Peter Watson speaks to workingmums.co.uk about the service he offers which helps returners and those seeking to change careers to get up-to-date knowledge about specific sectors.
Peter Watson has had two careers. One in investment banking and the other in HR, most recently as a headhunter. Through investment banking – he was an ‘accidental’ stockbroker for 13 years in London and Tokyo – he gained an ability to understand broad-based business trends – and through HR and headhunting he saw how candidates could often fall at the final interview hurdle for lack of up-to-date sector knowledge.
Since 2014 he has combined the two careers to form his career consultancy service – Seiha Consulting, which gives people the tools they need to get the jobs they want – and a daily newsletter, called Watson’s Daily, that helps candidates keep abreast of and understand key business news.
Peter’s own career trajectory is not a traditional one. He got into stockbroking after working for many years in HR, mainly in financial services, where he sat in on interviews for all level of jobs. A contact from university who was a stock broker put him forward for a job advising Japanese clients in London on their stocks and, once out in the exciting atmosphere of the City, he was hooked. It was a world he had no experience of, having grown up on a council estate, but he found it intellectually stimulating and exciting.
In 2012 he was made redundant and turned back to headhunting. Many of the people he interviewed were fed up with their jobs. “There’s quite a difference between the public perception of some companies and the actual reality,” he says. It made him think about what he could do to help more people, given, as he says, headhunting is very much a numbers game to fill a particular job vacancy. “You come up with a shortlist of 10 and only one person gets the job which means nine good people with really relevant skills don’t. I felt I wanted to help those others, but I was not paid to help them,” he says.
Peter initially set up Seiha Consulting alongside his full-time headhunting work. It is a career consultancy where he uses his experience both as an interviewer and interviewee to help people find the job that fits their skills and aspirations most closely rather than an agency that shoe-horns people into the jobs they happen to have available.
“Many people will have to work well into their 60’s now and it is a shame if they are stuck in an environment to which they are not 100% suited. It means they are less likely to be motivated and successful,” says Peter, adding that disgruntled workers can affect the whole mood of a team. Being able to spot opportunities to learn or change career will make them more employable, he adds.
It’s not just people who are looking to change career that he works with. Peter has also worked with people who have taken career breaks and has personal experience of the issues facing returners. His wife was a fund manager, but didn’t return after maternity leave because she didn’t love the job enough to warrant the lack of work life balance it would involve. She now has a job as a financial planner which uses her skills while giving her some home life and is much happier. Peter has written a book in which he advocates taking time for “a life appraisal”.
He is well aware of the impact taking time out can have on confidence and says that lack of confidence comes across to potential employers and often results in a candidate focusing on their weaknesses rather than their strengths. He has also seen, as a headhunter, that one thing that can contribute to that lack of confidence is feeling that they are not up to date with what has been happening in their sector.
For that reason he decided to provide an accessible, daily news and analysis service which updates people who are returning from a career break or looking to change career on what is going on in the sector they want to work in, but also tells them why it is important and what it means.
“Lots of professions are changing and will continue to change as a result of technology. If people do not keep abreast of those changes they will get left behind. It is vital that people have an overview of what is happening,” he says. “Employers need people who can think strategically.”
Watson’s Daily is designed to provide information in a way people can remember. Unlike in a newspaper, where people may read different stories in a random order, Peter groups topics together and links them to what else is going on in a particular sector and sets that in the context of where an industry fits into global trends. It’s a subscription-based service, but costs are low at £2.99 a month.
The news round-up is based on news from the FT, Times, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal and Guardian. Peter provides a neutral synopsis of certain stories, explains why they are important and what the implications are of developments. He says this is a legacy from his stockbroking days when he was constantly asked by colleagues and clients alike which stocks he would buy and sell and why.
To provide this service Peter gets up at 4am to read the papers. He says finding the stories is the easy part. Explaining the implications in an accessible manner takes more time. He sends out the daily report by 8.30am.
Peter, who started working full time on the business last year, also does weekly, monthly and annual editions as well as videos. Since going full time on the business, he has been improving the site’s functionality and is looking to make it more visual, using a mindmap format.
Peter, who has been a regular on financial programmes on tv, has also been working with schools and universities to boost their students’ commercial awareness.
He says: “I really believe in what I am doing. I want to help people and provide them with useful information which will help them find more satisfying jobs.”