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Career planning Mentoring Personal development

Tips for young women starting out in their career

carreer womenIf you are career minded and want to get on, there are 5 things to start doing now, don’t leave it too late to achieve the following:

1. Sales and Finance

Both skills can lead you to a CEO role. Rarely is the top role filled from other disciplines in a business. So nailing one or the other or both, is essential is you plan on getting to the top. Sales has had a bad wrap, but it is the best place to prove yourself by delivering outstanding results.

Action: Land a sales role or finance and get exposure to the other, by working with those teams, understand what they do and how you can learn from each other.

2. Public speaking

If you are not able to hold a room, then your career will come to a screeching holt. No matter how good you are, public speaking is key.

Action: Join Toastmasters and practice practice practice

3. Mentors

Find great mentors inside and outside the business. Ask your boss to help find the person in your organisation. Outside ask your family or friends. Once you have established contact, its your responsibility to schedule the catch ups ie once a month.

Always go prepared with questions for your mentor. This is a great opportunity to seek out advice on how to deal with situations, understand what they have done to get on in their career. Most important: Be vulnerable.

Ensure you thank and acknowledge feedback. Get comfortable as you cannot get to where you are going without feedback. It’s a lifetimes work.

4. Networking

Meeting new people, making new connections, helping them with their goals, is the only way to get on in life and business. It’s also gratifying helping others and they never forget your generosity. Use every opportunity to get out and network.

A great read, to help you learn and implement great connection with others is How to win friends and influencers people by Dale Carnegie

5. Develop an opinion on whats happening in the world

Not only develop an opinion, share and challenge others. This will build confidence. You dont have to agree with anyone, be seen as holding your own views. One of the criticisms of women by senior men, is that women don’t have an opinion on whats happening in the world.

Also look at your behaviour, ie giggly girls is not how you want to be remembered.

Good luck with your ambitions, ensure you get as much support as you can and remember to let others know your plans along the way otherwise they will fill the void with wild assumptions that I can guarantee are not going to help you. As my business coach says to me ” never die wondering” in other words ask the questions and speak up!

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Career Change Career planning Leadership Personal development

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

This is one of the most common question I get asked. After making the decision to go from tech start up to Corporate five years ago I spoke to a number of business women who are doing non exec roles for ASX200 Businesses, my ultimate aim from going into corporates. Understanding their perspective on what I needed to do over the next decade was critical to my success.  I met three senior non execs who told me not to leave exec leadership before 55, many women do and they have insufficient leadership experience to secure board roles on ASX200.

Regarding education, I only have a BSC in Business and Computing, they advised me to do the AICD Directors course as the governance and risk component of the training was invaluable. With 25 years business experience the MBA had less value.  I followed the advice.

Here are my top tips on how to decide, do I do an MBA?

1. “What do you want to do in the next 10 years?” Once you are clear on this you can plan your life backwards to what you need do.

2. Find at least 3 people who are doing what you want to be doing in 10 years time. Meet with them, explain your dilemma re:MBA. Ask them what an MBA would do for you? What value would it add to your career?

3. Always ask those three people, is there anything you can do to help them, they will appreciate that you are interested in them, you will also be surprised that they have learnt as much from you, as they have shared with you!

4. If you decide to do an MBA because you want to do it for yourself and no other reason. Do it, learning because you want to versus need to is far more pleasurable.

If you have no Tertiary education, there are many companies that will not consider you for a senior role. I started my degree part time at 24, put on hold for a decade and finally completed at 39.  My boss of 20 years could not understand why I was doing the degree when I had been the MD of European business for over 15 years, he use to say you could teach the professors.

When I did the BSC degree part time, I did it for me. To prove I was capable of doing it. What I got from the experience was far more: learn to challenge thinking, models IE Porters five forces, Boston matrix and more.  I loved it. The only time I have needed it to secure a role was when working at Salesforce.com it was a minimum requirement. I use the models I learned on my  degree courses and reference them all the time.

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

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Career Change Career planning Leadership

Career planning: Where are you going? What do you want from your career?

For many people not knowing what they want to be when they grow up stays with them most of their life. Women in particular find it difficult as they are waiting to be selected for their next role based on other people’s views of what they are good at,  rather than being clear about what they want. This becomes the greatest obstacle for success and greatest source of frustration and disappointment.

I was in this situation 4 years ago and breaking a habit of a lifetime of saying No to roles that don’t fit your career brief criteria is really hard.  My third start-up was behind me and I knew I had to stretch myself in a new way and my eyes were firmly set on a corporate role, yet the first five opportunities I was offered were all tech start-ups for US corporates wanted to set up operations in Australia. It was so tempting, as it was what I knew, thank goodness for Phil Crenigan my business coach who kept me focused and challenged me when he had a sniff that I was even entertaining any start-up opportunities.   I am forever grateful for his council on being clear before looking about your next move, and saying No so that when the right opportunity emerged I was ready.

In contrast having a career plan for the next 10, 20 years even if it changes allows you to plan and prepare for your next move. It also allows you to socialize with your peers, mentors, sponsors and executives and gain their input and thoughts on the best options for your future and open up projects that give you exposure where you need it.

I enjoy being on boards of tech start-ups and the businesses I have run over the last 20 years, so I am looking to become a non exec director on ASX boards in the next 10 years. To achieve this I need to be a Senior leader in an ASX business. I spoke to many Senior leaders who were doing the role I am looking to do and all advised me the following: women leave exec leadership too early, you need to remain in exec leadership in ASX businesses until your 60. Many leave in their early 50s and have insufficient experience at a senior level. When asking about education all recommended the AICD course as a must.  Seeking advice of people doing what the role you aspire too is essential for preparing for success.

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. Alan Lakein

 Where are you going? What do you want from your career?