Career Agility

by

WSSMar2017

FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such influential, well-spoken and diverse leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common:  

  • They did great work and got noticed by influential others around them. These people then became mentors, sponsors, and supporters – that network which helped each of them advance with their work, and with their role and influence.
  • Having this network of support made it easier for our panelists to shift from one project to another, from one team to another, from one company to another, from one industry to another.

Their collective advice for owning your career path is summarized below.

  1. Know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Do what you’re passionate about. Be curious about new ways which would challenge you in good ways, so that you can keep relevant and engaged. Seek the opportunities that would stretch you and make you feel uncomfortable.
  2. Have the confidence to show up and do what you love well! Work with people you like, products and services you can believe in. Always stand by your values and principles, with your integrity intact. Your reputation and brand will speak for itself, and influential people may give you that opportunity to be agile, even if you’re not looking for it at the time!
  3. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Take the ‘go-for-it’ and the ‘what-if’ approach rather than wait for that coveted invitation, that perfect fit, that just-right job description. 
  4. Focus on solving problems in front of you. Doing so may open doors to opportunities which make you feel uncomfortable, but may be exactly what you need to stretch yourself.
  5. Embrace your failures as a badge of courage. Most people learn more about themselves and their world from failures than from successes, so welcome the opportunity to succeed, learn if it doesn’t go quite as expected, and be stronger for every attempt.
  6. Say what you want to do, even if you’re not clear exactly how it will happen to you. If you speak to the right people about what you want to do, that other person may have something in mind which would serendipitously fit your passion. Or they may be able to even create a door if they share your vision and passion! This is a planned happenstance . . . Coincidence? I think not! The luckiest people have adopted this strategy . . . 
  7. The way you communicate is critical to your success. Be clear first with yourself and then strategize on what you’d like to communicate to which audience to help you achieve what you’re looking for career-wise (and in all matters frankly). Market yourself authentically without “bragging”, and help others take credit where and when credit is due.
  8. When asked to compare working in start-ups vs working in corporates, our panelists agreed that working in both are important, and which one you select depends on what your current priorities are.
    • What’s wonderful about working in a start-up is that you get to influence the direction of the company, and shift and evolve quickly with the company. This allows you the opportunity to learn and evolve quickly and bring big-company experience to guide start-ups with their growth and expansion.
    • What’s beautiful about working in a large company is that you can be agile from within – shifting between projects and divisions and geographies, all with great opportunities for stellar growth, for lasting impact.
  9. Empower and encourage your team to step up and be heard if they want to have a seat at the table.
  10. Glom on to leaders and mentors and team members you admire and work well with. You may go through many journeys together.

The bottom line is that our panelists have encouraged us to both being open opportunities which arise while also setting boundaries based on who you are in terms of skills and values, what you want to do next, and what’s happening otherwise in your life. If you’re self-aware enough to know what you want when, you will be much more likely to have your cake and eat it too!


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba, an HPE company, and our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks, on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, SignKloud
  • Panelist Aimee Catalano, VP, Partner and Integrated Marketing, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Jennifer Miller, VP and Associate General Counsel, Gigamon
  • Panelist Maria Olson, Vice President Global & Strategic Alliances, NetApp
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks 
  • Panelist Jessica Swank, VP Human Resources, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company 
  • Panelist Tricia Yankovich, Head of HR, Five9
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