4min readCareer 02 September 2019
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.
Whether it's your child or your brand, there is nothing quite like the excitement you get when you see the fruits of your efforts grow. In the face of aversion, you must remain cool-minded and adaptable to remain effective. This can be quite stressful, and every minute counts. Alone, the responsibility can be overwhelming - wouldn't it be nice if things just ran themselves sometimes? Especially those things that we do mindlessly all the time, and seem to take up most of our time?
When you start a business, you soon come to realize that in order to grow your brand, you need to be extremely organized. And to be efficiently organized, it is imperative that you master the art of managing your time. The saying 'time is money' rings true when it comes to growth. This is why we're going to provide you with helpful tips that will allow you to save time so you can focus on growing your brand.
Use the Right Tools
Technology has changed the way we conduct our business with each other. Today, more than ever before, we have access to data which gives us clearer insight and vision, as well as better tools for productivity. However, as we all know, this is all conditional to your intent. As much as a smartphone can be a tool for productivity, it can also be a fantastic source of distraction and procrastination, which is directly detrimental to said productivity. Automation is an advantage that is available to almost everyone today when it would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.
When a brand is still young, the team is still close-knit and there isn't too much coordination necessary when it comes to keeping up to date and on top of work. Chat groups and video calls can do, as well as simple task-managing apps. But as you grow, your workflow becomes more complex and the volume of data generated by your company will very quickly become a logistical nightmare.
Telltale signs of data overwhelming are endless excel sheets, frantic Post-it notes all around the (real or digital) office, and relying on the consumer rather than business-oriented data storage and communications solutions. These have their limits, and investing in a holistic company-wide system will not be a waste.
Work More Effectively
Your workflow can be simplified into smaller tasks which follow each other in a sequence, which can have conditional elements to it. That's where automation comes in. If you can draw it in a flowchart, you can automate it. Tasks that would have taken days can be outsourced to a machine that will not only perform but also learn in the process.
There is now a myriad of online services for freelancers which essentially give them the productivity potential of a small firm. We're now at the point where bots at https://www.hellobonsai.com/contract-templates can generate custom templates for the documents your brand needs, replacing the need for a legal consultant to intervene. You just need to know what you want to automate, and what you want to make out of it. If you create a logical process from the inception of your brand, then the automation will be seamless, as all you will need to do is add more tasks.
Be Mobile and Flexible
Most of your coworkers and clients will probably already have a smartphone, or will soon. It is also very likely that beyond using these for leisure and social activities, they use them for work. It is now normal to switch off the heating in that apartment you've been renting out while you are on holiday because your AirBNB tenants are overusing it. Or to track the status of your latest food delivery while you are sitting on the toilet.
Consumers today are not only constantly on the move, but they are also increasingly data-focused. They will be looking for results and have the capabilities they need to research, analyze, and calculate what they deem necessary to ensure they will be making the right decision. They thus also expect the same in return, in the form of bespoke customer service that is both intelligent and responsive.
Data is everywhere and is relatively easy to obtain. In a single click, you can generate a web analysis that will reveal more information about your blog or website than your doctor will ever tell you about your own body. Before diving into this ocean of data, take time to identify what is really important to you. Brainstorming is a great tool to really identify and prioritize what you and your team should be focusing on first. If you try to wage war on all fronts, then the chances of winning are slim.
With the right tools and the right method, you can save yourself quite a considerable amount of time. With both the agility and flexibility that data managing and automation software brings to the table, you will see an increase in your productivity. Careful planning is key, and if you focus on streamlining your workflow, you will be able to take your brand to the next level.