Wednesday, July 3, 2019

My Talk to Emerging Leaders: The concept of life-long careers is long gone

This blog is in continuation to the earlier blog I wrote about my experience in being a mentor to emerging leaders in my organization.

What experiences, roles, and opportunities have led you to the role you are in today at Citrix?

In the last blog, I shared my learning around being authentic. One of the other areas that have helped me in my career is to think of careers not as one long multi-decade journey but more as having multiple mini-careers in a long time-span. The era of life-long careers is long gone.

Here is some reasoning as to why I think so:

1. I always find the discussion between being a specialist and a generalist fascinating. I have spent a
good part of my career being a specialist and then moving into a role of generalist. Specialist is someone who specializes in an area and goes deep into it to be called as an expert. Generalist is someone who knows how to quickly master skills, add tremendous value in a short time and then move onto something new. Since specialists tend to stay with a skill or group of similar skill for a long time, they tend to value predictable career paths more. Generalists tend to find their own career paths without relying too much on what is laid out for them.

I have probably over-simplified the distinction but my experience in being a generalist in the last few years in my career has only helped me reaffirm my belief that careers of future are going to be ones in which one need to adapt at solving variety of problems. Once you show the necessary agility needed to solve myriad of problem, it opens up the unknown career paths. This is something I am experiencing now, to an extent.

2. I made the last point keeping myself as a test case. If I look at my father's career as well, I can safely come to the same conclusion that the concept of life-long careers is long gone. He is still working (despite reaching second half of his 70s), which is inspirational to me. Not only this, during his active working days he has experience in working across industries like steel, yarn, pharma and a few more and played myriad of different roles. I can safely conclude that during his time too careers were beginning to lose the long-term status.

Why I think the realization that we don't have long-term career an important insight that helped shape my career ? I feel that's because this thinking led me to make the choices that mattered for me. It helped me get closer to discovering my near-ideal temperament. It helped me focus on the skills that i need to build. It helped me focus on the core of professional development.

What I mentioned here is a risky proposition in some ways and need a holistic consideration before embracing.

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