What does it take to be successful in the corporate world? This question often comes up in your mind whether you are a student or working in a corporation. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are witnessing a change in our real and virtual world. This question is being asked more than ever.
Humans by nature hate uncertainty as it brings in fear. This question is coming from fear buried deep down in your mind. Based on my 15 years of experience in the corporate world and experiences shared by various mentors, these five factors will give you a direction to answer the question.
The fundamental question to ask before entering a professional field: Is this something I want to do for the next 30 to 40 years? During our work-life, we spend most of our waking time with people at work.
It is important that you choose the field in line with your inner nature — not because your best friend is pursuing it, or your family recommends it. Sometimes you also choose a field because it’s trendy.
While growing up in India, it was almost expected by society to pursue medicine or engineering if you were a science student. This is a myopic vision that does not hold up once you visualize a career of decades in front of you. The perspective of a long-term career in the corporate world is necessary to consider.
As a starting point, use resources around you, such as college upperclassmen/seniors. If you are already in touch with them, ask that question. If not, reach out to them via LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Also, reading/watching interviews of successful corporate leaders paint a picture of what it is like to be in an office 9-10 hours. This research helps you go beyond the realm of the job description and the interview process to understand the essence of the work you are going to do in the long run.
Communication is essential
Communication, written, verbal, or nonverbal is the key to success in life, let alone the workplace. There is a lack of training that focuses on improving communication in schools and universities. These days, we discuss a lot about the skills we need in future. Hardly anyone talks about communication.
If you do not have the technique to express your thoughts and ideas as well understand what others are telling you, it would be difficult to survive. With poor communication, you can’t learn and relearn new tools and skills. Throughout your career you must keep working on your communication. Whichever job you do, there will be an element of communication to determine your success, as you need to always work with people.
I recommend joining a Toastmasters International club to improve your communication. It’s a 100-year-old nonprofit global organization provides a friendly and safe environment
to flourish for communication, public speaking and leadership. In the words of Toastmasters founder Ralph Smedley, “Ours is the only organization I know dedicated to the individual, we work together to bring out the best in each of us and then we apply these skills to help others.”
Do you have a right attitude?
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”– Zig Ziglar
Cultivating a positive and realistic attitude towards everything would aid you in navigating difficult situations. Imagine going from one role to another within the company or from one organization to another organization. There will be nervousness and a fear of the unknown. How do you manage that?
Tell yourself, “I’m excited to learn new things”. “It’s a great opportunity to know new people and learn from them”. Nurturing this attitude will help you survive through ups and downs in your journey.
There will be situations where decisions will not go in your favor, e.g., your ideas will not be considered; you have a conflict with a colleague; you are not getting a promotion. It’s prudent not to overthink and overanalyze the situations, as you can’t control what others think.
You approach these situations as learning experiences and do things in a different and better manner. Blaming others will not help but will only agitate you. You can only give your best, which is in your control, and let the work do the talking.
Go beyond your selfish goals
One of the frequently asked questions is where you see yourself in five years. The common answers are:
- “I want to be a CEO in 10 years.”
- “I want to manage people.”
- “I want to work in the machine learning field.”
None of these answers involves thinking beyond your personal goals. In the long run, you will be as successful as the company or the field you work for. Slowly shifting focus from your individual goal to attain the goals of your company will not only make you unselfish but will also allow your career to prosper as you become more productive. You will be noticed by the management in your company.
“Here is someone who keeps the goal of the organization before his personal ambition,” they will say. This attitude also makes you a better team player as you cooperate with your colleagues to achieve their goals. Your work becomes an initiative, meaning you get encouragement from within. Your dependency on salary and bonuses to perform your job diminishes. Work itself gives you happiness. You will look forward to Monday morning. TGIF would become TGIM.
In a corporate job, especially if you are in operations, you will be asked to come up with ideas to improve the process. How can you do that? You need to ask a series of “Why”, “What” and “How” questions. Intellect is the faculty in you that promotes questioning, judging, and reasoning. It is the base of original thinking. It’s the intellect which innovators use to change the way we live.
Think about outstanding contributors in different areas of our society. Perhaps they had hundreds of classmates with the same educational backgrounds. What differentiates those outstanding people is the application of the intellect. The more you develop intellect the more you develop original thinking by questioning the status quo which is the foundation of any innovation.
Developing intellect also makes you objective. If emotions run out of control, they will destroy not only you but the people around you. Many years ago, an employee lost his temper with his influential boss and he was unemployed for four years. Intellect also reduces your stress level, so you become peaceful as you’re more productive. To know how to develop it, study A. Parthasarathy’s book “The Fall of the Human Intellect”.
These five factors will give you a general understanding of what it takes to have a fulfilling career in the corporate world. This article will be successful if it makes you ask more questions about your career. The more questions you ask, more answers will come to you which will get you a better outcome.
Have a purpose in your work and success will automatically come to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
He is the Vice President – Global Credit Risk Middle Office at JPMorgan Chase. He has vast experience in developing and uplifting heterogeneous teams towards goal alignment and is also a subject matter expert in design thinking, global risk strategy, risk analysis, and data governance.
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