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No Title, No Problem: How I Created My Own Positions Throughout My Career

4min read
Career

We are currently at a very exciting time in the world of business. With the emergence of the sharing economy over the past few years, advancements in technology and AI, an enhanced business focus on global responsibility, and so many other developments, companies are finding themselves with staffing gaps that they'd never even thought of before.


Even at Thomson Reuters, where I lead Corporate Social Responsibility, the once ironclad career ladder with a set progression of steps, titles and responsibilities that you would reach after 3, 5, or 7 years no longer exists, and there's opportunity for individuals to carve out niche roles for themselves within existing companies and startups.

More and more, candidates with what seem like completely unrelated skill sets are being hired in new hybrid roles - many that they've designed for themselves. The reason is that a core set of competencies, not experience in one specific role, is becoming more valuable to companies. Especially in the startup world where businesses are constantly pivoting, companies rely on agile, creative, adaptable employees who can tackle one problem after the next, and connect the individual dots within a company on a larger scale.

Every job I've had since I left the finance world at age 23 has been one that I envisioned and created for myself. The key is identifying your passions and unique skills, figuring out what that looks like for you, and finding companies that fit into your vision. Now, to be sure, the traditional career ladder is very much still there, so finding companies that are forward-thinking and open to change and adaptation is key - but it might surprise you who those players actually are.

I knew at a young age that my passion was for connecting others and helping to better our community and world. I had originally planned to be a doctor - I started pre-med but after college, ultimately took a position in Finance. Being a cog in what felt like a very big machine (not to mention a boy's club), I knew that I needed to find ways to differentiate myself from my colleagues - for the benefit of my career and also to be true to my own values.

Finding Your Passion

In terms of finding your passion - it's never too early, or too late, to get started. I meet so many young women who feel like they haven't yet found their “calling," and many feel lost because of that - like they don't know what direction to go in and therefore wind up being stagnant. Certainly, there's a benefit to identifying this early and making it your one-track mission, but if you're not there yet, my biggest advice for you would be to just go out and explore. Try new things. See where you feel energized, gratified and invigorated. Be observant about your own feelings.

In terms of finding your passion - it's never too early, or too late, to get started. I meet so many young women who feel like they haven't yet found their “calling," and many feel lost because of that - like they don't know what direction to go in and therefore wind up being stagnant.

What Drives You

Examine what drives you. Do you enjoy managing others, or do you prefer to work alone? Do you enjoy building teams and creating job functions? Are you comfortable diving into new challenges that you haven't faced before, or do you prefer to stick to what you know? Do you enjoy working on a series of short-term projects, or do you prefer broader, longer term projects? For me, working with teams to build something was my first passion, and my passion for learning and development came along later.

Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Employers are looking for candidates who can fill multiple roles at once, and it's better for you to have a variety of relevant, but seemingly unrelated skills that can offer value in several areas of the company. Examine your skill set. Are you good at writing, connecting with others, data analysis, or coding? Are you super organized? Do you have language skills? Are you good at helping others solve problems, or do you prefer tackling them on your own? Set out all the skills that you feel you can jump into, and then piece them together to see what a hybrid role might look like for you. At the same time, if there are skills you're lacking but would like to acquire, it's never too late to learn more. For me, tapping into my strengths meant building teams and generating ideas and initiatives from the ground up. I enjoy freedom and flexibility and the opportunity to take calculated risks within a company for the greater good. That's how I originally came to Thomson Reuters to lead learning and development, but that job over time developed into another role where I was leading global corporate social responsibility.

My philosophy on leveraging your strengths is that it's important to know your boundaries and limits as well as what you need and want from a position. For me, I know that I need variety in my work, to be constantly busy, and to be able to build a great team from the ground up. I also know that socializing and time with family is very important to me as well, so I built a system that allows that to happen.

Do Your Research

Identify companies that you'd enjoy working for. Especially among millennials today, company culture is a key factor for attracting talent. Does the company have a culture that you identify with? Would you feel fulfilled working there? Do you prefer working for established companies where processes and roles are set, or do you prefer smaller, developing companies where you can make a larger impact?

Maybe you want to create a new role within your existing company. The best way to do that is to make a list of areas in the company or within your current role that aren't being served. Quantify exactly what additional areas you'd like to take on, or what a new role would entail, as well as why the company needs it. It's ok to start small with one or two new initiatives at a time. Simply raising your hand and showing that you have an interest, and then acting on and fulfilling that interest will show that you can follow through.

Keep abreast of the news. Where are other companies investing that yours isn't? Are you seeing trends in the field that could be applied to your work? Seeing an opportunity early on and jumping at it can give you a head start and provide immense value to your company.

Know The Key Players

The key to being heard in the workplace (or anywhere, really), is to understand the other person's style and thinking, and approach it from their perspective. I was a student in the second class of women to ever attend Washington & Lee University, and at the time, many alumni and students were unhappy with the idea of women joining their ranks.

However, understanding why they felt this way, their concerns and their goals, helped me to approach them with new ideas, and we were able to develop programs and groups to support female students. Understanding what drives the other person, what their needs are, and how you can bring value to the table will help you get ahead. Sell your unique expertise and experiences, and position those things as beneficial to the other party.

Show Your Passion

Have you ever been passed over for a position (or declined to hire someone) because you simply didn't display a passion or excitement for the position? It's more important that you may think to explain why you're passionate about an area or opportunity - maybe it's a personal experience, or something you got a taste of at a previous company but wanted to learn more about.

Sometimes the best candidates are the most passionate, not necessarily those with the most experience. I took a position at JP Morgan straight out of college - I'd been on the pre-med track during college, and never took a single business class, but my skills and passions were able to translate into the finance world.

Take Leaps of Faith

I've always believed that when it comes to new opportunities, you should always say yes. There are a million ways to talk yourself out of doing something - but instead of doing that, tell yourself yes, I want this, here's what I need to get there, here are the reasons I shouldn't or couldn't do this, and then work them out. No obstacle is truly insurmountable with the right attitude.

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.


  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.