Home

What’s the best career development advice you’ve received?

When I was an IT manager, I met this guy at a CIO conference and told him what I was doing at my organization with VMware and data centers — this was back when VMware ESXi had just come out. We went to lunch the next week and he coached me on how to keep moving up to the next level. He said, "You're doing cool stuff, you should ask to be promoted. Just keep track of everything you're doing for the business to make them more efficient. And then ask for a promotion every six months." And I did. At one company I was at, every six months I asked, "Can I be a senior IT manager?" And they'd say, "Yeah, sure. Of course." Six months after that I’d ask to be associate director. I worked at this particular company for six years and by the time I left, I was a senior director. That’s when another biotech company hired me as a VP. So the lesson is: if you don't ask, you don't get it.

Anonymous Author
When I was an IT manager, I met this guy at a CIO conference and told him what I was doing at my organization with VMware and data centers — this was back when VMware ESXi had just come out. We went to lunch the next week and he coached me on how to keep moving up to the next level. He said, "You're doing cool stuff, you should ask to be promoted. Just keep track of everything you're doing for the business to make them more efficient. And then ask for a promotion every six months." And I did. At one company I was at, every six months I asked, "Can I be a senior IT manager?" And they'd say, "Yeah, sure. Of course." Six months after that I’d ask to be associate director. I worked at this particular company for six years and by the time I left, I was a senior director. That’s when another biotech company hired me as a VP. So the lesson is: if you don't ask, you don't get it.
0 upvotes
Anonymous Author
The biggest lesson I learned in growing my career has to do with brevity. I'll never forget this situation with my boss where he said, "Executive staff would really like to know what's going on IT. Can you please write up a summary and plan to send it out every other week." When I wrote up a summary, he said, "Nobody's going to read this thing." I had put my heart and soul into writing up everything you would need to know about IT. But to give me some advice, he said, "Let me explain my day to you. I'm flying at 50,000 ft and you're asking me to fly at 5,000 ft, which means I have to change context all the way down to that level. I might do that for you, but I probably won't. And nobody else on the executive staff will do it for you either. You have to bring things up to my level because I change context all day and the cost of switching is really high." That was the best advice I'd received in years. I realized that I have to have empathy for these people who are super busy and only have 30 seconds to read my email. It comes down to telling them a lot less in that email but it takes a lot longer to write. If somebody says I have 30 minutes with executive staff next week, I know that's going to require four to six hours of preparation. I have to keep asking myself, “What's going to make sense to them?” Because it all makes sense to me.
0 upvotes
Anonymous Author
One of the best and most important was from my first manager at Microsoft: The most valuable people are those who help others be successful. It is not about only making yourself successful.
0 upvotes