Beyond Cake and Coffee: Transforming Your Career

Beyond Cake and Coffee

Transforming Your Career

What a day for Mark and Kelly! Mark and Kelly are managers in the corporate finance organization. They earned their MBAs through the same executive MBA program. Their department had a cake and coffee celebration to recognize their accomplishment. The corporate chief financial officer (CFO) attended the celebration and personally congratulated them. Mark and Kelly believed that promotions would come for them. They felt they had arrived.

Fast forward 3 years later. There is another cake and coffee celebration. This time the celebration is for Mark. He has been promoted to Director, Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis. Mark received a significant increase in his base salary and now qualifies for an annual performance bonus of 50% of his base salary. The CFO attended the celebration and congratulated Mark. Mark had arrived.

Kelly is still a manager. Kelly is disappointed that she has not advanced in the organization and is envious of Mark.

Kelly returns to her workspace after Mark’s celebration. She ponders about her situation and decides to ask Mark what he did to get promoted. She invites Mark to have a discussion at a local tavern after work. Mark accepts Kelly’s invitation. This is how the conversation went.

Kelly:  Congratulations on your promotion.

Mark: Thank you.

Kelly:  Those 2 years earning our MBAs were quite challenging.

Mark: Yes, they were. I remember juggling my workload, evenings, and weekends. I scrambled to my son’s soccer matches and my daughter’s dance recitals.

Kelly:  I juggled my schedule to make it to as many of my daughter’s Brownie programs as I could. I gave up following the Cubs. I had been a Cubs fan since I was in elementary school. I got to the point where I could not tell you the Cubs’ starting lineup.

Mark: It’s a good thing we had understanding and supportive spouses.

Kelly:  You betcha!

Kelly:  When our organization had the celebration for earning our MBAs, I felt that I would be given more responsibilities, assigned to high-visibility projects, and be promoted. This did not happen. It was if I never earned an MBA. New college hires from MBA programs were offered starting salaries that were close to mine even though I had several more years of experience.

Mark: I anticipated what you experienced. I witnessed what others in the company experienced in other organizations and what some of my colleagues experienced in other companies. I decided to take control of my career.

Kelly:  What did you do?

Mark: Do you remember the Information Technology meeting that Virginia Chambers conducted when she joined our company as CIO?

Kelly:  It was quite an energizing event. I remember Virginia announcing that she would initiate a transformation of the IT organization. This transformation would position IT as a strategic partner with the business units in our company.

Mark: Do you remember the transformation process Virginia explained?

Kelly: I remember the announcement, but cannot recollect how the transformation would be executed.

Mark: The transformation process entailed establishing a future state for the IT organization, a description of what Virginia wanted the organization to be. She then informed the organization that they would assess where the organization was at the present time relative to the future state. Virginia called this the current state.

Kelly:  I remember that much.

Mark: Virginia explained that IT would determine what was keeping the organization from being what it wanted to be and the actions the organization needed to execute to migrate to the future state.

Kelly: How did you remember all that?

Mark: I visited the IT organization’s internal website and downloaded Virginia’s presentation.

Kelly: Wow!

Mark: I then thought about my personal situation and my career. I was enrolled in an executive MBA program, but I had not defined my career destination, MY future state.

Kelly: So, you applied the IT organizational transformation to establish your personal transformation.

Mark: Exactly. I focused my destination on advancing to Director, Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis. I went on the company employee portal and viewed the qualifications and key traits included in the position description.

Kelly:  You are making me wonder “Why didn’t I do that?” (Kelly knocks herself on the head.)

Mark: I developed a pro forma resume, the resume I wanted to have when an opening developed for the director position, my future state.

Kelly: You’re punishing me! (Kelly knocks herself on the head again.)

Mark: I identified “bridges” and “gaps”.

Kelly: What are bridges and gaps?

Mark: Bridges are the qualifications and experience I already had for the director position. Gaps were the things I did not have.

Kelly: So you turned the gaps into bridges.

Mark: You got it! I determined what experience I needed. I volunteered for high-visibility assignments like assuming the role of subject matter expert for financial system that was implemented and received the Corporate Game Changer Award.

Kelly: Guess what I am going to do?

Mark: Transform Kelly? 

Kelly: You got it!

Mark followed Step 5, Develop, of the Personal Product Development Process to execute his personal transformation.

Mark became a butterfly.


Did this week’s article generate Aha Moments?

Are you stuck in the caterpillar stage of your personal development?

What happened after your cake and coffee celebration?

Do you have a pro forma resume?

Are you experiencing “I should have” moments in your career?

Share your comments, experiences, and suggestions.

Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions to help professionals plan and execute their personal development. Visit the Contact page on the Fields of Success website to schedule a session.

Next week’s article will cover how to get the support of others to enable your personal development.

Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management and information resource designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their most important economic asset—their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.