Forget “work smarter, not harder” — work smarter AND harder

Working smarter and not harder will only get most people so far in life, so my suggestion? Do both!

Catriona Campbell


I’m not quite sure how, but the end of January is nigh. Even so…erm…Happy New Year. And welcome to my first blog of 2023.

If − like a few friends and colleagues I’ve spoken to since Christmas celebrations gave way to Veganuary — you’re still in need of New Year’s resolutions, I’m here with a suggestion:

‘Work smarter and harder.’

Working harder

Toward the end of 2022, Alison Kay, our UK&I Managing Partner for Client Service, joined Youth Group CEO Jack Parsons on his My Duvet Flip podcast for a chat about career opportunities for young people.

Every minute of the advice-packed episode is worth your time, but one of the reasons Alison gave for getting up the morning really resonates with me: the opportunity to succeed through hard work.

“I think there is no substitute for hard work at all. Whatever job you’re in, wherever you are, if you work hard and put the effort in, you will get the rewards on the back of that.”

“For me, it’s not about how smart you are or what background you’ve come from, but about being willing to go the extra mile, think a bit differently, think outside the box, and come with ideas.”

I also have a strong work ethic and appreciate how far it has pushed me. And although I understand that sometimes a person’s circumstances hold them back from achieving their career goals, I too believe that most people with the drive to make their mark can do just that.

Still, there’s something to be said for working smarter — or, as Alison puts it, thinking outside the box.

Working smarter

Do you remember that story I told last year in my blog on the lack of women in STEM? The one about recruiting male “actors” (and my brother) to front my start-up so I could secure investment? The one about thinking laterally to circumvent the age-old stereotype of a woman unfit to run a tech firm?



Catriona Campbell

Behavioural psychologist; AI-quisitive; EY UK&I Client Technology & Innovation Officer. Views my own & don't represent EY’s position.