Sunday, November 30, 2008

Career: What I'm Looking For

My career adviser at Deere asked me to come up with some things that I wanted out of my next position. Here's what I sent her.

Lead-in to an MBA program. I intend to pursue an MBA from a Top-5 MBA program within the next five years; my next position must be directly relevant to this goal. I applied to several programs last year, but found that it was extremely difficult to get into the programs that I want to attend without having business-, finance- or management-related experience. When I apply again, I will be competing against consultants that have experience at big-4 consulting firms, people who have experience in investment banking, people with family connections to elite universities and 3.9 students from Harvard-class universities. I intend to compete aggressively and do not want my work experience to be my application's weak-point.

Travel. I love traveling and get away whenever I can. An international assignment would not be out of the question, but I would certainly like to be on the road at least 75% of the time. By far, the most enjoyable weeks at John Deere have been when I've been on the road. Whether it's recruiting in Moline, or going to a conference in California, I find being in a place where I am constantly discovering something new extremely stimulating. To give you an idea of how much I enjoy travel: currently I have firm plans to visit Minneapolis, Seattle, Japan, Germany and Hong Kong in the next six months.

Varied experience. In my current position, I have spent the last two years working on the same project. I find working on the same project for so long very stifling. My "Predictive Index" states that I am "unable to do routine work". I need variety in my work, or else I get bored. I would much rather focus on developing a wide range of competencies, rather than becoming an expert in one area. What has made my job in engineering tolerable is that I have taken the initiative to work on projects involving customer support, desktop software engineering, training, program management and process improvements.

Exposure and an opportunities to build relationships. I would like a position where I can get wide exposure within the enterprise. By exposure, I mean at all levels, from executives to individual contributors. Whenever possible, within the confines of my current position, I try to develop relationships with colleagues. When our German colleagues come over, I always try to be in the group taking them out to dinner; for several Indian colleagues, I've been the one to pick them up from the airport. Building relationships takes time and commitment, but I see the value in this.

Flexible work environments. I have found that, often, I am able to do my best work outside of "normal business hours". Some times, I am ready to get going at 5:30 am on Monday, some times, I work best at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night (though probably not both in the same week). I don't feel that I am as productive as I could be when I am forced to work a standard work-day. I would greatly prefer the consulting lifestyle; new hires at Deloitte Consulting, for example, end up working 10-12 hour days frequently, but start with 24 days of vacation and can take Fridays off in the summers. An arrangement like this works nicely with my desire to travel. Also, I would prefer a job where I can do work on a laptop at Starbucks (maybe a Starbucks in Kiev, Berlin or Sydney). Best Buy allows flexible work arrangements (yes, even allowing employees to work with a laptop from wherever they want) for all of its corporate employees and they've found that it increases productivity.

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