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Insecure Overachievers

Leaders of elite professional firms and financial institutions reveal the secrets of the workplaces where thousands of bright, eager graduates apply to join every year.

Presenter Professor Laura Empson, of London’s Cass Business School, hears from current and former leaders in elite professional firms and financial institutions who pull back the curtain on a secretive world which tens of thousands of bright, eager graduates apply to join every year in the hope of developing a glittering career.
The programme highlights the fact that many of the professionals in this world are ‘insecure overachievers’: exceptionally capable and fiercely ambitious, but driven by a profound belief in their own inadequacy. Their ability and relentless drive to excel make them likely to succeed in the competitive environment of elite professional and financial firms, but the work culture is also taking advantage of their vulnerabilities.
Although successful City careers are associated with high salaries and eye-watering bonuses, the work culture can place excessive demands on many workers, and lead to break-downs, health problems and serious social damage for a significant number every year.
The chairman of two massive financial institutions shares his feelings of insecurity, and how he deals with them, together with senior partners from magic circle law firms and world-leading consulting firms.
But, as Empson’s research reveals, this culture has not been ‘designed’ or enforced from above: it is largely unconscious and self-reinforcing.
Over the past 25 years, leaders have often spoken to Laura Empson about their insecurities – but only ever in confidence for her academic research. Now they talk openly for this BBC Radio 4 documentary, to reveal the secrets of a working culture that can attract and intimidate in equal measure.

Presenter - Professor Laura Empson, Cass Business School.
Producer - Jonathan Brunert

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28 minutes

Last on

Wed 26 Sep 2018 11:00

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