WTW’s global head of M&A Amanda Scott (pictured) has had a remarkable career to date, punctuated with plenty of standout moments and reinforced by a lot of great advice. Looking back on what she considers the best advice she ever received along her professional journey, Scott highlighted that “what makes you odd will make you great”.
“Almost 20 years ago, I started my career as an analyst in the retirement business, taking actuarial exams, doing valuations and benefits calcs – and I loved it, but I was middling at best,” she said. “I was working hard and getting by that my peers were brilliant. And they outshone me, and they outpaced me in promotion and progression. So, I tried to fill the gap through extra effort, 120% billable hour targets and client feedback. But I just knew I didn’t fit into the box and I desperately wanted to.”
At every performance management meeting she had with her supervisor, Scott would go in braced for the feedback she would receive. She always glossed over the positive feedback to get to the negative, she said, so she could continue to sharpen her focus and just concentrate on trying to get better. One day her supervisor gave her some advice that changed everything – to stop focusing on the negative and try to also look at the positive feedback that is being shrouded by that negativity.
“So, we took a deep breath and we started over and read through the positive feedback again,” she said. “[And it] really highlighted the fact that I should think about a consulting role based on client feedback and the broader strategic thinking that I like to do. And as a budding actuary hopeful, it was devastating feedback at first. But then I realised she was helping me pivot, and she was highlighting my strengths and helping me understand that what makes me odd could make me great.”
From that point on, Scott started embracing the client relationships and client focus that is her strength and attained an MBA to strengthen her capacity for strategic thinking. She embraced her passions, she said, and while she still focused on building a strong baseline of technical competence, she also worked on the things she was naturally strong at.
“And every time, I feel like I no longer fit in a box, I do think back on her advice,” Scott said. “And I give that advice often because people do find themselves are a round peg in a square hole, and feeling like maybe they don’t fit in. But absolutely what makes you odd will make you great.”