As I travelled around Spain on my recent annual vacation, I had a thought about career progressions. Inspired by how we got to some of the sights. Some on mountains were reached by stairs while others had winding roads that got us there. Two different ways. Similar destinations.
I remember the time when my view on how my career should progress was very simple.
My career path was like the stairs up one side of a mountain, in my case an advertising agency. I started at the lowest rung and gradually worked my way up until I got to the highest rung possible. The expectation was that I would stay at the same company for a long time and get rewarded for this loyalty with stability and security.
This approach went the way of dinosaurs very early in my career. The pace of change and the disruption of business models has made this legacy approach irrelevant and archaic.
The new view to career progression is the way we actually climbed the mountains, especially the Montserrat. By walking paths that go around and about. At different points of the trail, you have the opportunity to make choices. Depending on the choices you make, you have the ability to reinvent your role, career and your expectation of your future path.
I managed to do this accidentally. Started at Grey in India where I learned holistic integrated marketing with the best creative in South East Asia. When I moved to the US, I did a stint at Wunderman Cato Johnson (direct and promotional marketing) before doing long global brand-driven assignments at JWT and FCB. Started a digital branding practice for FCB, then helped build FCBi (data, direct, digital and strategy) before I left to start my own strategy firm. Folded that into Omnicom and then joined Euro RSCG, where I spent the last six years helping rebuild the Chicago agency, market one of two North America Business Units, creating a retail practice and then creating and building a successful digital, data and analytics company – Euro RSCG Discovery.
It has been a very fun journey. My expectation of there being just one destination to reach has now been replaced with a belief that every intersection point on my journey is like reaching one destination and finding a new one to continue my journey.
I am taking a tremendous joy from this approach. I am learning new skills and meeting and getting to know new people. I look forward to each day and the experiences I will have. And do it at my own pace.
A nice way to grow personally and professionally. And the view is fabulous.