The Brokerage's Bridget Gardiner on Resilience
03 Dec 15

Addressing the 33 Brokerage mentees at State Street on Tuesday evening, Bridget Gardiner, the Brokerage's executive director advised them on how to use the experience to build resilience to ensure their future happiness and professional success.


An individual’s capacity to adapt to pressure, setbacks and change to achieve peak performance. It isn’t a fixed characteristic, but can be developed and enhanced through learning activities such as, coaching, workshops and mentoring programmes.

Earlier this year, Ernst & Young carried out a survey to investigate the employability skills of graduates. Over 1,000 university students were surveyed and 60 strengths were tested.
It found that students’ top five skills were taking pride in their work, problem solving, being true to themselves, building relationships and having a sense of humour. The results also showed that they were weakest in time optimisation, showing courage at overcoming their fears, taking risks, making themselves the centre of attention and, perhaps most importantly, resilience.

Resilience is important because graduates will inevitably face setbacks in their job search. However, if they are resilient they will better cope with these challenges. And as their resilience develops they will possess the qualities that recruiters are looking for, such as a constructive work attitude, lower levels of stress and absenteeism, and higher performance, so will be more likely to gain and hold on to employment.

In a few moments’ time one of you will hear you have won an internship at State Street, whilst two will hear they have not. And for many of you in the room, you heard a few days ago that you had not been shortlisted. Yet you are all here, looking and sounding professional and upbeat, thanks to the fantastic opportunity you have had over the past few weeks being mentored by a State Street executive.

Of course you were all winners when you got selected for the Continuum programme. It’s such an overused cliché, but you really are all winners, which is not much of a consolation when you want something badly.

And that’s going to happen quite a bit in your personal and professional lives. Over the next three or four years you will complete your degree and many of you will start working in professional and financial services – at least I hope some of you will if we haven’t put you off! You will experience competition to get the job you want; competition for attention and recognition once you have it; knock-backs as well as praise; promotion as well as being overlooked – and so on.

Some famous people who have shown resilience:
Nelson Mandela
Rosa Parks

And more recently:
J K Rowling
Malala Yousafzai

Sportspeople often have to demonstrate resilience to overcome injury, illness or disappointment – and all in the public gaze.

Andy Murray

Or perhaps you have other examples of people you admire who have demonstrated resilience in the face of pressure.

What examples do you have – and why?

So how do you cope? How can you develop that ability to bounce back?

  • Be flexible
  • Be honest – own up to mistakes or if you need support
  • Be a team player – it’s easier to cope as part of a team than on your own
  • Be realistic – you won’t achieve all you want to achieve straight away
  • Listen
  • Make sure you have a life outside of work – sport, singing, volunteering, dancing – work hard; play hard
  • Look after your health, eat well
  • Support your colleagues when they need it

Finally, be happy – if you made the wrong choice, do something about it. Your generation are going to be working longer, possibly making many different career choices or holding more than one job at a time. You have years ahead of you. If you make a mistake you have plenty of time to bounce back.

Resilience has an important role to play in long-term leadership success. The next generation of business leaders will need to be even better than they are today at adapting to the continuous evolution of the workplace.

With programmes like Continuum, you have been given a great start.

Go for it!

Recruitment services

44 businesses and institutions used our recruitment services last year

Workplace visits

Over 4,500 students visited a workplace in the City or Canary Wharf in 2016

Tell me more facts