Thirty years ago it was commonplace to know individuals who spent their entire careers with the same organisation, and sometimes in the same role. Today, not only is it exceedingly rare to know such people, few of us have even heard of it happening in the current environment. Indications are that average tenure of three to five years will not only be more common, but it will be well regarded by employees who are seeking well rounded, self confident, adaptable personnel who embrace change.
This is not a call to pack up and move, though if career change is probable, it makes sense to be in control of that process and obtain the very best outcome each and every time. If we are not in control, the likelihood is that we either work within our comfort zones and make incremental changes to the roles and organisations that we have worked with before, or someone else makes that decision for us and we accept something even less acceptable.
The following is a very simple process that provides each of us with the opportunity to create the very best supply chain career that we are capable of achieving, and one that is enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding;
1. Preparation: ideally, be in the position where you choose to move and not have to move. If not, the likelihood is that we will naturally make compromises based on a variety of pressures (including financial).
2. Environment: find some space where you can be by yourself, clear your mind and relax. This might be a library, a beach, a park, a mountain top, or whatever works for you. If you can meditate, try that. Take a pad and a pen.
3. Dream: this is one of those rare opportunities in adult life where we can give ourselves permission to take time out to reflect and visualise our precise career aspirations, and then capture them in writing before we return to the ‘realities’ and distractions of our current lives.
A useful way in building your ‘dream’ is by providing some structure to the process:
A. Client or service provider? Whilst the grass is seldom greener on the other side, some of us have personal styles or experiences that make us better positioned to flourish in the more frenetic world of a multi-client service provider, or alternatively, in the sometimes more politically active and often frustrating (as you may manage the provider but not have direct control over the daily process) world of the client.
B. What industries attract? Have you always wanted to work in automotive, or pharmaceutical, high technology or textiles, clothing and footwear? Identify the industry (or industries) that most appeal and write them down.
C. Which organisations do you admire? With some of us, the name of those organisations that we always secretly wanted to work with will immediately come to mind, whilst others will need to approach this from the perspective of an organisation’s values, either demonstrable through their actions or aspirational through their marketing material (web sites, advertisements, annual reports). The values that attract are deeply personal and are not something that can be prescribed by a well meaning friend or colleague. To some, it may be environmental considerations, whilst to others it may be employee respect and development opportunities, global career opportunities, scale, ownership or simply commercial success and sustainability. Identify those organisations that you truly admire and would be proud to tell your friends and family and write them down.
D. What roles do you aspire to? Now that you are starting to understand the provider versus client relationship, the industries that appeal and the organisations that you admire, it is time to be brutally honest about the roles that you cherish, either due to your existing skills, qualifications and experience or you are prepared to seriously invest in your own development in order to be capable to obtain these roles. Write them down, and if development is required, start mapping realistic milestones to take you from your current position through to successfully commencing your desired role/s.
This entire process may take hours, days, weeks or months depending on the clarity that you already possess and the urgency that you apply to the task. The true value from this process is in the amount of focus that has been applied and the quality of the documentation in each step. You now have the potential for multiple, concurrent sources of realising your chosen supply chain career as your new-found focus and clarity will aid the reticulator (part of the brain that filters out unnecessary information and provides additional focus) in picking up on magazine articles, branded company vehicles, advertisements, etc. that relate to your choice/s, whilst ignoring others. You also have the option of engaging one or more recruitment consultants to conduct tailored database searches and to approach potential employers on your behalf.
Whether you decide to take up this challenge (in part or full) at some stage is totally your choice. This is your life and your career is solely your responsibility, though the old adage ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’ is still certainly appropriate. Enjoy dreaming.
*Excerpt from MHD Supply Chain Solutions, May/June 2008 (p.64)