What does a career conversation look like and how can we develop the skills to do it
well and do it often? Interview with Darren Peiris – Head of Talent and Capability –
International at The Kraft Heinz Company

Occasionally I come across an individual who embodies the qualities of an outstanding
leader, who demonstrates skill, knowledge, and proven capabilities in developing people
and that is how I would describe Darren Peiris. Darren is Head of Talent & Capabilities
Development – International at The Kraft Heinz Company. When I first sat down with
Darren over five years ago to pick his brains on his thoughts on career and in particular
‘early career’, I was struck by the calm and compassionate manner in which he
approached his job. I was curious to know more about his approach and the results that
it produced, as it was evident that he held his people in high regard and believed in their
potential. Darren articulated his job as being the coach who helped people realise their
potential. He was able to describe his coaching process with clarity and confidence and it
was evident that Darren was a star, and a star that embodies humility and empathy
which is of course the best kind.

Five years on I wanted to touch base with Darren on his current thoughts on career
conversations and developing careers and his response again demonstrated skill,
knowledge and a passion for developing people.

“A career conversation should be done regularly (at least minimum once a month) and it should be
focused on asking the employee the right questions to get to the answer themselves (think the good
old GROW model). An employee should take ownership of the conversation as it is after all their
career and the leader should use the conversation to shape opportunities where the employee can
focus on development on the job, learning through others and through appropriate learning
experience. Learning the skills to drive a good career conversation is regularly practicing asking the
right questions of people (a great coach never gives their own advice, but rather asks the most
creative questions to allow their coachees to have their ‘aha’ moment, which is what ultimately drives
the change.”
Darren Peiris
Talent & Capabilities Development – International
The Kraft Heinz Company

The focus on career development in organisations like The Kraft Heinz Company is
exciting and with people like Darren leading the way, the future of leadership
development is even more promising. I look forward to continuing to follow Darren’s
career and his work at The Kraft Heinz Company and thank him for sharing his thoughts
on his work.

Jessica Symes Toomey