Thursday, August 26, 2010

How do I translate what I like to what I want to do


Now that I had spent some time understanding myself, I wanted to open up to my audience about how I think I can take it to the next level. Key Takeaways from this post

My example..
When I think about my transferable skills, the one big aspect was my attention to detail and clarity in thought. I remember a time when I had planned my movement out of a project and into another project in a entirely different technology. This was 5 years into my career and I had the good fortune to be selected for a 20 member evening class to study this new technology in my company. I was later at a cross road at the point of my departure when a senior architect, on the basis of having worked for him while I was in a separate team, requested that I join his team instead of moving into a place in a new project. My boss at the time remarked to the senior architect that he was sure I wouldn't change my mind from trying out the new technology, simply because "she knows what she wants".

My love for software design was cultivated further when I was chosen to design 2 significant chunks in a software platform that was built from scratch. This was within 6 months of joining my new project in this new technology. The interaction with a multitude of people from delivery heads, solution architects, product line members, apart from internal teams of coders and testers brought out my collaboration skills. The learnings from that experience were experiential and exposed me to a wider net of teams. It also earned me a promotion and this was within a year of joining the new project.

My exposure to operations teams, who work the back offices with spreadsheets of failed orders or faults stuck in limbo, during my earlier project helped me too. It set the context of what was going on. Who was I designing for? The users of the system. What if something goes wrong, who would look into it? The operations and support teams. What would they need to help resolve the problem and answer a user's queries? Well presented data on screens, audit trails with relevant messages, milestones achieved with timestamps. Are there any other user groups of the system? Higher management and marketing/business heads who would want to understand the volumes of transactions and understand revenue generated and sources for improvement. So when one designs, they are designing not for one, the natural tendency is to think only for the customer, but several user groups.

What does that mean...
Taking this as an example, progress further to trail through your career. The key facts to notice is your transitions to newer different roles, hopefully they were ones you asked for and not pushed to take. No matter what the reason for the transition, if you stuck with it for a significant time, its most likely you liked something about it.

Just incase you were miserable doing it, even that would speak for what you stand for. If you felt strongly for or against it, qualify why with action verbs and conversely what would you do improve or what did you do to change it.

It is necessary to understand what you have done till now, what you enjoy doing, before you move to understanding how can you take this further.

How to take it further...

  • Finding role models in your company or customers who you have worked with plays a big influence on your future goals. 
  • Sometimes people we meet evoke aspirations too. These days for example, I read the news on government actions and I keep trying to put in the context of a large organisation that is run and really study ministers and secretaries of state as CEOs of business units. Whatever sources of inspirations, to really enjoy your future career, try not to focus on the monetary benefits except as a subsidiary advantage to a pivotal admirable career path.
  • Reading autobiographies about leaders from the industry/sector you aspire for, is great way to understand the  what are the challenges they faced and the steps that took to reach where they did. Do these match up with your qualities in anyway?
  • Reading articles about what people do in their jobs can bring insight. Useful resources are Business week online, Interviews of business leaders, Forte Foundaton articles and Student blogs.
  • Setting up informational interviews through contacts with people already in these positions is a very useful way to know more about what their typical day is like and what qualities are needed most in their kind of jobs.
The above methods will most likely help you understand what you would be passionate about doing post an MBA, if that is a path you ultimately feel backons you.



Takeaways to understanding your future goals

  • What are our transferable skiils ?
  • Dig into the transitions in your career, what had evoked that transition?
  • Analyse your career positions and keep searching for action verbs that come up describing what you liked
  • Connect the dots.

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