Discover more from OnGrowth&
🚀34: How to Build a Strong Foundation for Career Growth
Four tips that have helped me thrive and remain relevant through 5 career transitions
Welcome to OnGrowth&, an exciting pivot of my Notes to Self newsletter, dedicated to nurturing your growth both professionally and personally. 🌱🚀
One of my direct reports recently asked me, “How do you manage to make meaningful contributions in meetings across such a wide range of topics?”
My answer: I had a really solid foundation when I started my career a decade ago. At the time, it didn’t seem like it. A lot of concepts were thrown at me that didn’t make sense to me all at once, but I was surrounded by the most amazing peers, seniors and managers; who handheld me to become better.
10 years later and I’m still applying these tips.
When it comes to your career, the best way to thrive is to make sure your foundation is solid.
So how do you build a solid career foundation?
Learn the Basics
You’ll agree that learning doesn’t stop at school and there are new things to learn everyday.
When I took my second job to explore a career in the Big 4, I was overwhelmed. Several concepts I had never heard before were thrown at me daily, and yet I had to show up at client sites and do good work.
Everyday after work, I dedicated time to research, delved into foundational concepts in finance, revenue assurance, internal audit, consulting, data analytics, excel, and more. I familiarised myself with the basics of my clients' industries and embraced asking questions fearlessly.
It was only recently that I came to realize how that foundation set me up for success. I’m able to learn fast, can contribute across a wide range of topics, and I have engrained in me a culture of lifelong learning. This has not only propelled my career forward but has also kept me relevant even a decade later.
Put in the time and effort required to learn concepts, technicalities, and the nuances of your chosen career. Diversify your learning resources - books, blogs, courses, tutorials, webinars, podcasts, etc. Your career will thank you.
Learn before the job, learn on the job, learn after the job.
Keep learning but don’t get stuck in a never-ending learning loop/tutorial hell. The best way to apply what you’ve learned is to experiment and practice.
“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” ~ Max DePree
Surround yourself with smart people
There’s something about being around smart people, it rubs off on you (like oil), you absorb brilliance as well as amplify it, and slowly become like this. The key thing about being around smart people is to make sure you’re in an enabling environment. Choose your professional home carefully. Find an employer that is invested in growth and one that values training and support. Seek a place where collaboration thrives.
If you’re in a career where you do not feel like you’re exposed to smart minds, or you seem to be the smartest in the room, do not feel challenged or find your work boring, then it’s time to seek out a new team/company where you can stretch and evolve.
“Some workplaces are definitely broken, but the entire workforce isn’t.” ~ Simon Sinek
Network for Learning
Attending industry events and connecting with people exposes you to diverse perspectives, inspiration, fresh ideas and new experiences to draw from. From conferences, to workshops, to webinars, to Twitter, to Instagram and so much more; there are so many avenues to learn and network.
You can choose the frequency that works for you – monthly, quarterly, or bi-yearly. The key is to avoid sitting in your own bubble, isolating yourself and to remain open-minded.
Build relationships long before you need them.
Over the course of my career, I have met some incredible people and built some amazing relationships.
I got my last 3 roles through networking — one was through a valuable connection I made at an event in Athens, Greece during my MBA; another was an internal opportunity created specifically for me due to the exceptional work I had contributed.
My current role came by talking to a friend. It was a very basic chat and I casually mentioned my job search for a specific role, and the rest is history.
"Networking is an enrichment program, not an entitlement program." ~Susan RoAne
I read somewhere that the consistency of your endeavours is more important than the quantity. Nothing beats small things done every day, which is way more important than what you do occasionally.
I’ve been an excellent worker my entire career, and this reputation precedes me. But there was a time I could not wait to work in certain industries.
It’s absolutely okay to aspire for more in your career, but don’t be in a hurry to “arrive”. If you invest time into solving for what leads to success continuously, you will reap those benefits for years to come.
“If you cannot do great things, do small things a great number of times.” ~Steph Smith
Thank you for reading! Was this sent to you? Don't miss the next one – subscribe here!