Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Art & Science of Building a Career

Over the years I’ve come up with my own theory of how to build a career.

I think about building careers along three dimensions… let’s call them X , Y and Z.

The X dimension is the type of skills that different roles require. So finance skills vs. technology skills vs. marketing skills etc.

The Y dimension is the type of cultural environment in which those skills are used and exploited. It could be which geographic regional culture like American vs. European or it could be the type of business… like family-oriented entrepreneurial group vs. multinational environment or it could be hierarchical vs consensus driven culture etc etc

The Z dimension is the industry domain that that role belongs to …. Consumer financial services vs insurance vs healthcare vs retail etc

Every role can be defined along these three dimensions and as you go through your career you must do three or four things. One you need to make sure you really become an expert at one dimension at least – and do that early in your career. I’m a big believer that as you go through a career, you’ll always be known for one or two things that define you …. almost a safety net. So if everything else is lost, you can go back to your core.

The second rule is to change one dimension every time you move from one role to another. But don’t change two dimensions if you can avoid it and please don’t change three dimensions because that’s a disaster!!

The third is that over a period of three or four moves, change all dimensions. So if you look at role number one to role number four, you should have changed all three. And then you’re in a different culture, in a different industry, in a different domain!!

This way, you can almost chart your career as multiple potential options. So when I was working in highly change-oriented organizations like Unilever, Citibank, and then GE, every time I was asked to move jobs within the organization, it took me pretty much ten minutes to say yes or no because all I needed to do was fit it into this model. So I changed six roles in three years with Citibank. I changed four roles in six years with Pond’s and Unilever and I changed five roles in five years with GE and GE Capital in the early part of my career at GE …. I said yes in 100 % of those situations but that’s a different story I will tackle another day !!

But like most successful ‘mantras’, this one has to be a blend of art and science. The dimensions and rules are the science part of building a career… but you need equal parts of ‘art’ to build a successful career and this comes from investing in longevity, relationships and passion.

The generation that is getting into the workforce today is more impatient, more exposed, and they probably are more knowledgeable. They want everything in life… their gratification has to be instant!! When we hire people and look at resumes, we don’t care what a great job someone is doing today or yesterday, if the resume shows six jobs in ten years, they have zero chance of even being called for an interview. Zero chance! We just don’t call them because no amount of telling me why they did what they did is going to convince me that they’re going to last.

Equity gets created only when time is spent. Knowledge gets created only with time… when you combine intellect with experience. So one of the biggest things that I would tell people coming out of universities into the workforce and joining the workforce today is do not underestimate time, and do not underestimate relationships and both require equity. If someone were to ask me the one joy that I’ve got over twenty-five years of a career, I would say it’s seeing people who have worked with me, who have worked for me, and are now in probably bigger jobs than even they dreamt of . And I can look at them and say part of the reason they are who they are is because of the fact that, "we worked together. "

And the last thing I’d say is to be extremely passionate about what you do. Like Steve Jobs said do what you’re passionate about and be passionate about what you do, otherwise don’t do it. When the two match, there is no difference between work and play. I work twenty-four hours though I might not be in office… because I love what I do. I’m really passionate about what I do. And I think if people actually gravitate to doing things, whatever it is, that combine those two, then I think the chances of being hugely successful is so much better.

38 comments:

  1. Delighted & motivated to read this column espicially the "intellect & experience" piece which are wonderfully fruitful combination

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Thought Tiger !!!, This will surely give a vision to new Joinees and help the ones who have been with the organisation for a long time. Your words are powerful and will makes a big impact on everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks... Tiger... What you have said is true..

    ReplyDelete
  4. So who can explain these tacts better than you ...?? it is awesome and proud to be part of this prestigious organisation... I noted down these tacts ... believe,these are the best lines i hv ever gone through .. simplied & easily adoptable but only if you have a futuristic approach & long run capabilities...

