As I have talked over the past several months with many different reporters and writers of many stripes, it has caused me to reflect frequently about the past 20 years and the transformation that I have experienced in my professional work life. It also got me wondering what the stories might be from others both inside and outside our membership.
In talking with our Executive Editor Lauryn Franzoni about this, she suggested it would probably be both fascinating and fun to learn more about other's “passages” so we thought a blog post would be one place to begin. So, in the interest of the “you go first” custom, here goes:
The short version is that the company I was working for as the VP of International Personnel was bought. For the first time in my life (at age 48), I found myself looking for a job when I didn’t already have one. In about the time it takes one to pull away from touching a hot stove I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the way this felt at all, and the longer the search went on, the more I felt that the process was broken. What I thought ought to be a relationship based on a win-win outcome was one that felt like win-lose and very adversarial to boot.
After all, it seemed to my (then) naive way of thinking that organizations seeking senior-level talent and executives who were seeking stimulating and rewarding careers had the same goals in mind. Find the right fit for both.
Said differently, I thought that from a job seeker’s perspective, all I was asking for was the opportunity to compete for a real job at a time that was meaningful and to be treated with a reasonable degree of professional courtesy. Didn’t seem too crazy a notion at the time (and still doesn’t.)
Looking at it from the recruiter’s perspective (and having been in HR I thought I had a reasonable understanding of how that world worked), I knew I would want to be able to identify qualified candidates when I needed to, have confidentiality when needed, and not get into a fight with anyone over what “qualified” meant. That too did not seem to be a concept that was too far out of step.
So, how to try and become a Don Quixote lookalike and pick up the pieces of this broken process? The answer over time turned out to be an effort to create a community where both recruiters and senior level executives could come together in a career and business network not only with confidence but when needed, in confidence.
Reflecting on the experience, I keep thinking how very fortunate I was to have stumbled along the happenstance path of career planning and end up being able to make my living from something about which I was and continue to be passionate about to the point of obsession.
There is an old saying that I am sure most of us have often heard: “Luck: where preparation meets opportunity.” As I think about my own experience, that is a fair descriptor. In my case, I know that the 25+ years I spent in the corporate world certainly qualifies as “preparation.” What I didn’t know at the time was the “luck” was that my employer was bought and I was thrown into an uncontrollable situation. I didn’t immediately recognize the event as an opportunity.
So I am wondering what others’ experiences have been as they look back at their career over the past 20 years and what “learnings” or stories they might be willing to share in the comments section of this blog posting.
Where were you professionally 20 years ago?As an incentive, I am willing to do this:
Was there a pivotal event or person responsible for your leadership track?
Where are you professionally now?
There was an incredibly interesting discussion that went on for several weeks recently in our General Management Roundtable. The discussion came from a member who was about to take on his first role as a CEO. His question to the roundtable was “What advice would you have for me?”
So rich was this discussion that Lauryn and her team created a whitepaper, Lessons from Leaders: Advice for a First-time CEO. Whether you are aspiring to be the CEO or already in the big chair, advice contained in this paper is something that any of us in a leadership position would find of real value.
You can give as many or few details as you feel comfortable, and as long as I have your email address, a copy is yours. If you are too much of an introvert to post it here, you can email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org