28 years with Diageo since then have allowed me to worked in a wide range of roles and areas within the business.
A turning point
In 1998 I had advanced as far up the engineering career path as was possible and was given the opportunity to lead our Trade Technical team. The role had some technical dimensions but was much more about leading a large and geographically dispersed team. This transformed the organisation’s perspective of me from a very professional engineer to a general manager and leader of people and opened the door for my onward progression.
Advice for graduates
Work hard to understand what you like doing and where you derive your energy from and seek to find a career that delivers on this. This may not be immediately clear, so experiment, stay open to possibilities and follow your instinct. The things that give you energy will be key to you being great in that role.
Key skills for future leaders
The right attitude – being positive, flexibile, curious and open to learning, along with an interest in people and rigour of thought, will complement your degree to make you a great recruit and future leader in any business.
Paul Armstrong has a BSc in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast (1978) and in International Executive MBA from University College Dublin (1996).