Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My Career - Part V - the Future

This is the fifth and final part in my series of posts describing my career story. You can find the earlier posts in the series here. I will break this post into two parts. In the first, I'll share something with you about my career plans, in the second I want to share some of the career insights I have gained over the years. This post may be interesting for you even if you did not read the other posts in the series.

My Career Plans -

I really enjoy my current position as a VP at a small manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. Assuming I don't screw up big time and lose my job and that the company doesn't go out of business, I intend to stay with the company for the next several years. In my current position I have tremendous exposure to senior executives, both in and out of my industry. This is a phenomenal networking platform on which to build my next career steps.

As the company grows, I will also likely be asked to build my team. I have managed teams in the past and have even built them from scratch, and it is always a challenge I look forward to. My motto: make fewer mistakes every time... :-)

Someone once asked me if I am ready to become CEO of a company. The simple truth is that I am not. I lack the seasoning, experience, and let's face it, some critical skills needed to run an organization. Having said this, I am actively preparing myself to take that role some day. Will it be in the next 5 years? I don't think this is likely. However, in the next 7 to 10 years, it's possible. This is my ultimate career goal: I would like to run a technology company and take it from early stage to acquisition or IPO. To achieve this goal I need to build a reputation, gain executive experience in my industry, develop the connections with people who may offer me such a position, and most importantly gain the skills necessary to succeed in such a position if I am given the opportunity. Sounds ambitious to you? It certainly does to me. Dauntingly so. However, what's the point in having an ultimate career goal if it's not an ambitious one?

My Career Insights -

If you have been reading my career story over the past week, you know that it has been a really strange one. I went from being a lawyer to being an executive, to starting my own business, and back up the corporate ladder. It's been quite a ride. One of the things that are very clear to me is that you have to expect set-backs in your career. When they happen, roll with them, knowing that they are temporary.

The other thing I learned is that you have to do something you like. On paper, owning my own business seemed like a great idea. I did OK running that little venture, but I really didn't like the lifestyle. It is OK to admit that something is not working out, and when you do that, the right thing to do is to move on. At the time I was ashamed of having admitted defeat. Now, I am thankful for having had the courage to move on.

People are the most important thing to consider in deciding whether to take a position or whether to pass on one. Is there someone that you can learn from? Are the people ethical? Will they back you up when it's go-time? Will they play fair with you? If you don't think you will get fair treatment, get the hell out. You don't have to do it immediately, but start looking asap.

Finally, a career is a very long thing. There is a lot of room for making mistakes AND for correcting these mistakes. Very few mistakes are career enders. A lay-off is a temporary bump. A bad boss is a minor detour. Careers - like investment results - are measured in decades, not quarters or even years.

At the end of the day, it's all about doing what you want to be doing.

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frugal zeitgeist said...

Thanks for posting this series. I have really enjoyed it.

guinness416 said...

Yeah this was really interesting, thanks. The "careers are measured in decades" thing is a good conclusion, I'm often as neurotic as anyone about what I'm doing RIGHT NOW to the exclusion of being able to think ahead properly. I think you'd be a good mentor for people working for you.

Shadox said...

Thank you both for your kind comments.

Guinness - what you are doing now certainly has an impact on your career and it should be taken into account, the trick, though, is to understand that (i) there is a a lot of time to correct mistakes; (ii) the importance of the current position should not be over estimated; and (iii) sometimes positions that seem boring or even positions for which you think you are over qualified can actually lead you in a very good direction (my career being a great example of that).