Your Goals #2: Dial in on Direction
- In this second video of the series on goals, we tackle the difficult task of identifying a specific set of career coordinates to establish your direction that will allow you to dial in on your most promising MBA career.
- In the previous video about using goals to make the most of your MBA, we established that when your goals are high, your performance will rise to the occasion, so the tone of our talk today continues to be deliberately aspirational.
- We bring forward the concept that you are completing your MBA, because you believe it will make a difference in your life and that you are driven by motivators that range from extrinsic rewards (like money and recognition) to intrinsic rewards (like excellence and world impact.) We exposed an operating system of giving and getting, which has its greatest advantage in your understanding and leveraging the big difference you can make in the world
- Admittedly, determining your purpose can be difficult, but if you could identify, from the inside out, what matters to you, and pinpoint your purpose…let’s refer to that as your true north…
- Then, given that destination, just like planning a road trip, you could plan the best route from where you are now, to that new location.
- Think about it as Google-mapping your career. Right now, you can enter your current address, but in order to get somewhere, you also have to enter a destination too. And like Google maps, you often have several choices about the routes that can connect you from where you are to where you want to be. Okay, so in plain terms, we’re talking about career direction.
- Building on the mapping model, let me introduce the some career coordinates. The MBA opens up many new career channels and, given how time flies in b-school, it happens quickly. New career terms come flooding into your lexicon giving you a greatly expanded sense of “what’s out there,” and that’s what you signed up for – more options – but in the suddenly-huge “careerscape,” it isn’t always easy to know how to move forward. To help find forward, we’re going to work with some basic career coordinates. First, industry, which is the principal business activity of any company. And then, function, which is the work you would perform for that company within that industry.
See if this dial analogy will help you to understand that career choice becomes more manageable when you when you consider what business you want to be involved in and what you want to do for that business. Let’s say you want to work in the energy sector and based on your talent and interests, you might want to do finance or maybe strategy. Okay, let’s break it down.
- Have a look at this chart, which depicts the Global Industry Classification Standard. GICs is an industry taxonomy system created for the global financial community to help organize major public companies according to their principal business activity. There are 10 industry sectors, 24 industry groups, 68 industries, and 154 sub-industries, so the business world is pretty big. But by considering this high-level representation with the 10 biggest categories and the biggest companies in each category, we can start to understand how to use the term industry.
- Check in with yourself and see what comes to mind as we look at few industry alternatives
- And how you might realize the highest return on your capital investments to stoke stakeholder confidence…
- in any number of markets, when you consider established and emerging markets, and the dynamic shifts in discretionary and staple consumer goods, there’s an awful lot of business opportunity out there.
- So do think about what you could bring to the world. Imagine what you could build, in your target industry. And how smart it would be. With your particular brand of brilliance…
- And that leads us to the function coordinate. Just as we saw in industry, you have an array of choices.
- The more traditional business functions may be easy for you to recognize, like finance and marketing, and operations;
- even supply chain may be familiar;
- technical and human infrastructures that make those gears turn, like IT and HR;
- communication roles that connect functions within the enterprise and then connect the enterprise with other enterprises, externally;
- business developers who also work across enterprises to create partnerships that will add value;
- general managers who orchestrate all of the parts and strategists that set the whole complex up for advantage and efficiency;
- strategists could function in an internal corporate capacity or they could be third-party consultants from outside;
- stewards for the social responsibility of the business; with an MBA, you can decide whether you want to perform in any of these roles working for an established employer or in all of them working as an entrepreneur starting your own venture.
- When we consider both industry choices and function choices, we’re presented with a good number of alternatives. In some cases, we will want to or need to add the geography variable into the mix, so it’s easy to succumb to overwhelm. But don’t.
There are exercises that can help you determine exactly which industries make the most sense for you and exactly where your functional fit may lie.
- Let’s begin with introspection. Notice which part of your brain you prefer to use. Do you like the logical, factual, analytical functions at home in the left brain or the creative, integrative, imaginative functions at home in the right brain – or are you comfortable toggling between the two? Not sure? Let’s look a little bit further… for evidence of your preference.
