Career, MBA

Career Growth Strategies

Originally gave this as a speech in Toastmasters.

I started my part-time MBA this January at Boston University. A few week’s ago, I took a course where we went over career growth strategies. I want to share the strategies with you today.

Before we get into them, let’s take a look at Tom Brady’s career. He is a very recent and relevant example.

He was drafted in the 6th round in 2000 (out of 7 rounds). He was 199th pick overall, so he was passed up 198 times. Of the 198 picks before him, 6 of them were quarterbacks.

Where he was picked in the draft, foreshadowed his position on the Patriots when he first got there. He was the fifth string QB for the 2000 season. However, he started his second season as the back up QB to Drew Bledsoe. He became the starting QB during his second season after Bledsoe was hurt.

Career Growth Strategies

Now – let’s put Tom on hold for a second and talk about career growth strategies.

  • Move-Up: An example is you are an individual contributor and want to become a manager.
  • Move Down: You may be looking to switch industries and you need to move down the latter in the process.
  • Grow in Place: Stay where you are and grow.
  • Lateral: I am a marketer and within marketing I have focused on SEO. There are many ways to market a product or service. If I went to a different channel that would be lateral move.
  • Exploratory: Long term I might want to become a professor, so I am starting to explore what it might be like to help determine if I really want to. I plan to interview professors I have about teaching careers.
Given what what we know about career growth strategies, where does Tom Brady fit into this?
  • In 2000 he was the fifth string QB. After his first year he moved up to 2nd string.
  • In his second season, he moved up again from 2nd string to first string.
  • Since 2001, he has been growing in place. Re-fining his craft in the same role for 16 years.

Everything Brady did in Super Bowl 51 is a collection of growing in the same role for 16 years.

Pretty fascinating when you compare it to our business careers and how we are prone to move around more often. I am not necessarily saying we should stay in the same role for 16 years, but perhaps we should be sure to master what we are doing (assuming you can get excited about that) before making a move.

Imagine if you could accomplish the equivalent in your job to coming back from 28 points in the Super Bowl? I feel like it would feel pretty rewarding.

Personally, I am growing in place like Tom Brady right now. I am doing this because I have identified a few weaknesses I want to work on. I am excited about working on these weaknesses in my current environment; some of us may be more excited about working on weaknesses while making a lateral move or a move up. It depends on what excites you. I will leave you with a question: what is your career growth strategy today?