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Advice to my younger self
London partner Carina Radford on what she wishes she had known

November 2021: Carina is a partner in the Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance Practice in London and Chair of the Firm's Global Women's Initiative. Here are her reflections on her career to date.

Don't always say yes (but mostly say yes)
As an ambitious trainee or associate, your natural inclination is to say yes to every request. You don't have to please everyone all the time and sometimes saying yes can impact quality or balance. It's ok to say no. But, having said that, it's important to say yes as much as possible. When I applied for partner, many of those who supported me were colleagues who remembered me assisting, supporting and offering my time.

I enjoy working in a field that feels close to the 'real world'
I started my career working on PFI projects that really made an impact, such as new schools and hospitals. My practice is directly impacted by the wider world–from the 2014 oil crisis, energy transition, sanctions, and even the current UK fuel crisis. I really like that my work is so closely connected to global business and economy.

Look up and look out
As a partner, you are effectively a business consultant to your clients. Knowing their industry, understanding their market and anticipating their needs are all critical. It's also much more satisfying. I always tell associates to look up from the detail of their tasks and understand how their work is part of a much bigger picture and to invest time in getting to know the context of the work.

Understand intergenerational differences
I'm a classic 'Generation X-er'. As a trainee or junior associate, if I was told to do something, I didn't really ask why. Subsequent generations are more inquisitive and want to understand the "why". The possible 'prize' of partnership is not sufficient motivation in and of itself. Adapting to that mindset, as a mentor and as a manager, creates a stronger team relationship and supports effective talent development in our business. 

Give your colleagues the same level of service as your clients
We pride ourselves on the quality of the advice that we give to clients and how we respond and react to their needs. It's just as important to give our colleagues the the same quality of support too. I consider my 'internal clients' as just as important as my external ones. My internal and external networks are the foundation on which my practice stands.

Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.
Being involved in the Firm's diversity and inclusion initiatives has taught me a great deal about myself. It's changed how I interact with my own team and how I reflect on the decisions I've made and continue to make. I absolutely believe that building a level playing field for talent is a central requirement for the strength of our future business.

Ask yourself, what do you want to do?
Some of the most valuable advice that I received was to take a blank piece of paper and write down what success would look like for me. Instead of comparing yourself to others, set out your own vision. Then you can create a strategy and roadmap to get there. 

Always be adaptable
Never say, "I don't do that", or "I can't do that". Ask yourself how you can do it and what you need to learn or adapt to be good at it. My own practice has changed significantly as a result of geopolitics and shifting dynamics in the energy and infrastructure markets. You've got to be flexible and nimble to shift your focus, learn new skills and turn up for your clients where they need you most.