Ambitious young people often ask us whether it’s better to work for a small organisation or to join a larger one. “Which would give me the best opportunities?” is probably the most asked question, quickly followed by “Which would give me the better prospects for growth and help develop my future career?”
As with most teasers, the answer is, ‘it depends’. Not very satisfactory for someone wanting a definitive answer, but there are advantages and disadvantages associated with either option.
Large organisations, simply by being large, can offer many advantages. They are likely to offer more structured jobs and career development. You can switch roles to gain more experience in a variety of work areas without having to leave the organisation.
The downside is that the jobs you are given may be very specialised. And change can be so slow. For those with ambition, it can be frustrating and difficult to leave a mark or legacy when you feel you are being treated like a ‘number’ and people don’t have the time to listen to you.
By contrast, smaller organisations provide the opportunity to make an immediate impact as one’s success is easily visible. Small organisations are more agile and flexible; they require people to take more ownership and real accountability.
Sometimes people find they can be asked to take on an enormous breadth of responsibilities with potential for personal growth that they simply wouldn’t have in a larger company. Longer term though, opportunities for promotion and development can be scarce and pay and benefits packages may be worse. And, of course, while success is more clearly visible, so is failure!
The ideal solution, of course, is to get the best of both worlds and gain experience in each type of organisation. This is becoming more of a realistic option in the airport sector as larger airport groups take over independent airports providing wider development opportunities.
And technology means small organisations are increasingly ‘connected’ to the outside world and open to learning. At ACI Europe’s recent Regional Airports Conference and Exhibition (RACE) in Cork, we chaired a session on people engagement, and were struck by the standard of work being done by small airports such as Bristol in the UK.
When it comes to ‘large or small’, consider all the factors, including your life style and values before making your decision. A wise choice can pay off. Niall McCarthy took the opportunity to move from Dublin Airport to gain experience. He is now the managing director of Cork Airport, the winner of ACI Europe’s Small Airports Award for 2017.
And as we are sure Niall himself would agree, not only does he have a challenging and rewarding role, but also he and his family now live in an attractive part of the Irish country. Small can indeed be beautiful!