    Mr. Tiger at least i am your die hard fan ...my alltime source of inspiration ... Thnx for this wonderful career guidance post.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is just awesome, great thoughts that can be put into practice, thank you for taking the time to share.Totally agree with the three dimensions, very well defined, Enjoy working with this , well led organization.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice one, thanks for the well-thought out piece.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lovely Sir.. Am a huge fan of yours.. Love the way you speak and your passion.. Pl write more and share your wisdom and experience. God bless

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the great post Tiger! Really insightful... :)

    One clarification though: according to you, a person can "move jobs within the organization" but not 'between' organizations.. - to gain this XYZ perspective.. So my question is: Can't a person gain these career dimensions in the latter way?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Tiger for such a great career advice.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks a lot Tiger for this inspirational blog about Career. And how one should master the art of changing dimension's at a time.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love the 3 dimensional approach...XYZ something am able to relate & take forward.

    ReplyDelete
  12. thanks for sharing your experince with us sir
    ........

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks Tiger !

    Appreciate you taking out time to share thoughts of wisdom and guidance. These are good and applicable for a career starter or a senior manager.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It is really a good learning for aspiring people to design their career path... Thanks Tiger :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Excellent point Mr. Tiger. This really helps us in planning our career wisely.

    ReplyDelete
  16. really motivating and inspiring for the one who just starts their career and for every individual who wants to design their career in a successfull manner..thankyou sir:)

    ReplyDelete
  17. 25 years of experience talks and it talks wisely. I wish every leader in
    Genpact would think like you and talk like you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks Mr Tiger...!! This will really help as a source of inspiration, not only for the new joinees but also for the existing people in Genpact to make a new start and not give up so easily on life...!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Its really incouraging and motivating stuff for building our career and taking it into right direction.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks Tiger for sharing the secret ingredients for a successful career. As the old saying goes " Only those who attempt the absurd or "XYZ" will acheive the impossible "

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is really helpful and thoughtful for each one of us who want to be successful in the career.Thanks so much for publishing your thoughts and love to read a lot of bytes from you ahead..Thanks Tiger.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Tiger: I, too, love my job, and its not a job, its the ability to work with great people and see people move up in their career and at the same time make a impact in the company. Thank you for your words. It provides a path for all to follow. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  23. It's really a source of lerning especially for those who have just started their career and for experienced professional as well. As to how to chart your carrer path accordingly.

    Thanks,

    Rizwan

    ReplyDelete
  24. Well this teaching and lessons comes only after time investment with one focus.....

    ReplyDelete
  25. Pragmatic and Indeed Insightful.....No wonder this comes from a professional with such varied experience....

    ReplyDelete
  26. Very profound. Demystifying the various challenges of life is not easy. To understand it better and, to break it down for others to grasp, one needs to see the interlink between various facets of life and seek inspiration from them.
    I would invite you to my blog to read my understanding of Success and Rewards in life (inspired ny shakespeare).

    http://ignitethoughts.blogspot.in/2013/02/living-rewarding-and-successful-life.html

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks Tiger for sharing your experience and learning on defining career path.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thanks Tiger for this wonderful insight.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Honored to read your thoughts, wonderful way of giving back to the world '

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great Insight and most importantly very well articulated process. I often wonder sometimes what will be my biggest calling in my career. Whhich opportunity will elevate me to the high flying corporate path...answer is longevity, integrity and most importantly passion for a job which I have to live, breathe and consume. Relationships are never honed ad cultivated if one keeps hopping from one job to another. Trust comes with time spent and success comes with spending time and polishing skills during a long period of time...,can't agree more than anything with what you articulated Sir...

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great Thoughts !

    Sunil Kr Manish

    ReplyDelete
  32. thanks for this theory tiger.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Really inspiring, your guidaance about 3 dimensions is career is very good and original and never heard about it before i read ur blog....
    thannks Tiger
    CSRatish

    ReplyDelete
  34. What a Superb view to design carrer of individuals..i am really inspired and would suggest new joinees to read this article and apply in their life...

    Thanks Tiger !!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Very interesting!
    Thank you Sir,you got me thinking....just changed a role in Genpact...jumped from one vertical (domain) to another...trying to make a place.
    This was really helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  36. nice i am addicted to this blog now.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Nice One, thanks for giving insight to the career path.

    ReplyDelete