- Let’s look retrospectively at our career so far and see if you can isolate the experiences that have been highlights. If we can isolate the experiences that have been your highlights…
- Let’s call those your sparkling successes. We might be able to unpack the attributes or talents that were at work in those accomplishments…
- Taking it one step further, we could then plot those sparking successes or accomplishments on the happiness grid. Put those accomplishments or experiences when you were not so happy, below the line and those accomplishments or experiences that made you happy above the line. Then unpack the happiest of experiences and see if you can determine what drove those. What were the talents and attributes that were at work, when your work shone and it was most fulfilling to you?
- That allows us then to look prospectively, to project out into the future and make some decisions about what we want to eliminate from our professional portfolio, and what we want to continue to invest in -- in terms of industry expertise or function expertise -- that will allow us to grow a career story that’s above the happiness line.
- Another activity you could try is to see how you behave, say on the Internet or with external intellectual experiences. When you are googling around, what kind of information do you gravitate toward?
- Even in your offline behavior -- say hard copy reading, conversations -- generally thinking and ideation. Where do you stick?
- Notice where you stick and then think about a creating a career scrapbook. In your travels, online, offline, in conversation, in your thought processes, clip the articles and images that really capture your attention. Where are you riveted? Clip those and store them in the same place, so you have a collection of images, thoughts, articles...
When you’ve amassed a good sample, take a look at your collection and see what the patterns are. What fascinates you the most? Does that clarify for you what to eliminate, and does that clarify for you what you want to consider more seriously as industry and function coordinates?
- You don’t have to do all of this work by yourself. Your coach can help you deconstruct your story, experiences, your online and offline behaviors to bring you to a clearer sense of the industry and function that might be a the best fit for you.
- In addition to the more organic approaches we’ve talked about, there are some structured, objective instruments which can help you determine the best industry and function fit for you. Career centers have access to these assessments, so if you feel you need a more structured approach to clarification, request to take the assessments, then spend time with your career coach to debrief them and then together, you may find that they will surface for you some really good ideas about industry and function.
- There are also tremendous resources that will help you determine, from an industry and function perspective, what’s going on in the MBA job market. There’s Vault, Wetfeet, many profiles on LinkedIn. But perhaps the single most informative resource is the informational interview. These are conversations you can have with peers, with alumni, with other people in your network who are in industries that interest you or performing in functions that interest you. Sit down with these folks and find out what their work is like and see if the work that they do, resonates with you.
- So far, we’ve been talking about career direction, in terms of the industry and function coordinates in order to discover where you belong. Let me layer on top of that what I would call career modes. So you could work in a particular industry, in a particular function, in the corporate mode, in the public mode, in a third-party consulting mode, or in an entrepreneurial mode.
- Here is a simple instrument that might help to quantify somewhat qualitative values. You can create a simple chart in Excel that will allow you to evaluate how important the work is to you, how successful you might be, the value you could bring to an employer, the rewards that would be implied by that, and how the work fits into your overall career plan. I’ve also included a section called bonus factors that might have to do with location for example – if there is someone you care about in a certain city, that could be a bonus factor for you. So each of these elements could then be scaled, from 1 to 10, for both the function, there on the left, and the industry, there on the right, in order to provide a sub total for that industry, a subtotal for that function, and a grand total for that combination of function and industry, overall. You could build a chart like this and compare maybe 1option, in this case, a finance function in the energy industry
- To second, in this case, that strategy function in the energy industry
- To a third case, like this one with the strategy function in the energy industry, but from that third party perspective.
- If you aren’t perfectly sure about the industry and function that make the most sense for you, spend some time exploring and evaluating your options. Spend some time talking with your career coach about it. Consider some introspection, some retrospection, some prospection. Consider some objective, structured assessments, so that you devise a clearer formula to guide you to guide you toward what you want to be when you grow up. And so that you can move with greater certainty toward a career and a future that allows your talents and interests to work together in alignment with your purpose.
- Adding more specific career coordinates to your overall mission, will enable you to start to map your career, to bring into focus the route from where you are now to where you wish to be, and ultimately that will make the steps from here to there, clearer to you, so that you can advance on that most significant and rewarding career path.
Assistant Dean, MBA Career Curricula of the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. Patty worked for over 20 years as Master Recruiter, Trainer and Human Resource Manager. She managed recruiting efforts for major employers and served as a relationship agent, navigating employer/employee relationships to complete placement assignments. Patty shared this expertise with professionals new to the recruiting industry as Trainer. Her final ten years in industry also included the performance of HR generalist functions.