The following is based on a presentation made to the UBCO (University of British Columbia Okanagan) female business students affiliated with the Sauder School of Business on January 28, 2011. (Presenters, Meryle Corbett, CMA,FCMA, CFO at Kelowna Flightcraft Group of Companies; and Paulette Rennie, President of Valley First Credit Union)
What strategies will make YOU successful in business? A group of C-suite executives agreed that the key to a rising business career includes four main characteristics. They are described below in our series, “The 4-eyed employee” :
So what are we talking about? The first “eye” or “I” attribute is the underlying foundation for business success:
1) Education will amplify your career potential
A degree, diploma or certification will give you the fundamental knowledge in your field to be successful.
Statistics show higher education leads to higher lifelong earnings.
My mother always told me “get a career so you never have to rely on a man” — maybe that comment dates me into that 70’s generation, but Mom’s advice has served me well over the past 30 years: I always know I bring a full contribution to the table, both at work and in my relationships. When I feel my back is against the wall, I still have exit strategies and options.
2) Stay current in your field – this is your competitive edge
The pace of change in many industries is mind boggling. Stay current in your skillsets to increase your employability elsewhere or further your career internally. Resumes with current, relevant training always go to the top of the candidate “A” pile.
3) Broaden your experience early in your career – increase your long term opportunities
When you have opportunities to transfer across into other departments within your company (say, from accounting to marketing) TAKE IT! The wider your experience is at lower levels, the more you will hone your “senior management” or “big picture” thinking.
Plus, it’s easier to move sideways at entry levels in business. The higher you rise in an organization, the more difficult it will be to transfer sideways at the same pay level. When C-suite opportunities come along, candidates with broader experience will have an advantage over those who came up the ranks through a traditional, one-stream path.
4) Practice “Lifelong Learning” to stay sharp and on your game
Throughout your career, the greatest success comes to employees who know how to innovate / think outside the box and those who stand out from the crowd. One way to place yourself in this category and catch the attention of senior management is to work on continuous learning.
5) keep an open mind about new possibilities
Sometimes the best opportunities are where we least expect them.
I’ve seen several examples where employees were working in jobs that made them miserable, but with some patience and aptitude assessment, we were able to shift their career path and eventually move them to opportunities more suited to their capabilities and passions.
A founder of a very successful IT company once said, “If you get up more than three days in a row feeling miserable about your job, you need to DO SOMETHING.” Sometimes that means addressing a problem situation at work, sometimes it means beginning a career change.
Maintain your education, continually feed your brain and you will keep your career options open over the long term.